Carlos and Barbara Landeros only wanted a little Valentine's Day romance.
So last Thursday, the Bay Area couple decided to drive to San Francisco for a swanky romantic dinner. And of course no romantic outing would be complete without a pre-dinner trip to the Golden Gate Bridge. But as soon as the Landeroses pulled neared the bridge, Barbara spotted a black camera bag without an owner in sight.
With tourists running to and fro, she and Carlos stood guard over the bag in hopes the owner would soon return.
"We wait about 45 minutes before we picked up the bag," said Barbara Landeros at her Vallejo home. "Because we didn't know who it belongs to."
With no one returning for the bag, Barbara eventually decided to take a peek inside. At first she saw a camera lens, then credit cards, then an envelope of cash — lots of cash.
"I got nervous at first, it could be drug money," she said. "I was scared."
The Landeroses finally decided the thing to do was take the bag to San Francisco's Hall of Justice to turn it in to the police.
"He said 'good for you guys,'" she recalled of the policeman who took the report. "'I'm proud of you.'"
It turns out that wad of cash inside the bag was no small sum.
It totaled $11,060.42. Police used the credit cards to trace the bag to a visiting Chinese tourist in San Francisco.
Mark, who didn't want his last name used, said he was excited to get the call from police. "When the officer give me everything, and he said happy Valentine's Day," said Mark, who was in the last day of vacation before returning to China.
He said he was carrying the cash for several families who were traveling together and that he forgot the bag after posing for family photos on the bridge.
"I think somebody who pick it up and return," he said, "it really is someone very, very kind in heart."
Mark said he tried to call the Landeros family to thank them but had the wrong phone number.
So he piled his family into a rental car and drove out to their Vallejo home to thank them personally. Only they weren't home.
He said he finally reached them by phone and was able to thank them. He also put a check in the mail with a reward.
It seems Mark's Valentine's Day ended a lot better than Barbara and Carlos'. After spending hours making a police report, they hit rush hour traffic heading back to their home in Vallejo. Valentine's Day dinner ended up being a snack at McDonald's next to the police station.
Still, Barbara said she believes in karma and was happy not to invoke any of the negative kind — and she figured she and Carlos at least got a few photos and a story out of their day.
"So my heart is rested now because the people got their money and their bag," she said.