KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Linda McDonald and her partner were walking along Ocean Avenue, enjoying a pleasant afternoon, when she spotted something out of place on top of a post.
It was some kind of vinyl-looking bag, complete with a zipper and a brand-name tag attached to it. It was that tag that first caught McDonald’s attention. That, and the fact the bag was dry – something worth noting, given the recent weather.
“It had rained the night before, so it could not have been there long,” McDonald said during a recent interview. “It looked like someone put it down and forgot about it. It seemed like an odd place for it to be.”
Indeed, someone had forgotten about the bag. And when McDonald opened it and looked inside, she knew right away it needed to be returned to its owner. There was personal property inside – of what nature, McDonald would not say – and there also was a wallet with “thousands of dollars” inside of it.
“We saw the money in the bag and just zipped it back up and called the police department,” said McDonald, who lives in Lyman.
A police officer met McDonald and her partner on site and listened to their story. The police told McDonald they would let her know once the owner of the bag had been located and the property had been returned.
A day or two later, that’s just what the police did.
“She was very upset,” McDonald said of how the owner of the property reportedly felt about having lost her money and personal property. “It was something she needed.”
A special surprise
A few weeks later – on Wednesday, May 10, to be exact – the police called McDonald and asked her to go to the station once more.
When she arrived, Police Chief Craig Sanford presented her with a certificate of recognition, applauding her and expressing gratitude to her for helping to return the money and personal items to their rightful owner.
“I certainly didn’t expect it, but it was very nice,” McDonald said.
McDonald once was a police officer herself, in a few small towns, Deerfield, New Hampshire, among them. She figured there were a couple of times during her law enforcement career when someone brought found money and other items to the departments at which she worked. In a small town, that can be expected, McDonald suggested.
“People know each other a little bit more,” she said.
Even so, McDonald’s actions can be all too rare in society, according to Sanford.
“Having worked in law enforcement for 35-plus years, I can tell you it is rare for large sums of found money to be turned in for return to the owner,” Sanford said. “The owner of the property was in a personal crisis at the time, and the return of the money and other individual property was important to their well-being.”
In addition to the certificate, Sanford also presented McDonald with a Kennebunk Police Department challenge coin and a police patch.
“It was an honor to recognize Linda for her honor and integrity, but after getting to know Linda it is not surprising,” Sanford said.
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McDonald said she was happy the police were able to return the money and the personal property to the woman who had lost them. She said she was honored that the Kennebunkport Police Department recognized her good deed.
McDonald said her motivation to turn the small fortune and personal items into the police was a simple one.
“I just did what was right,” she said. "I saw the money and knew it wasn't mine."
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Kennebunkport ME: Woman finds thousands of dollars, returns it