Upper West Side Kid Gets ‘Reverse Mugged’: Loses Wallet and Finds It With MORE Money Inside


Photo by Earl.

Just how safe has the Upper West Side become? When you lose your wallet these days, people find it and stuff more money in!

A local mom sent in the following (somewhat beguiling!) story, and asked us to spread the love.

“How do I thank a stranger on the UWS? How do I thank the whole UWS. Or maybe the city?

My 12 year old son, unbeknownst to him, dropped his wallet on the way home on Monday night. He walks from Columbus and 77th one block east to Central Park West.

The next morning, I called the JCC (his picture ID was in there) and the deli where he stopped to buy water, no wallet. He said, “don’t worry mom, I wrote my phone number on the outside, so if someone finds it they can just call me”. “uh huh, sure”, I said. So I told him that everything is replaceable, even the $3 in change is okay, someone may need it more than we do. Remember he’s 12, never carries a lot of cash to school.

22 hours later, he walks by the museum again and spots something near a tree on the edge of the sidewalk. He finds his wallet, with an additional $40, two 20 dollar bills were inside the billfold part. The wallet and all of its contents were intact, plus extra. To describe it better, someone would have had to unzip it, open it, insert the cash, and place it back. Mind you with a popular tourist area and a subway not far away and the two-way street, there had to be a lot of foot traffic.

How to return the kindness of strangers in a neighborhood and city like this?

Thank you NYC! Thank you UWS!”

And yes, we already asked: She had no idea why this person didn’t simply call the phone number.

ABSURDITY | 35 comments | permalink
    1. Ian says:

      Ah, if only our fearful leader had a fraction of this strangers instinctively generous heart.

    2. UWSHebrew says:

      “spots something near a tree” and finds his wallet? what kind of nonsense is this? the whole “incident” is someones idea of a bad joke straight out of a 1950’s small-town USA local newspaper column.

    3. JR says:

      This story doesn’t really make any sense. Why would the good Samaritan assume that the owner of the wallet would actually return and find it before one of literally hundreds of passers-by would come upon the wallet and grab the cash? Why not just call the phone# to guarantee return to the true owner? That would have been the right thing to do.

    4. Martha Weissberg says:

      What an intriguing story. I guess the boy’s best choice now is to pay it forward and make sure someone else gets the favor. That’s what some of us do with found treasures. I thank these people for sharing this sweet story.

    5. Gonne says:

      The cynic in me suspects that the kid is a money launderer—genius way to explain additional cash to a nosy mother, who might spot the wad in a shoebox under his bed, say. Has she checked her silver lately?

    6. Sara says:

      Is this story serious? Look at the pictures of the dollar bills.
      On the right, Jackson is smiling and on the left, Jackson is scowling. They do not look real! Please tell me this is an early April Fool’s story.

    7. Jim Brown says:

      More likely a mugger put the $40 from another victim in the wallet along with his earlier $3 loot,
      intending to retrieve it when the coast was clear. The kid beat him to it.
      The feel good story doesn’t compute. Why didnt the ‘Good Sammaratain’ call the phone number in the wallet instead of putting it in the bushes? Any alternative theories can not be mentioned.

    8. Eln says:

      Now that is the New York I love & grew up in. No PC BS (at least not so far). 😉

    9. Sara says:

      Send this story to Metropolitan Diary (New York Times)!

    10. Laurel P. Weber says:

      Great story! Who said New Yorkers aren’t nice??

    11. David says:

      Anyone who believes this fairy tale must be the most gullible individual n the world! Oh, btw, I have. Bridge to sell….big job, really nice…..links NYC to Jersey……all yours for $40! Hurry!! You can’t afford to pass up this bargain!

    12. Lon says:

      I found a kid’s wallet on 81st & Broadway this weekend. The ID had just a name so I searched for the last name, that was unique, in a phone book a few years old. Found the address to find out the family moved three blocks. The doorman at the old address said he would get it back to the owner…I am hopeful!

    13. naro says:

      Such nonsense stories dont belong in a respectable publication.

    14. Rob says:

      Someone might call this “fake news” and, if nothing else, the headline is grossly mis-leading. Mugging? When and where?

    15. Jen says:

      Fake news this belongs on Fox News!

    16. jezbel says:

      This cannot be true. I love me some serious NYC. The Upper West Side has been home all my life. But this is too fantastic to be real. The way homeless scour the streets for anything usable or marketable, they’d have found this in a heartbeat. If the kid “found” his wallet with more money it it, he must have put it there himself. Holding up other kids for lunch money. Stuff like this doesn’t happen here. This happens in Mayberry. New York City is certainly reality.

      On a day like today where innocent children are killed in their own high school it would be nice to believe this city with a heart could produce “reverse muggings” but real life is real life.

    17. lynn says:

      This is hilarious! Sounds like the 12 year old made some extra $$$ and concocted this whole story for his mom, lol.

    18. UpperBestSide says:

      After deep investigative research in MY OWN GUT (aka “The Truth Center”, aaka “The No Spin Zone (except after Indian take out)”), I have uncovered the TRUTH of this story:

      Child is mugged by nebishy older man and is afraid to tell mother, likely for fear of revealing his own weakness ( I see this alot in prepubescent men).

      Nebishy older man goes to “the museum” the next day to cash in on the 12-year olds likely student discount admission.

      Nebishy older man drops wallet outside of “the museum” because his hands are slippery from sweat because he sees the 12 year old whomst he mugged last night.

      case closed, good night UWS sleep tight

    19. Chrigid says:

      Decades back, sometime around changing uptown trains at Columbus Circle, I was relieved of a wallet full of cash and one poem. The lifter put the wallet in a mailbox, and the post office wrapped it up and sent it on to me. All the cash was intact but the poem was gone.

    20. tony bien says:

      NO WAY!

    21. Florence says:

      This story is not as fantastic as it sounds. Several years ago, my wallet was lifted from my handbag at the Sony store on 5th Avenue. A few days later, I came home to an envelope containing my wallet with a $20 bill tucked in and a note stating “I have a drug problem. Please pray for me.”

    22. Rachel J says:

      Hello everyone, i just want to say this could be a REAL Story!! Why do i say this…..well i use to live on 91st between columbus and central park West. One evenning i dropped my small clutch purse not even realizing it was gone because i had other bags in my hand. The next day the police showed up at my work at the Cafe de Artiste, where i was working as a Chef. The police returned my purse with everything still in it. You may wonder…how did the police know where i work??? Well, i had my paycheck still in my purse and my wallet with all my identification and home keys!! All was still inside! I thanked so wholeheartedly the kindness of the person or persons who turned it in.😇😇😇 Positive Energy still exists and whether you want to believe it or not….there is more Real soulful Goodness in this world than we allow ourselves to experience. Allow yourself to grow into that beautiful state of being…..and you will feel it too and witness it all around you. I promise you this.

      • Rob says:

        This is not what happened here! They didn’t make any effort to return the wallet. They just allegedly left $ in the wallet for any random person to find on the street. Ridiculous. The kid clearly made up the story, for whatever reason.

    23. Zeus says:

      Mama better do a truth test on the kid.
      NYc is a good place to be in, but this
      is pure BS.

      • manhattan mark says:

        In the late forties and early fifties on the UWS if a kid was coming home with extra money he was either shining shoes, selling something to other kids or was the school bookie taking
        bets. In my school you would have to pick three baseball players to come up with six hits in that days game, the odds were against you.

        • lynn says:

          I’ve heard of children as young as 10-12 selling their gaming equipment and iPad minis for cash at school and then telling their parents they were lost or stolen, in which case the parents readily replaced said items. It’s a different day and age.

    24. Lara says:

      I love the UWS and have returned wallets the reasonable way. Please fact check stories like this. This is totally nonsensical. Enough with fake news. The “founder” of the wallet should have called. Who drops a wallet on the ground with money in it?

    25. Skeptchick says:

      HA HA This is filed under absurdity.

    26. Chester the Dog says:

      The kid is not telling the truth.

    27. Mr. Alarm says:

      IF this story is fact and not fiction – it doesn’t make sense, even for someone who wanted to be anonymous, to leave money in a found wallet there and assume it would be found by the one who lost it – then Sherlock Holmes may have some theories: 1. The ‘stasher’ was using it to hide his own money, temporarily.
      2. If a generous NYer is as alleged the ‘stuffer’ of the wallet, than he/she was not concerned with who got it, and most likely thought a homeless person would find it and be blessed.
      3. The wallet was mistaken for a secret safe spot with a co-conspirator, and the “transferred intent” for this monetary ‘deposit’ mistakenly befell the intended “victim”.
      4. The child, or perhaps the parent, misunderstood or misconstrued the facts of what happened.
      5. The wallet was fancied a wishing well, the bequeather simply making a very generous ‘donation’, presumably for the same reasons people through change into a fountain.
      6. Someone else was money-laundering, so putting the 20s in the wallet was a way of unloading ‘hot goods’.
      7. The bequeather didn’t care who got the money, they just thought it was a lark and figured someone would find it. Maybe a homeless person, or maybe someone would find it and send it back to the owner. But they didn’t want to ‘get involved’, and preferred the anonymous “pay it forward’ fad of seemingly selfless-giving for a ‘good works’ reward, or fear of superstitious bad luck for not doing good.

      BTW: the phrase in the title, “Reverse Mugged” is, for those of us who have unfortunately actually BEEN mugged – in NY or elsewhere – a really poorly scribed phrase. “WS Kid Finds More Than He Lost” would be one of many more descriptive phrases.

    28. MaxGTV says:

      You’re welcome : )