When he realized he'd accidentally dropped his wife's wallet at the Fayetteville Khol's, Joseph Smith took it upon himself to find out exactly what happened, and discovered surveillance video showing a woman picking up his wallet, taking out the cash, and giving it to her two children.
Smith, who lost the wallet on Jan. 1, did his own investigation and took the results straight to CBS Atlanta, rather than the police department. He told CBS Atlanta that the woman in the video "kind of stops, looks down, picks up the wallet, then walks into the next set of doors standing in front of the entrance. She opens up the wallet and starts handing out what's in it to her kids. There was about $100 cash and 200 to 300 dollars in gift cards."
The incident particularly bothered Smith because of the example the woman was setting for her children.
"What really gets me is I can see an adult doing it, it's just kind of the world we live in, but when you have your two kids with you. To set that kind of example, to say here not only is it ok to pick it up but let's go through it, let's take what's in it, and then not even turn it in," Smith told CBS Atlanta
Detective Mike Whitlow with the Fayetteville Police Department says Smith originally filed a lost wallet report, which happens routinely and "is not something that would be assigned to a detective." Instead of reporting a theft and allowing the police department to collect the surveillance videos, Smith took it upon himself to obtain the videos and bring the information to CBS Atlanta. Whitlow says this isn't how it should have been handled, but it could end up working out in this case.
"To be honest if I'd called CBS and told them about this story, they may not have run anything about it. But since the victim brought it to them, they printed it plus a photo, which could help us find the woman."
Whitlow says taking money from a lost wallet is "absolutely" a crime, referred to as "theft of mislaid or lost property."