Police say Japanese have returned $78 million in missing cash after quake

In the five months since a devastating earthquake struck, Japanese police say they've received $78 million in missing cash and valuables that citizens have found in the rubble and promptly turned in.

Thousands of missing wallets contained $48 million in cash, and nearly 6,000 more safes turned in by volunteers contained an extra $30 million, the Japanese Police Agency told ABC News' Akiko Fujita. Most of the found money has been returned to its owners, after police used identifying documents in the safes to track them down.

"The fact that these safes were washed away meant the homes were washed away too," Koetsu Saiki of the Miyagi Prefectural police force told ABC News. "We had to first determine if the owners were alive, then find where they had evacuated to."

Some wallets and safes were most likely pocketed, but the scale of honesty in the wake of disaster is still striking.

"The fact that a hefty 2.3 billion yen in cash has been returned to its owners shows the high level of ethical awareness in the Japanese people," Ryuji Ito, professor emeritus at Yokohama City University, told The Daily Mail.