Man Finds $135K Next To Cash Machine And Hands It In To Police

by : Cameron Frew on : 18 May 2020 08:39
Man Finds $135K Outside Cash MachineAlbuquerque Police Department/Facebook

When a New Mexico man found $135,000 lying next to an ATM, he didn’t high-tail into the sunset – he handed it all in to the police. 

After trying to buy his grandfather some socks online, Jose Nuñez Romaniz popped down to his local bank to deposit some money. However, as he walked up to the Wells Fargo branch in Albuquerque, he spotted something odd next to the cash machine.


It was a clear plastic bag filled with a ‘foot-long stack’ of $50 and $20 bills. It’s a classic moral question: do you take the money or do the right thing? For Nuñez, there was no deliberation – and for that, he’s been praised by local officers.

Man Finds $135K Outside Cash Machine 2Albuquerque Police Department/Facebook

While the 19-year-old never considered keeping the money, Nuñez was undoubtedly confused; wondering whether this was some sort of prank or if he was in any immediate danger.

The Central New Mexico Community College Student, who’s pursuing a degree in criminal justice, told CNN:


I didn’t know what to do. I was, like, dreaming. I was just in shock. I was looking at myself and just thinking: ‘What should I do?’

It was a Sunday morning when Nuñez found the cash – so with the bank closed, he decided to call the police, who came and took it back to the station. It has since been concluded that the cash had been accidentally left outside by a bank subcontractor who was meant to fill the machine.

Man Finds $135K Outside Cash Machine 3Albuquerque Police Department/Facebook

Officer Simon Drobik said: ‘This money could have made an incredible amount of difference in his life if he went down the other path, but he chose… the integrity path and did the right thing.’


On May 8, the Albuquerque Police Department presented Nuñez with a plaque commending him for ‘exhibiting the pillars of APD: integrity, fairness, pride and respect’, while three local businessmen gave him $500 each for his good deed.

Meanwhile, local sports radio station 101.7 FM rewarded him with signed memorabilia and season tickets for the University of New Mexico football team. ‘It’s the coolest story… it’s unbelievable what the kid did,’ said station president Joe O’Neill.

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”Meet Jose, this week his selfless actions lead him to…

Posted by Albuquerque Police Department on Thursday, May 7, 2020

As he stood over the wads of cash, Nuñez had his mother’s ‘chancla’ in his head – the threat of being hit with a flip-flop as punishment for misbehaving.


He added:

My parents always taught me to work for my own. Stolen money would never last you any time… [My mum] told me I did the right thing and that she was proud of me. She called me and almost started crying.

Albuquerque’s police chief has since invited the teen to apply for a job as a public aide to the department. More importantly, after handing the money over, Nuñez finished what he started: he ordered those socks.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: News, Money, New Mexico


CNN and 1 other
  1. CNN

    An Albuquerque man found $135K next to an ATM. Instead of walking away with it, he called police

  2. Albuquerque Police Department/Facebook