Brian Jakubowski held the pouch with $7,000 in cash that he’d just found on the street, and he didn’t hesitate.
The Columbia Heights man, out for a bike ride with his five kids, pedaled the money and kids to the police station that night.
But no one was there to take it. So he went back a couple of days later to turn it in.
“In my younger days, I might not have been such an honest person,” said Jakubowski, a father of modest means who came across the vinyl bank pouch with the cash and another $17,000 or so in cashier’s checks lying in the middle of the street one evening last week.
“This was something, that whoever sees it, it’s probably going to get into the wrong hands,” Jakubowski said he recalled thinking at the time.
Fortunately for the Richfield restaurant owner who lost the loot after placing it on his vehicle before driving to work that day, Jakubowski’s hands were the ones that snapped up the pouch near 44th Street and Madison Avenue.
“I’ve got to give credit to God for my turning it in and giving it to the rightful owner,” he said Thursday.
As a bonus, the 45-year-old Jakubowski said, his children, ages 11 to 17, got a lesson in honesty.
“Some people might teach their kids, ‘If you find money, it’s your money; finders keepers,’ ” he said. “Hopefully, people do the right thing.”
Police Capt. Lenny Austin said his department contacted the money’s owner, Michael Mai, “who was obviously surprised and happy that someone was honest and turned it in.”
Mai filed a police report after realizing the money was gone. It was cash he desperately needed to pay employees and order new inventory for his Vietnamese restaurant, Cadao Express, he said Thursday.
One day he hopes to thank Jakubowski in person for the good deed.
On its Facebook page, the Columbia Heights Police Department gave Jakubowski a big social media atta boy: “In today’s world, where everything reported seems to be negative, divisive, or discouraging, take heart that we have a community full of honest, hardworking and dedicated people who look out for each other and help contribute to our ‘All American City!’ ”
Jakubowski later called Mai. “He wanted to give me a reward,” said Jakubowski, who said he earns about $20,000 a year working in his father’s vacuum cleaner repair shop in Coon Rapids. “I said no.”
Staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.