Bend locksmith buys back safe -- finds $50,000 inside

Returns cash to seller, who says he forgot his savings there

Safe buyer finds $50,000 inside

BEND, Ore. - Many businesses and people use safes to store their personal belongings -- often ones of very high value.

But when one Bend man was re-selling his safe, he forgot to take something out -- something big.

Most of the time, safes that are re-sold are empty, of course. But sometimes there are hidden treasures inside.

Bend Lock and Safe owner Bryan Donnell says he found $50,000 inside a safe he recently bought  back from a Bend man.

Donnell knows about safes -- he's been in the business for decades.

"I've been all over the state and opened safes that are usually (holding) family heirlooms, etc. etc.," Donnell said Thursday.

He's found other hidden, forgotten treasures, including $300 or $400 -- but not $50,000 -- until now.

"My knees shook a little bit," Donnell said.

"We had a safe full of money," said the former safe owner, who did not want to be identified. "I didn't bother counting it when I pulled it out."

It was back in 2007 -- when public fears of the banking system collapsing were high -- that the man says he bought the safe.

"My wife and I pulled a huge amount of our personal savings out of the banks and put them in the safe," he said. "Stuffed them in the safe and kind of forgot about it."

Last week, he decided to take the money and put it back in the bank, then sell the safe back to the place where he bought it.

"When you have stacks of cash, you just don't really know exactly what you are dealing with," Donnell said. "And so it was a complete surprise."

The safe seller says he forgot he had stored the $50,000 in a hidden compartment inside the safe.

As for being called by Donnell to tell him what he left inside, the former owner said, "I don't know how many of us would do the same thing under those circumstances."

"If it were me and I just had my hands on $50,000 that nobody knew about, the next phone call you will get from me would be in Mexico, where I would be laying on the beach, saying, 'Having a good time, wish you were here.'"

But Donnell said his decision was easy.

"I have to look at myself in the mirror in the morning," he said. "I might not like what I see, but at least I know I'm honest."

Donnell was offered some of that cash as a reward, but said no.

So instead, the grateful safe seller gave Donnell a gift basket with a huge bottle of single malt whiskey.

He also received a card that says on the front: "To the most honest man in Bend.'

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