Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Cabby finds $1.1m in his taxi and returns it

Cabby: I can't use money which doesn't belong to me
By Royston Sim, The Straits Times, 20 Nov 2012

A TAXI driver yesterday returned $1.1 million in cash that had been left behind by a Thai couple in his cab.

The money - in $1,000 bills - was inside a black paper bag left on the rear seat.

ComfortDelGro cabby Sia Ka Tian, 70, had picked up the couple - on vacation here - from The Sail condominium at Marina Bay at around 11.30am yesterday.

After he dropped them off at Golden Mile Complex in Beach Road, he proceeded to look for a parking space so that he could visit a toilet.

After returning from the lavatory, he noticed the black paper bag on the right side of the back seat.

In it was another white paper bag which contained stacks of $1,000 notes.

Said Mr Sia: "When I saw the money, I thought, trouble is here. I was sure there was at least $200,000 in the bag."

Afraid that someone else might get into his cab, he locked its doors and drove straight to ComfortDelGro's lost-and-found department in Sin Ming.

"The money is unimportant to me. It doesn't belong to me, so how can I use it?" said Mr Sia, who has been a cabby for 31 years.

His colleagues at the office were stunned when he handed over the bag of cash. They counted the money and realised it was $1.1 million.

At the same time, the couple had contacted ComfortDelGro via a friend. They went to Sin Ming, where Mr Sia was waiting at the lost-and-found department.

To express their gratitude, they gave him a reward for his honesty. Mr Sia declined to reveal the amount.

The couple also declined to be interviewed and did not disclose why they were carrying such a large amount of cash.

Mr Sia, who joined ComfortDelGro as a cabby in 1981, has made six reports to the lost-and-found department in the past three years.

The items left behind were mostly mobile phones and bags.

ComfortDelGro said this is the largest find to date. In 2009, another cabby returned 5kg of gold bars worth $377,000.

Spokesman Tammy Tan said Mr Sia had acted quickly and with great integrity by returning the money directly.

She said: "Finding $1million in cash is not an everyday affair and, in fact, we wonder how many people would have possibly been tempted by it.

"We are immensely proud of him, and are glad that the passengers recovered their money."

The taxi operator also intends to present Mr Sia with its Crystal Award which is given to cabbies who have provided good service.

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