Lindsborg teens return purse with $7,700

LINDSBORG — In the 12 years that Tim Berggren has been the police chief in Lindsborg, he's had a lot of wallets and purses turned in to his department.

And most of them had one thing in common.

"There's never any money — or very little money — inside," Berggren said. Except for that one child-like purse turned in a couple of Sundays ago.

The day after their high school graduation ceremony, Selene Craig, Kristen Taylor and six of their friends were watching TV. Craig recounted how a commercial came on for chicken nuggets at McDonald's.

So the eight teens drove 20 minutes to the closest Golden Arches, in Salina. As they left to return home, they saw what looked like a purse by the side of the road.

The purse was made from fabric printed with black-and-white pictures of cats.

"We thought it was a 5-year-old's purse or something," Taylor said.

The teens started looking inside the purse for some clue to its owner. Craig searched the wallet.

"Oh my God, you guys, there's $10,000 in this purse!" she screamed after spying a thick wad of $100 bills.

The wallet actually contained $7,700.

"We took it out of the wallet and everyone wanted to touch it because no one had ever seen that much money at once before," Craig said.

The teens talked about what they should do and came up with a plan. Since they already were headed home, one of the group members called a friend whose dad works for the Lindsborg Police Department. When the teens arrived in Lindsborg, they turned the purse over to an officer.

Berggren said the purse's owner had a reason for carrying so much cash.

"She informed us that her husband had died and the money had been collected for a memorial for him," Berggren said. "She had gone to Salina to pay a bill. When she left to leave town, she'd left her purse on top of the car and it fell off."

It would have been easy for someone to have ditched the purse and kept the cash, he said.

"I think it's great. The (teens) didn't get a reward, but I certainly think they need recognition for that," Berggren said. "It speaks volumes for the type of people they are, and I think it speaks volumes for the type of parenting they've received."

Doing such a good deed, especially since the loss would have been so great, made the teens feel glad they were able to help, Taylor and Craig said. The other teens involved with the return of the purse included Rebecca Johnson, Weston Kennedy, Kristen Baker, Taylor Coney, Patrick Spellman and Matthew Taylor.

"It puts a good word on all our names, I guess," Kristen Taylor said.