About 30 years ago an Ontario man stuffed a wad of cash and banking documents inside a box, opened up the back of his television and hid the package inside.
He then didn't give it much thought until detectives came to his home near Peterborough, Ont., last month carrying the box and asking him if he knew what it contained.
It turned out the 68-year-old forgot all about his secret stash — amounting to $100,000 —and had given his television to a friend who dropped it off to be recycled. The cash was only discovered when the set was recently dismantled at a depot.
"He was quite surprised and excited that it was returned to him," said Const. Nicole Rodgers of Barrie police. "I think it's amazing."
Police discovered that the man — whose name they did not release — thought he still had his stash squirrelled away at home, Rodgers said.
Growing up, the man had stored money around the house, Rodgers said, and it was a practice he continued throughout his life.
"They didn't use a lot of institutions or banks," she said. "He had put it in a really safe place and that place was inside the TV."
The man told detectives the money came from an inheritance given to him by his parents, Rogers said. But after forgetting about the cash, he gave the television that held the stash to a friend a few years ago, Rodgers said.
About a year ago, that friend recycled the television, which ended up at the Global Electric Electronic Processing, a recycling plant in Barrie.
Last month, an employee at the depot began taking apart the TV and came across the box and the banking documents, according to police. The employee then took the goods to her supervisor, who called police.
Rodgers said the company didn't have to call police — by law the television was given to them and became their property.
"It's commendable what the employee and the company did," she said. "They just said 'this isn't about this being ours, it has to mean something to someone.'"
Police discovered that the banking documents dated to 1985, Rodgers said, along with contact information. And since man hadn't moved in more than three decades, they found him quickly.
Police also asked the RCMP to see if the money was counterfeit or linked to a crime. The cash came back clean, Rodgers said. So they began talking to the 68-year-old man.
"You don't call them up and say hey, 'we have some money,'" Rodgers said. "We had detectives go out and speak to them in person."
Police discovered that the man was a business owner, discovered when his parents retired and spent a month investigating the situation.
Rodgers said the man and his family were "ecstatic" when the cash was returned.
"They said the money will be in a safe place," Rodgers said, adding that she didn't know if that meant inside their home or at a bank. "I hope they learned their lesson — or at least make a note on the fridge where it is."
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press