What one woman says the City of Coeur d’Alene did with the unclaimed money she found

A Coeur d’Alene woman who found money on the ground and turned it in to police was surprised to learn what the City did with the unclaimed cash.

Stephanie Stevens says she planned to pay off school lunch debts for children in need if the $25 she found on the ground went unclaimed.

More than a month later, she was surprised to hear the cash was being added to the City of Coeur d’Alene’s general fund.

Stevens was walking to her car in a grocery store parking lot when she says she came across a small bag of cash on the ground. It was only $25, but Stevens said she wanted to do the right thing. So she handed the cash over to Coeur d’Alene Police and posted to Facebook.

“That could be a gallon of milk for their family, could be a gas tank to get to work,” said Stevens.

More than a month passed when, on Thursday, Stevens decided to call Coeur d’Alene Police to see if anyone had claimed the money. Police said they still had it, but Stevens was surprised to learn where it was going.

“The person on the other end of the phone was like ‘Oh, the case closed. It was transferred to the general fund,'” Stevens said.

She posted the update on Facebook, and the response was overwhelming.

“They were like ‘that’s not right! That’s not right, they’re not supposed to do that,'” Stevens said.

4 News Now reached out to the Coeur d’Alene Police Department and the city attorney, who said they would be calling back. Then Stevens got a call.

“They’re like ‘Yeah, you can pick up the money. It’s here,’ and I was like, ‘But you told me it was case closed and transferred yesterday. What? That makes no sense to me,’ Stevens recounted.

Idaho state law says anyone who finds $100 or more must report it to the County Clerk. If no one claims it within three months, the person who found it gets to keep it.

Deputy City Attorney Randy Adams said, despite what Stevens was told, the money was never going to the general fund. He says these types of cases are so rare, there’s no clear policy in place.

It’s something the City will now have to figure out, Adams says.

Stevens plans to pick up the money sometime next week. She says she’ll be taking it to a local elementary school to pay off those lunch debts.

She hopes her story will inspire others to do the same.