ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. – Robert Adams craved an ice-cold drink after finishing his shift on a sweltering workday, but not having enough money to buy the burrito he also wanted left him with two obvious choices: Stop at the ATM, or find a bag containing more than $17,000 in cash.
"I wanted to get a large horchata, which is almost like a rice or coconut milk," Adams told the Daily Herald (Arlington Heights) for a story published Wednesday. "I would have grabbed a chorizo burrito, too, but I didn't have enough money."
That changed Monday when the Chicago-area man stood at a Chase ATM in Rolling Meadows, looked down and discovered on the sidewalk near a newspaper box a clear plastic bag containing receipts, checks and $17,021 in cash — mostly $20 and $100 bills bound by a rubber band.
"I see this plastic bag. It's clear plastic and it's half full of money," Adams said. "I figure this is a joke. Somebody took some napkins and made it look like money. This has to be a setup. People are going to look at me and start laughing."
Adams said he never had the urge to keep any of the money.
"It's not my money. I shouldn't take it. I don't care if you put another zero on there, I wasn't raised to take money that isn't mine," said Adams, a 54-year-old single man who lives in Arlington Heights and credits his deceased parents for teaching him right from wrong. "If I saw you drop it, I'd say, `Excuse me, sir. I think you dropped something.'"
The word "Chase" was printed on the bag, so Adams carried it inside the nearby branch.
"I walk up to the teller and say, `I think you might have left this outside,'" said Adams, figuring an employee left it behind after restocking the ATM. But employees told him the machine is filled from inside and the money didn't belong to the bank.
Adams then called police, who along with bank officials later determined the money was meant for an ATM in Midlothian and had been under the care of Loomis, an armored truck company.
Rolling Meadows police took the money to the station, where it was picked up by a Loomis official.
Loomis officials said they were investigating, but have not said whether Adams will get a reward.
"I really don't know what happens with this situation," Adams said.
Onesimo Santillan, owner of the Senor Taco restaurant where Adams originally was headed to indulge his cravings, said the actions of his longtime customer don't surprise him.
"He has been coming in for years, always orders the same thing, very nice guy," Santillan said.
"It's hard to find people like that, honest people."
Rolling Meadows Police Chief Dave Scanlan said Adams did good: "We all said right away that this guy deserves something — credit for being an Honest Abe."