Man returns $26,000 found while out walking
William Rodriguez's ``bad streak'' of luck ended Thursday.
In the past two weeks, both his and his wife's cars were banged up in separate hit-and-run incidents. On Wednesday morning, the boiler in his Jencks Road home began leaking.
But when a bank envelope filled with $26,000 cash flew off his car roof and was later returned to him, Rodriguez said his ``faith was restored.''
``Somebody like that deserves all the credit in the world,'' Rodriguez said, praising Department of Correction employee Samuel Lu, who recovered the money Rodriguez lost driving from his home.
Lu, a Westborough resident, left his Maple Street office around noon Wednesday to take his daily walk. As he approached the intersection of Beaver Street and Mason Drive, Lu said he noticed a dark blue pouch on the left side of the road.
``I've never seen that much cash in my life,'' said Lu, recalling the moment he slightly unzipped the case. His first thought: Was this money from a drug deal or a bank robbery?
Lu looked up and down Beaver Street, curious if someone passing by had dropped the bulging bag.
Inside the Commerce Bank pouch, Lu saw a deposit slip for $26,000 with the name Bela Brazil Corp., 260 Main St.
``I just wanted to get it back to whoever dropped it there,'' he said. ``It's too much money.''
Lu set out to return the money to Bela Brazil, only to find the store closed.
Meanwhile, as Rodriguez realized he had put the money pouch on his car roof, he said to himself, ``Oh no, I couldn't have done that.''
Rodriguez and his wife, Renata, then locked up their Western Union banking site and clothing store to search for the missing money.
Rodriguez hadn't realized it was missing until he arrived at Commerce Bank on Main Street.
The large sum of cash was deposited by Western Union customers at the store the previous day.
``That money belonged to Western Union, not me. It's a big responsibility,'' Rodriguez said.
In a panic, the Rodriguezes starting thinking how they'd replace the missing funds.
``I thought I'd have to take a second mortgage on my home, or sell the store,'' William said.
Around 1:30 p.m., they called police to report the loss.
``They were both very distraught,'' said Officer Paul Moffi, who assisted the couple at their Main Street business.
By 4 p.m., Lu got in touch with the Rodriguezes by phone.
``Are you missing something?'' Lu asked.
``Yes - I'm missing a lot,'' Rodriguez replied.
When the two made the connection, Rodriguez was overwhelmed.
``I was so happy. I couldn't thank him enough,'' he said, sitting in his store yesterday morning. ``I almost broke down and cried.''
His wife, Renata, did just that. ``Thank God,'' she said.
Rodriguez couldn't leave his store to pick up the pouch, but Lu assured him the money would be safe in the Department of Correction's locked deposit box.
``He was so relieved,'' Lu said. ``I told him to go to bed, don't worry - your money is safe here.''
Thursday morning, Moffi escorted Rodriguez to the Department of Correction office to retrieve the money.
``All the money was there, to the dollar,'' Moffi said.
Rodriguez said the incident ``restored his faith in not only the people of Milford, but God as well.''
``A lot of people would be tempted to keep the money,'' Rodriguez said. ``Thank God an honest person found it.''
Lu was just as happy to return the money.
``I'm so glad,'' Lu said. ``I wanted to get it back him as soon as possible. I know if I was in his shoes, I'd be devastated.''
Michelle Laczkoski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-634-7556.