BARI, Italy—A taxi driver in Milan found a bag full of money in the back seat of his car after dropping off two young Russian tourists at their destination. Gerardo Capraro’s first thought was, “Bingo!”
After the two left his taxi on Jan. 4, he found 5,200 euros ($7,064), and a bunch of Russian rubles (one ruble is worth $0.03) and credit cards inside the bag.
After careful consideration, Capraro, a father of three, decided to do the right thing. In a nation still struggling from the economic crisis, his actions captured the attention of the nation.
“I have taxes to pay, I have this and that to pay …” he thought, looking at the money. But he said, “The second thought was ‘give it back’ and I actually followed my second thought … without any regret,” Capraro said.
At first he could not find the two tourists, but then his colleague managed to track them down, as the tourists had called to book the taxi. “Their faces were white as milk,” Capraro quoted his colleague describing the tourists’ emotional reaction when they were contacted.
“The money was not mine, I absolutely had to give it back to them,” Capraro said. Even when business for taxi drivers in Italy is not good, and “there is no work,” he said.
“Working from this morning until now, I have 35 euros [$48 dollars] in my pocket,” Capraro said at noon on Jan. 7. “There was a time it was a good job, but now it is a very bad one,” he said.
The Russian tourists gave him a 100 euro tip (about $136). Some of his colleagues suggested he could ask for 10 percent of the money in the bag, or about 520 euros, without considering the rubles, but Capraro did not want anything more. “It’s ok, it’s fine just so,” he said.
Capraro has been both praised and criticized for his act of honesty, but most people praised him. “To me the most important has been the praise from my family—from my three daughters and my wife—who are the most important persons in my life,” Capraro said.