WENATCHEE -- It's not quite a Christmas miracle, but it does feature a wrapped package, precious metals and an unexpected act of giving.
Rick Acosta was working on his furnace when he discovered a small, tape-wrapped cardboard box inside the casing, according to Wenatchee police. Inside the box: 50 silver ingots and a silver coin, altogether weighing 501 troy ounces, worth almost $15,000.
Acosta had no idea where the silver came from or whether he had any legal claim to it. On Dec. 24, he contacted Wenatchee police, who began trying to sort out the ownership.
"We did some research," said Sgt. John Kruse, "and found out the silver actually belonged to the (previous) owner of the house who moved out six years ago."
That prior owner had relocated to western Washington. Investigators checked with city attorneys, who said under Washington law, hidden household property that's not abandoned still belongs to the owner who placed it there.
The box of silver was returned to its original owner, Jack Davis, last week, Kruse said. The bars were marked with serial numbers, and Davis produced ownership papers dating from 1985.
Davis also rewarded Acosta with a check, for "a significant amount," Kruse said.