A thief who dropped a winning lottery ticket at the scene of his crime has been given a lesson in honesty. His victim, who picked up the ticket, then claimed the £25,000 prize, managed to trace him, and handed over the cash.

The robbery happened when math professor Vinico Sabbatucci, 58, was changing a tyre on an Italian motorway. Another motorist, who stopped “to help”, stole a suitcase from his car and drove off. While doing this he dropped a lottery ticket he had with him.

The professor found the dropped ticket and stuffed it in his pocket before driving home to Ascoli in eastern Italy.

Next day, he saw the lottery results on TV and, uncrumpling the ticket, realised he was a winner. He claimed the 60 million lire prize.

Then a battle with his conscience began. It lasted for several sleepless weeks. Eventually, he decided he could not keep the money despite having been robbed.

He advertised in newspapers and on radio that he was trying to find the man who had robbed him.  He also said that he had 60 million lire for that man - a lottery win. At the bottom of the advertisement he asked the man to meet him and guaranteed him anonymity.

Professor Sabbatucci received hundreds of calls from people hoping to trick him into handing them the cash. But there was one voice he recognized – and he arranged to meet the man in a park.

The robber, a 35-year-old unemployed father of two, gave back the suitcase and burst into tears. He could not believe what was happening. He asked the honest man why he hadn’t kept the money.

The professor replied that he couldn’t because it wasn’t his.

Then he walked off, spurning the thief’s offer of a reward.


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