Annie Warner was wandering around the mall in Bellevue this summer - “just looking,” she said - when she spied a wallet on some nearby stairs.
The Central Valley High School sophomore picked up the billfold and opened it.
Inside, three tens and a twenty. Fifty bucks. There, just for the taking.
And there was Warner, 16, and all alone inside a shopping mall.
Talk about tempting.
Not to mention the fact that Warner’s bicycle had been stolen two weeks before - the bike that was her main mode of transportation back home in the Spokane Valley.
Fifty dollars would go a long way toward replacing that two-wheeler.
Warner, who was visiting her aunt at the time, said she didn’t hesitate for a moment.
She took the billfold and the money and … turned them over to some mall employees.
“I thought I should turn it in because if I lost my wallet, I’d want it returned to me,” Warner said from her home in the Valley this week. “I thought the money would be nice, but then I said I should turn it in.”
Warner’s honesty helped the Seattle area rank at the top of a Reader’s Digest survey gauging the honesty of Americans.
It also helped her get a new bike.
For the survey, Digest staff members dropped 120 wallets in cities throughout the nation earlier this year and waited to see what happened to them.
The wallet Warner discovered at the Bellevue Mall was one of the magazine’s “lost” billfolds.
She and eight other people who found the 10 wallets left around the Puget Sound area turned them in with the $50 contents still inside.
That 90-percent return rate topped the Digest’s survey.
Warner said after she turned over the wallet, she was approached by a Reader’s Digest crew, who interviewed her for an article on the survey that appears in this month’s issue of the magazine.
The Digest staffers also gave her the $50 to reward her for her honesty.
“I was really surprised,” she said.
Spokane radio station KXLY-AM 920 got wind of Warner’s story when Reader’s Digest hit the racks earlier this month.
Morning show host Pete Fretwell relayed the story on the air and starting taking up a collection to replace Warner’s stolen bike.
KXLY executives decided the station would just buy her one instead. Warner collected the new Schwinn mountain bike Monday.
“It just goes to show that good deeds do get noticed,” said Michael Espinoza of KXLY.
Warner, who likes to swim, draw and paint, credited her parents, Kim and Colleen Warner, with teaching her honesty.
Her mother said this week she was proud that her daughter turned in the $50 and was glad she learned her values at home.
Although, “I think I would have been tempted to think that money was a good down payment on a new bike,” Colleen Warner said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: Saturday’s People is a regular Valley Voice feature profiling remarkable individuals in the Valley.