A Boston cabbie is praised after returning $187,000 left by a fare

Raymond 'Buzzy' MacCausland found a backpack stuffed with bills in the backseat of his cab. He drove straight to the police.  

Boston Police Department/AP
Stacks of money totaling about $187,000 that were left in a taxi are displayed in Boston. Boston police said cab driver Raymond 'Buzzy' MacCausland picked up a rider in Boston on Saturday who left a backpack containing the money in the taxi.

A Boston cab driver who returned a backpack containing nearly $200,000 that had been left by a passenger received kudos from the city police department on Tuesday for his integrity.

In a statement, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said the driver “exhibited exemplary behavior and his honest deed should be recognized.”

“His actions represent the high standards that our department has for our drivers."

After finding that a homeless passenger had left his backpack in the back seat of the cab, 72-year-old Raymond “Buzzy” MacCausland opened it and found it stuffed with bills. Red flags went up.

“I said, ‘Is it drug money? Is it stolen money? Is it Whitey Bulger money?’ ” Mr. MacCausland told The Boston Globe. “I made a U-turn and went right to the police station.”

Officers did an inventory of the bag and found the owner at the hotel where he was staying. A 47-year-old homeless man, who declined to give his name to reporters out of embarrassment over the episode, supplied the officers with documentation proving that the money was legitimate. The man’s recently deceased parents, it turned out, had unexpectedly willed him hundreds of thousands of dollars, which he liquidated at a check-cashing store.

The owner gave MacCausland a $100 reward. 

Such scrupulousness is not all that uncommon – or at least, news of such incidents isn’t. In 2013, The Christian Science Monitor reported on a homeless man who alerted officers after discovering $2,400 in cash and nearly $40,000 in traveler’s checks in a lost backpack. The following year, three young roommates who had just brought home a couch from The Salvation Army found strange lumps that ended up being packages amounting to over $40,000; they tracked down the elderly women to whom it belonged and returned it to her. And this past December in Fresno, Calif., a waiter at an Applebee’s restaurant reported a lost bag containing $32,000 in cash to police after a family left it behind.

In most of the United States, laws compel people who find sums or objects of significant value to report it, wrote the Monitor in September:

Every state has laws requiring the return of money or property if it’s possible to identify the owner, like if someone finds a wallet full of cash and an ID. If the owner is not easily identified, however, things get much more legally complicated.”

'In most states, the finder is required to contact local law enforcement and give them the money or property for a period of time, allowing the owner the opportunity to claim it. If the rightful owner does not come forward, the money goes to the finder.'

If you lose your wallet, whether or not you’ll get it returned to you may depend on where you are. A 2013 Reader’s Digest experiment found that in 16 cities worldwide, reporters who purposely lost their wallets, almost half got them back. 

The experiment yielded some surprising results: of the 12 wallets dropped in New York City, for instance, eight of them found their way back to the owner.

"The most surprising discovery for the team at Reader's Digest is that honesty is not a relative," said Raimo Moysa, editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest International Magazines, CNN reported. "For all the people who returned wallets, it was the only way to act in such a situation."

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.