Janesville63.1°

Tin of coins returned to rightful owner

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Darryl Enriquez
December 1, 2010
— An Elkhorn police detective used a bit of unpacking to solve the case of the donated coins.

"It's one of those feel good stories where everything worked out, and the lady got her coins back," Elkhorn Police Lt. John Anzalone said.


The tale of intrigue began a few weeks ago when a brown, tattered suitcase was left on the backdoor stoop of Circle of Friends resale shop in downtown Elkhorn.


The suitcase along with other items was in the alley for nearly three days before staff brought the things inside.


During an inventory, the suitcase was opened and a tin box full of old coins was found inside.


Florence M. Schacht, operator of Circle of Friends, worried that the coins were unwittingly left in the suitcase. Schacht also was suspicious that the coins might have been stolen loot.


She contacted police.


Detective Matt Termaat was assigned to find the coins' owner.


Termaat scoured the suitcase for clues. He tore at the fabric inside, and there it was—a small tag with a name. Not much to go on, but it offered a flicker of hope, Anzolone said.


"He took a shot that it may be the owner," Anzolone said. "He did a good job of digging through the fabric."


Termaat linked a telephone number and address to the name.


From there, Termaat tracked down the woman who gave the suitcase to Circle of Friends. The woman told police she was unaware the tin box of coins was inside the suitcase.


The woman, who asked not to be identified, recognized the coins as the currency her father had collected. The suitcase had belonged to her father. The value of the coins was undetermined, Anzolone said.


"She had been cleaning stuff out of her house and often drops things off to resale shops," Anzolone said.


Circle of Friends is a non-profit resale shop that donates its earnings to charitable causes.


Termaat praised Schacht for her honesty and for turning the coins over to police.



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