Wallet stolen 20 years ago found, returned to owner

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – After 20 years, a wallet stolen at Depew High School was found in Stiglmeier Park in Cheektowaga.

The story began in the mid-90s, while Wanda Chase attended a football game at Depew High School.

“When I went back to my car, my car had been broken into, and my purse had been stolen,” she said.

She filed a police report, but never heard anything.

“You went home, canceled all the credit cards and moved on. And I never expected to see it again.”

Chase didn’t just give up hope. She pretty much had forgotten about it.

Around the time the wallet was taken, Cassie Dabek’s life was just beginning.

Fast forward to Sunday, 20-year-old Dabek was having a romantic picnic with her fiancé in Stiglmeier Park. They picked a spot by the water.

“He said, ‘What’s that here?’ And it was sticking right out of the ground,” she said.

They found Chase’s wallet three miles from where it disappeared.

“It was closed up likea wallet would normally be and my first thought was is there an ID in there? Then we saw your ID and I said we have to return this to her,” said Dabek to Chase.

After a quick White Pages search, Dabek was sure she’d found the woman from the ID.

“The same exact name and address popped up. I couldn’t believe it with a phone number,” said Dabek.

If she couldn’t believe it, imagine Chase’s reaction to hearing it had been found.

“What a wonderful person to even think to call.”

Chase is drawing her own conclusions to what happened.

“Whoever took it ran down towards the creek and did what they wanted to do with it and left it. Through the years the water rushing downstream just pushed it along,” said Chase.

The wallet now looks more like dirt than leather. But it still holds her ID that expired in ’97, a handful of credit cards, and closure to an incident she’d almost forgotten.

“It’s nice to get those things back and draw that closure to it,” said Chase.

“I figured she should have it back if I was able to get it back to her,” said Dabek.

These women learned they were connected not only by a stolen wallet. Dabek’s brothers both had Chase as their gym teacher in elementary school.

Chase said she plans to put pieces of the wallet into her scrapbook.

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