Local acts of kindness preserve our faith in humanity

Back on March 1 a man reported the theft of $40 after he had paid a visit to an ATM and bought a few things at Wal-Mart.

The man, 67, believed the money had fallen out of his pocket in the checkout line at the Elk River big box store, and video footage showing someone picking it up and taking the cash confirmed it.

The Star News reported the incident online less than two days later and again in the March 7 edition of the Star News. It was one of those “crimes” that screamed solvable. That it was a 67-year-old man, you found yourself rooting for him – at least, I did.

Well, the ending of this story is even better than imagined. It’s one of the those restore-your-faith-in-humanity yarns we love to publish in community newspapers.

On March 17 a woman from Elk River came to the police station and asked to speak with the person handling the case. The woman explained to Detective Kim Peterson that she and her husband had been on vacation and recently returned home. They were reading the Star News to catch up on local news when they noticed the story about the $40. She and her husband realized they must have picked up the money.

Here’s what she says happened. They had been in Wal-Mart that day, and her husband had just gotten cash out of an ATM. While in line behind the man who reported the cash stolen, a nearby customer told them they must have dropped some cash and pointed it out to them. The woman said her husband assumed he had dropped it, so they picked it up and kept it.

On her visit to the police station, the woman gave Detective Peterson $40 with instructions to return the money to the man, which has since been done. She also apologized and asked the police to pass along her sentiments.

Capt. Bob Kluntz emailed us at the Star News to let us know of the outcome. He thought it would make a good follow-up.

“Everyone involved was innocent,” Kluntz said. “It was just an honest mistake.”

We all make honest mistakes, but do we step up say we did? That’s what is neat about this little tale. The Elk River woman who came forward could have easily kept quiet.

I remember reporting on a student from Ivan Sand Community High School, Elk River’s alternative high school for kids who have not been dealt the best lot in life. But they often rise above their circumstances and do great things with themselves and their lives.

If I remember right, this was a case of someone who lost a bank bag of money totaling nearly $500. She found it.

She could have kept it, but she didn’t. She returned it, and it made it back into the hands of the rightful owner.

I asked the teenager what went through her mind, and she said something along the lines of that was a lot of money and if she lost money like that, she would want someone to return it.

The $40 that was returned to the 67-year-old man may have been pennies compared to his bank account or net worth. It may have been the last $40 in his wallet, or he may have just emptied his bank account.

Regardless, his faith in humanity has to be a bit stronger today as we close out the month of March than it was the first half of the month. — Jim Boyle, editor