LONDON – For nearly six years, money seemed to be falling from the sky onto the streets of a village in northeastern England.
Residents of Blackhall Colliery regularly found neat bundles of 20-pound notes, then promptly handed the money to police. The bundles often amounted to 2,000 pounds, or about $2,600.
But the question of where the cash had come from has baffled authorities. The police revealed this week that two people who wished to be known only as good Samaritans had been dotting the money around town in an effort to "give something back" to the community. At least 26,000 pounds had been found since 2014 near the main street of the former mining village of less than 5,000 residents.
The Durham Constabulary went public with the mystery in November in a last-ditch effort to find the source of the money. Inquiries had yielded nothing, nor had tests for fingerprints.
The news spread quickly, drawing international attention. The residents were also praised for their honesty, as they consistently turned the cash over to the police. When no one came to claim it, the finders received the money.
At least one element of the mystery came to an end Monday, when police said two people had come forward — although they asked to remain anonymous. Police said both people "had recently received unexpected windfalls and told police they wanted to give something back."
"One of the good Samaritans told detectives that they felt an 'emotional connection' to the village after being helped by one of the residents, so she wanted to repay the kindness she received," police said.
Police said that the pair left the bundles in places where people in need, including the elderly or vulnerable, would be likely to find them. They often waited until they saw someone pick up the money.
John Forster, detective constable, said Tuesday he had withheld the exact way the bundles were wrapped and that detail was used "to verify the authenticity of these people."
So the mystery was solved. "I think it was just a case of reassuring them," he said, "that it was deliberately meant for them to find."