Society

Retired Vet Has Stolen Wallet Returned To Him, $700 Cash Still Inside (Video)

| by Karin Sun
Jim Lear and Rick Ochoa, Inset: surveillance footage of man who stole Lear's walletJim Lear and Rick Ochoa, Inset: surveillance footage of man who stole Lear's wallet

A Florida man did something amazing for a U.S. veteran whose wallet was stolen while he was shopping at a Publix grocery store.

Retired veteran Jim Lear, 76, was shopping in the aisles of a Publix store in Winter Haven, Florida, around 11:40 a.m. on Dec. 26 when he unknowingly dropped his wallet on the floor, Fox 5 Atlanta notes. He was reportedly riding a motorized cart while doing his shopping.

Seconds after Lear dropped the wallet, a man walked by, picked it up, and kept walking, according to the store's surveillance footage.

About eight minutes later, charges began to appear on Lear's accounts. The thief withdrew $300 from his debit card and also rang up charges on his credit cards, Fox 13 reports.

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The stolen wallet also reportedly contained $700 in cash.

Two days later on Dec. 28, a local man named Rick Ochoa was checking trash cans in the neighborhood for recyclable items when he discovered Lear's wallet in a garbage can about one-tenth of a mile away from the Publix store where it had been stolen.

The $700 was still inside.

"I thought, 'wait a minute, all I see are $100 bills in there,'" Ochoa told Fox 13. "And, I said, 'Lord, give me strength like anyone else would ask you right now.' So, I just put it in a safe place in my cart as I continued my walk."

Instead of pocketing the money, Ochoa called police. The wallet was returned to Lear the next day.

When Lear came to reclaim his wallet at the Winter Haven Police Department, Ochoa was there and the two men hugged. Lear also gave Ochoa $100 as a token of thanks, which Ochoa said he will donate to a charity for homeless veterans.

"I told him I love him," Lear said. "I said I was going to kiss him, but haha, I don't think."

"A big old hug is good," Ochoa added.

Lear, a former city commissioner, said he had originally stopped by the Publix to buy lottery tickets but decided to get some additional items while he was there. He told police he did not realize his wallet was missing until he went to the cash register to pay.

Lear's bank has refunded the $300 stolen from his debit card.

Police are still looking for the man who took Lear's wallet. The suspect has been described from security camera footage as a dark-skinned black male between 30 and 45 years old and about 6 feet tall, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

He was reportedly wearing a white T-shirt, white baseball cap, light blue pants, and what appeared to be reading glasses hanging from the front of his shirt.

Sources: Fox 13 News, Fox 5 Atlanta / Photo Credit: Fox 13 News