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First day in America, visitor loses $3,000 in Peoria lost and found— and gets it all back

Peoria airport lost and found

Atul Khanna wasn’t happy after his first 24 hours in America.

The visit started well. But not long after his plane zoomed from his native India to Peoria, he lost his wallet — which contained not only a sleeve of credit cards but also a thick wad of cash.

As in, $3,000.

“This was the first time I’d been to the U.S.,” he says in wonder. “It was the first day, and on that first day I lost the wallet.

“Can you imagine that?”

The recollection prompts a chuckle, which he can do now because the story had a happy ending. Remarkably, his wallet was returned, with all the cash and cards intact.

“My wife was crying,” Khanna says. “She was not believing it.”

Khanna has lived all of his 35 years in India, where he works for a bank. His wife of seven years, Bhawna, 32, is also a native of India. But she is in the middle of a yearlong assignment working in the insurance industry in central Illinois. She lives in an apartment outside Peoria.

This month, Atul Khanna got his first chance to see his wife in a long time: He would get to come to Peoria for a 20-day stay. On Oct. 13, he landed at the Peoria airport, where he was greeted by his wife. They drove to her apartment for the night. read more Peoria airport lost and found

The next morning, they went back to the airport to stop at Avis Car Rental, from which she had been renting a car. However, the rental agreement was about to expire, and the couple decided to get a different car. She did all the paperwork, then they left in the new car.

That afternoon, he discovered a problem: He could not find his wallet. He looked around the apartment, then the car, but found nothing.

Panic began to set in. For the trip, in addition to his credit cards, he’d thickly lined the wallet with $3,000 in cash.

Why so much? In India, he says, the credit-card systems often get fouled up, so he often carries cash. For the trip to America, he worried about credit-card troubles that could leave the couple unable to enjoy themselves. Plus, he wanted to buy souvenirs for relatives. So, he decided to take plenty of cash, just in case.

But less than 24 hours after his first step on American soil, he had lost the small fortune.

As the couple scrambled around in search of the billfold, she recalled that he’d had the wallet when they were in the original rental car earlier that day. As a precaution regarding the loss, Khanna contacted the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office to explain the problem. A deputy said he would write up a report on the missing wallet. However, Khanna was told that there was little chance of ever seeing the wallet again, let alone the cash or cards.

“Losing the money was a big deal,” Khanna says.

Still, the search resumed. The deputy called the airport’s lost and found but was told no wallet had been turned in. Meanwhile, he contacted Avis, which said a cleaning team had seen no wallet in the original car — which already had been rented out again.

With the couple’s hopes sinking, Avis manager Jennifer Lambert did some digging. She contacted the car’s new lessee (who had driven to Decatur) and asked him a favor: Would he mind checking the car for any sign of a billfold? He agreed, saying he’d call back after searching.

A bit later, he phoned Lambert, stunning her with the news. Groping deeply in the floor gap between the front seat and the door — an area not typically seen by Avis’ car cleaners — he’d snagged a wallet. read more Peoria airport lost property
“There’s a substantial amount of money in it,” he told her.

He counted the cash for Lambert: $3,000, the same amount as Khanna had put in there. Lambert drove out to Decatur to retrieve the wallet, which also still contained the credit cards.

“I praised the gentleman,” Lambert says. “He gave back exactly the amount that was lost. That’s a really great story, especially in today’s world.”

Then she called Khanna and his wife.

“They were as thrilled as could be,” Lambert says.

Soon, Atul Khanna was reunited with his wallet.

“Avis was so very helpful,” he says.

Still, he has one regret: Because of confidentiality rules, Avis would not reveal the name of the man who’d returned the wallet. So, Khanna did not have a chance to thank him.

Avis wouldn’t tell me his name either. So, somewhere out there, there’s a mystery good Samaritan with a heart of gold — or, at least, a heart of $3,000, which is still pretty darn impressive.

As Khanna says with an appreciative chuckle, “There are still good people on this earth.”

Lost something at Airport or in a flight? Click here to report online

Dedicated investigation manager for every successful lost report. We work with more than 15000+ Airports & Airlines lost and found offices worldwide. Increase chance of locating your lost property TODAY.

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