Donated dough? Vancouver Value Village worker finds $85,000 in cash


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s not every day someone comes across $85,000 in cash, but that’s exactly what happened to two workers at a Value Village warehouse in Vancouver.

Earlier this week, Jeffrey Stonehouse was sorting through donations with a colleague who pulled a bag from a cart.

“She wasn’t too sure what it was, it was just an old shopping bag with what looked like envelopes and papers. So she pulled out the first envelope, and ripped it open, and leaned over the table and said, ‘not much!’ Just leaned over and shouted it to me. We quickly left the sales floor, the production floor, with the bag, and went to the office, and started to do an investigation on what we had found,” Stonehouse explains.

After a nearly two-hour count, they found themselves staring at $85,000 in cash.

“We were [reacting] even before we were close to done. Initially, we grossly underestimated what we were dealing with and we were a little surprised. We thought we’d come across maybe $5,000 to $10,000. Certainly when we were halfway through, we knew we had exceeded that, and by the time we were done it was like, ‘Holy smokes!'” says Stonehouse.

Stonehouse was a little nervous at one point that the cash may have been acquired through some sort of illicit activity.

“The next question was, ‘Was it, was it acquired in a legal way?’ And then there was some information in the bag that told us how the money was … where it came from. And so we were confident that we were dealing with somebody’s savings.”

After a bit of sleuthing, he and his coworker pieced together the provenance.

“We discovered a few things. First of all, the condition of the envelopes in the bag and the elastic bands around the money certainly told us that it hadn’t been touched for quite some time. The dates on the envelopes, we knew the owner of the cash had been squirrelling it away over a number of years, and probably the last time that it had been touched was 1997.”

Stonehouse also noticed the cash had been neatly organized and catalogued, and there were a couple of names that were repeatedly written on the envelopes. An address was also included.

Not long after, police were called, and Stonehouse says he’s grateful that the officers will probably be able to return the dough to the rightful owner – a senior who recently moved into a care home.

“You know, seniors in Canada don’t live on very much money, so it feels really good to know that we were able to return it to the owner. She’s in a situation where she probably needs it, and this will help facilitate a comfortable remainder in her life,” says Stonehouse, who also notes that he hasn’t heard from the family of the woman.

While he’s seen many donations come and go in his 15 years of work at the Vancouver location, this one certainly takes the cake.

“We’ve processed a lot, and put a lot out onto the sales floor every day, so we do see a lot, but nothing in this magnitude. It was very, very surprising. More often than not, what we’re dealing with when somebody misdonates or directs an item in our direction, it’s usually things of sentimental nature, such as wedding dresses or engagement rings or family photos,” he says.

“And I have, in the past, had spouses come to our donation centre – one very mad with the other – and acted quickly and swiftly to find those items for them. Sometimes I’m the marriage counsellor while I’m doing that,” he says with a chuckle.

Since the money was passed along to Vancouver police on Tuesday, Const. Tania Visintin says they’re working to reunite the owner with the cash. They’ve managed to identify the person based on a bank receipt that was mixed in with the donation.

“It appears the money was stashed away 25 years ago,” Visintin tells NEWS 1130 in an emailed response.

Visintin says the owner will be getting the money back.

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