A strange man who left a suitcase stuffed with nearly $1 million in cash at an Australian pizzeria was arrested Wednesday by New South Wales police. To make matters all the more bizarre, police delivered the odd patron -- allegedly a 49-year-old from Hong Kong who was in Australia in a student visa -- to the hospital for an unknown pre-existing medical condition.
The unusual story began on Tuesday, when staff members at the Caffe Marco got the shock of their lives after discovering a suitcase stuffed with approximately $977,000 in cash. The suitcase was left behind by the man, said to be nervous-looking and dressed like a surfer. Staff called police thinking the bag might actually contain a bomb.
The AP reports that detectives are waiting until the man recovers from his mystery affliction before asking him more questions about the cash.
Senior Constable Chris Nash said that if the money legitimately belongs to the man it would be returned but if the cash is proceeds from a crime it will likely be forfeited to the government.
“Our friend in hospital has some questions to answer once he is released,” acting Superintendent Ian Pryde told the Morning Herald. The unlocked suitcase was full of genuine, used Australian currency in various denominations, along with personal items and identification documents, Pryde added.
The man, reportedly dressed in a yellow sleeveless shirt, shorts and sandals, left the bag in Caffe Marco early Tuesday morning. After ordering coffee, and acting nervously according to staff, he abruptly left – without his suitcase. He was spotted and picked up nearby later in the day.
It’s the second time this year Australian cops have found bags stuffed with large amounts of cash, after two men were charged with recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime when they arrived at a station allegedly carrying two suitcases with millions in cash. But Pryde said the case was still unusual: “I don’t carry that much around with me. Do you? I think most of us are just happy to have $20 in our wallet.”
Reports do not indicate whether or not the pizzeria will receive a reward for turning in the cash, or what the stranger's ailment might be.
An AP report follows:
The Associated Press contributed to this story.