10/15/08 — Man finds, returns lost $1,000 in cash

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Man finds, returns lost $1,000 in cash

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 15, 2008 1:46 PM


Gene Reich of Goldsboro recently found $1,000 in $20 bills held together by a paper clip lying on the ground at Sam’s Club.

Several people had walked past the small stack of paper as they strolled through the parking lot at Sam's Club during the early afternoon of Sept. 28. Gene Reich of Goldsboro could have been one of them.

But curiosity got the better of Reich. He stopped, stooped over for a better look and saw something that sent his heart racing.

There, held together with a paper clip, was a stack of $20 bills -- $1,000 worth of them.

For Reich, 51, an employee at the Family Shoe Store, there was never any question about what to do -- find the owner and return the money.

"I have found $1 or $5 and I think everybody has found pennies, nickels and dimes and put them in their pocket, but something like that there was no way I could put it in my pocket," he said.

"I was down close to the gas pumps at Sam's when I saw something on the ground and realized it was money," he said. "To be honest, my heart started pounding. I walked around to see if I could find anyone walking around looking for something."

"I had no idea how much it was. I went to my car and counted it and it was $1,000. It was laying flat down held together by a paper clip," said Reich, a familiar face to the people who shopped at the Record Rack in downtown Goldsboro where he worked for more than 20 years before it closed.

"I was going to the Police Department to turn it in, but I talked to a couple of friends who said it would be better to call (Sam's) and I said, 'No, I will go out there and talk to the manager.'"

Reich asked the manager if anyone had reported anything missing.

When she responded "yes" he asked her to describe it.

"She said a large sum of money has been lost, and when I asked her how much, she said '$1,000,'" Reich said.

Reich asked the manager to sign a paper saying he had received the money and promise to give it to the rightful owner. But it wasn't necessary. The man who lost the money happened to show up just then.

"Luckily, as we walked through the store this older man and his son, and I think his granddaughter, came through and I handed it to him there," Reich said. "I said 'this is your money, my conscience wouldn't let me keep it.' If it isn't my mine, I don't want it.

"They were very relieved. I know I would be if I lost $1,000.

"They tried to give me some money, but I told him I didn't want to take it, that it was his money. His last words were 'at least there is an honest person left.'"

Reich said the man, whose name he didn't learn, told him he lost the money while getting out of his vehicle.

Reich said he felt "relieved" when he gave the money back.

"I'd never had that kind of money in my hand. I kept saying it wasn't my money and feeling guilty about having it in my possession. I was raised to do the right thing."

Reich said that if he had not found someone at the store he would have left the money at the police station.

Reich said he has since been teased about returning the money.

"But in the end they (friends) told me they would have done the same thing," he said. "All my friends were very supportive telling me I did the right thing and I know I did the right thing.

"You get rewarded in the long run doing good."