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Man Finds $18K Worth of Gems, $5K in Cash…and Returns it All

November 6, 2010

A New Jersey man made the find of a lifetime while driving around New Jersey’s Ramapo State Forest parking lot. He then made the decision of a lifetime.

Joseph Monto, 33, said he discovered a backpack filled with gems and $5,000 in cash while with his wife and 15-month-old son. Although initially shocked, he knew what he had to do: return them. He did.

The New York Post reports:

“I thought maybe someone left their wallet, and I could do them a favor and call,” said Monto, who was shocked when he found a case inside the backpack “stuffed with money and jewelry.”

“I said, ‘Oh, my God!’ ” I thought it might be a burglary,” said Monto, who took the backpack home for a closer look. He saw notebooks and papers with GPS coordinates and what looked like codes.

“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, hopefully it doesn’t have to do with terrorists,’ ” he said.

Monto soon turned up contact information that led to the woman’s brother — and then to a grateful Rebecca Knox.

“She was like, ‘Thank goodness you found it! You restore my faith in humanity. There still are good people out there,’ ” Monto said.

The Maine woman was in New Jersey to help her parents move into a retirement community, and the $5,000 was a down payment for their new home, according to The Record newspaper .

The Record said she takes the jewelry pouch — which held a platinum watch, a pearl necklace and gifts from her husband — when she travels.

The GPS coordinates and “codes” are part of a treasure-hunt game called “geocaching” that uses the coordinates to look for hidden “treasures.”

The woman said she spent part of the day in the park and must have lost the goodies when she went to pull out her cell phone.

While Monto may not have been expecting anything in return, he was rewarded.

“She later sent him a thank-you note and a check for $1,000 that Monto says he‘ll use to finish a bedroom for the couple’s second child, due in early March,” the Post reports.

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