Honest Couple Finds and Returns Camera Bag with Gear and $11,000 Cash


A couple were visiting a vista point near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco this past Valentine’s Day when they came across a black camera bag that had apparently been misplaced. After the owner didn’t turn up to recover it, they looked inside and found a wallet with Chinese currency, credit cards, an “expensive-looking” camera and lens… and $11,000 in cash.

Barbara or Carlos Landeros of Vallejo, California then spent an hour and a half waiting some more for the bag owner to show up before they visited the police station in downtown San Francisco to turn it in. That process took another two hours, during which they had to repeatedly check on their car to make sure it wouldn’t be towed.

Days later, the couple learned that the police had located the owner of the bag by using information found on an airline ticket inside. It belonged to an ex-Bay Area college student who had been visiting San Francisco with his extended family. The man, identified as ‘Mark,’ thanked the Landeros and offered to be their tour guide if they ever visit China in the future.

If you ever lose your camera bag, your pricey gear, and a fat stack of cash while out on a shoot, you should hope and pray that it’s discovered by an honest couple like Barbara or Carlos Landeros. As the Vallejo Times Herald quotes SFPD spokeswoman Albie Esparza as saying, “It’s just really good to know that people nowadays still have the integrity to do the right thing and turn in something that’s not theirs.”

(via Vallejo Times Herald)

Image credit: Focus Bag by FailedImitator

  • Jez McKean

    How easy would it be to keep a business card in the bag?

  • Brendan

    Another good reason to label all your gear with name and telephone number.

  • John

    I would’ve done the same, poor guy, he probably never thought he’d see that bag again!!

  • gabe sturdevant

    I realize that it was a foreign photographers bag, but come on, leaving 11k in cash in it?

  • yeah

    Just a couple of days ago we found car keys next to the car itself in the parking lot. Just one phone call to the police solved it all.

  • Brian Watkins

    The sad part is that the Landeros’ actions are newsworthy rather than normal.

  • David Lee

    How do you just misplace that? probably at least 20k including the money… Hmm sounds fishy to me…

  • David Portass

    All my equipment, even flash domes have a sticker with my business name and website address just in-case of loss. It’s nice to know that there are still some genuinely decent and honest people in the world, sad to say most others wouldn’t have done what they did

  • Ian MacDonald

    The great thing is that when they visit China in the future they’ll have their own personal tour guide.

  • Sarah Bugeja Kissaun

    Wow. Very nice of them to have done that! I would have offered them more than a tour as a thanks!

  • Mark Wheadon

    How do you misplace it? Easy — forget it’s with you (think it’s elsewhere), think someone else in the group is carrying it — any number of ways. Expensive kit, once you’re used to it, doesn’t necessarily shout to you that it’s there and valuable all the time…

  • Mavourneen Strozewski

    Why would you leave 11k cash and camera equipment lying around? How does one FORGET that??!!

  • Doober

    No mention of a reward given to the finders other than offering to be their tour guide if they ever visit China in the future. Yeah great, like that’s even anything more than a remote possibility. I hope he at least gave them some money, and it just wasn’t reported here.

  • matt

    I’d argue that most are good. It is just that with large numbers of people there are more jerks. Try going out and volunteer for any charity and see how many good people are around you right now.

  • Matt

    I do not see it that way. I think it is normal for people to do the right thing. I do not see any issue with reporting it, it is great to hear now and then.. Nice people’s actions do not sell news papers to use an old saying.

  • /clh

    Labeling gear, business card in bag, all good ideas, along with what some photogs do — first shot always on the SD card is their “if found” info.

    And yes, what is really sad is that doing the Right Thing is newsworthy. Doing what’s right and good is always its own reward.

  • steve stevenson

    Makes you wonder what they were doing with 11k in cash on them.
    I’m a cash only guy, but I never carry that much on me at one time.

  • Andersen

    Regarding that 11.000 USD in Cash; It’s important to understand, that “cash” is not as “weird” in foreign countries as it is in the US. In many countries the people (especially the peasants) don’t trust banks. They prefer to have their money with them.

    One time a customer, who’s origins are in the turkey, paid me a big amount of money in cash. I was like: “Whoa dude, did you just rob a bank?” and he told me, that it’s perfectly normal for them. He may have a (relatively) big chunk of Cash in his wallet, but almost nothing on his bank account.

    Sure, the 11 k are quite a big pile of cash now, but he’s probably rich anyway and thus doesn’t feel it to be such a high sum and / or he wanted to buy something on that day. Who knows. When I go on vacation I prefer cash, too, since I don’t trust my credit cards to work everywhere either (and I unfortunately have been proven right once in that regard).

    Other than that: Nice couple. I guess they did have received something, either cash or a big “present” sent to their door – I certainly would do this – but maybe they just don’t want to make it that big or talk about it.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Only in the USA :)

  • Catherine Fenner

    I wouldn’t expect a reward. Doubt I’d accept one. It’s just what you do in life.

  • lucis

    It’s pretty common especially wealthy people coming from china.

  • Richard Sheehan

    Shooting a wedding once, I accidentally left a small camera bag with 2 expensive lenses in it at a park I was doing portraits at. I went to the reception and realized I had left it there, I went back immediately (missed a few shots) and it was gone…When I got home there was a message on my machine that it was found by another wedding party (popular spot) and I could meet them to get it…I had left business cards in the bag…Best part was I was 5 minutes away from them and one of the lenses wasn’t mine.
    There are honest people in the world…

  • Kurt B

    Not true. My mom found $1,000 in cash at an ATM once and she chased after the old woman who forgot it. This happened in Asia and yes, my mom is Asian.

  • Nathan Blaney

    Really! Every bag/case/etc of mine has got an easily located business card in it.

  • Lee

    This news is reporting the economy power of people of China, rather than showing the honesty nature of Americans. Imagine if the $11k is in $20 bill? probably fill up the whole camera bag? :D Good people!

  • Emil Travemat

    Maybe not known, even here, in Spain, not even mandatory, but custom says that you should give to the persons that gave it back 25% percent of value. Other way is to deposit the item in lost and found office, were you get a receipt. After one year, if the owner does not show up…it is yours to keep!

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    I’m an asshole, I would’ve kept it.

  • Christian DeBaun

    And who know what sorts of images were in the camera they found. They not only saved the gear and the cash – but possibly some precious memories. The greatest gift of all.

  • Scott Black

    Twice in my travels I’ve been lucky after walking away from my camera bag. Once in Hawaii and once in England. Both times I was gripped with the feeling that I had left my gear after I had wandered miles and hours away. I rushed back to find my bag where I had left it, but it could have been an unhappy ending. That’s what happens when the right side of your brain takes over! I would hope that if my luck ever runs out that people like the Landros’ find my stuff. Kudos and thank you!

  • DozenMeda

    If you “forget” your camera bag and 11.000$ cash you are probably a rich a**hole anyway…

  • David Liang

    Exactly, Asian countries are still cash transaction 90% of the time, credit cards are still relatively foreign and unused. I remember buying a computer 8 years ago in china, both myself and my uncle carried pocket fulls of cash to buy the computer.

  • jimjams101

    I once found a wallet with $1000 in it and returned it. I only hope that if it ever happened to me someone would do the same.

  • Doober

    I understand. The gesture would have been nice, however, even if turned down.

  • Chris

    I have 3k worth of gear and I guard it with my life. Sounds like a made up story.

  • Thanassi Karageorgiou

    what kind of stickers do you use and where did you make them? =)

  • Thanassi Karageorgiou

    While on vacation in Florida recently, I forgot my D700 with a rented 24-120 f4 lens in my camera bag, on a tennis court. I remember it 5 hours later, and 50 miles away. When I got back to the tennis court it was still there, untouched. There was no good-Samaritan couple in the story, so what’s the moral?

    I suppose that Tennis is not a popular sport among the elderly.

  • David Portass

    Just labels from a thermal office label maker but small enough they are unobtrusive but one on everything (camera body, battery grip, speed light, flash dome, light stands, light boxes, flash transmitter/receiver, tripod, monopod, bag, basically everything. Sure they can be removed with a bit of effort and won’t deter some but should something happen it’s something for me to go to the insurance company and say this has been stolen/lost, it has this serial number (always keep a record of this) and does have my details on it.

  • mugget man

    Exactly, not all good deeds are reported in the news. Bad news is what sells… And that is the really sad part.

  • Samuel

    Perhaps I’m a terribly human being but i would have at least taken an SD card for compensation,
    or maybe just a lens.
    Or a the body.
    And $1000.
    Maybe $10,000

    Nah i would have returned it too, but i would have used the camera a few times first so i can finally side by side compare the difference between the kit and modified lenses i use and the seemingly perpetual L Series lenses Chinese cameras seem to have.

  • John

    I can’t imagine someone actually clicked a vote down on my opinion here, are you a thief or what?