BRUNSWICK, Maine — Three best friends were shopping at a Maine Street consignment shop a little more than a year ago when, right on the sidewalk in front of them, they found $800 in cash.
“We were shopping at Estilo in Brunswick,” said Rose Edwards, 17, of Brunswick, “and we had just left the shop, and I think we were thinking …”
“About getting ice cream,” said friend Sophie Smith, 18, of Freeport.
“And we were like, ‘Too bad we don’t have any money for ice cream,’ and then I spot some money on the ground. And I think it’s a $10 or a $20, and I pick it up and realize that it’s … a lot.”
There was a $10 or $20 bill in front. As they began flipping through the bills in the envelope, they found several $100 bills, for a total of $800.
Edwards said her eyes widened.
“And we all go, ‘Whoa!’ And we come to the conclusion that we should bring it to the police station in hopes of returning it to its rightful owner.”
Edwards, Smith and Julianna Nelson, 17, of Brunswick, couldn’t be sure where the money came from.
“So we decided to let the police handle that,” Edwards said.
The police did handle it — and told them they could claim the money if not claimed by someone in the next year.
It was June 18, 2012.
“At the time, we didn’t even know there was a chance of us getting that money,” Edwards said.
Earlier this week, on Monday, the three teens visited the Brunswick police station, where they were recognized for their good deed and then handed the small pile of cash.
It was the first time in about six months all three friends were together at the same time. Smith said the girls were talking about memories, “and all of a sudden that one popped into our head,” and they wondered whatever happened to the money.
Smith called police 13 months after they had turned in the money, and no one had claimed it.
Two hours later, they were in the police station being presented with the money and several Brunswick Police Department coins given to good citizens.
Brunswick police Lt. Michael Moody, who presented them the money, said it’s not often kids their age find that much cash and don’t spend it.
He noted, too, that it is amazing how often police have items turned in that are never claimed because people assume they are lost.
After finding the cash, “I think my first thought was, ‘What do you do when this happens?’” Edwards said.
“We did talk about spending it, but only jokingly,” Smith said. “There was never a point at which we were like, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t give it to the police.’ We were just kind of like, ‘$800! Wow!’ But it never crossed our minds to actually spend the money.”
Until this week.
But even now, the girls are displaying a certain wisdom uncommon to many teens.
The girls split the money up evenly. Edwards said she thinks she’ll save hers for a scuba trip. Smith drove her cash straight to the bank to save for college.
Because it didn’t split evenly three ways, the three took out $20 to spend at Estilo.
Smith said friends she has told the story to didn’t believe she found $800 on the street.
One couple said, “And you gave it up?!”
Smith said she was glad police were able to go business to business in an effort to find the owner of the cash, “because if I had lost that much money, I would have really wanted it back. I think we would have been happy if the owner had gotten it, too.”
“I think it’s one of those moments in life when you come to a crossroad. Do you keep the money or do you give it up?” Smith said. “We chose to give it up. But we ended up keeping it.”
Edwards said, “I think doing the right thing is just always best.”
“We woke up poor and went to bed rich,” Smith said.