Sun, May 05, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Who’s hiding the stolen money in Belgium?

AP, ZEDELGEM, Belgium

One contrite individual wrapped a big wad of money in an envelope and deposited it there.

Not a good idea.

Once word got out, thieves tried to unhinge the heavy stone letterbox over the weekend and make off with its contents.

It did not work and, the postbox stood there half-cracked for days — a sad testament to human greed.

On Thursday, Arnou watched as workmen repaired the postbox and encased it deeper in concrete.

The case has triggered a passionate debate in Zedelgem.

“There is a major discussion between people who think it should be given back and those who say ‘keep what you got,’” Arnou said. “We are talking about sharp debates and opinions are very divided.”

However, for local prosecutor Jean-Marie Berkvens things could not be clearer.

“Fraudulent concealment carries a maximum jail penalty of two years,” he said.

At the Cartouche bar, across the street from the city hall postbox, bar owner Emely Derous has been moderating between people on both sides of the divide.

She said picking up the money is just human nature.

“Jokingly they say: ‘I would have done it this way or that way to keep as much as possible,’” Derous said. “‘And yes, I might have done the same thing myself. I think everybody thinks that way.”

Police want them to change their minds.

In a letter sent around to townsfolk, police again asked for a return of the money and added: “If you have additional information regarding people who picked up money, pass it along to our services.”

In those magical minutes that Saturday, it remains unclear whether anyone took out a camera or a mobile phone to capture the moment. And there is no CCTV on the street.

The lack of evidence only adds to the suspense for Arnou. However, the consequences promise to be serious.

“For now, police are still trying benign ways,” he said. “Once everyone has had the chance to talk and it turns out they still have money, then the legal cases will come.”

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