Employees at a Barrie, Ont. recycling depot learned the true meaning of the old adage, "one man's trash is another man's treasure," after one of them found $100,000 while picking apart an old television this week.
The 1980s television set had been dropped off at Global Electric Electronic Processing over a year ago. But it wasn't until this month that anyone got around to dismantling it.
General manager Rick Deschamps was holding his usual morning meeting when an employee rushed in with news of the jackpot find.
"She came running up with this security cash box and she goes, 'I found $10,000,'" he said. "I opened it up and I saw four bundles of $50 bills and I went, 'I think that's more.'"
'It's like finding the lottery'
He was right.
Together with the paperwork dating back to 1985, were bundles of cash amounting to 10 times more than the employee first thought.
"We do anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 televisions a month, so the odds that that TV came at that particular moment with that woman, she opened it up, started dismantling it and finding the cash box — it's like finding the lottery."
Deschamps called head office, had the box secured and called police.
"We had to do a little bit of an investigation to make sure the cash was getting into the right hands," Const. Nicole Rodgers of Barrie police told CBC Toronto.
A working treasure
Besides, Rodgers said, having such a large quantity of cash, mostly in denominations of about $50 bills, wasn't especially common back then.
After clearing the money of any criminal links, police were able to trace the bills using the documents in the box to a 68-year-old man in Bolsover, Ontario.
It turns out he had inherited the money from his parents, put it away for a rainy day and forgot about it — eventually giving the television to a family friend who had no idea of the treasure behind the screen.
If you're wondering if the television was working all those years, Rodgers said it more than likely was.
"These big box TVs from the 1980s have lots of space in the back. So you just unscrew the back, take the casing off and there's lots of space," Rodgers said. "I don't think it was an uncommon thing to put valuables in the back of a TV back then."
"For years, it was probably working with a box of $100,000 in it."
As for the man, Rodgers said, he and his family were shocked when police told them about the find.
"I think that they're just happy that the money was returned and this company in Barrie was just so gracious and honest," she said.
"It was a big deal for him."