New Jersey: Marcario Panuil found nearly $5,000 in a lost wallet on the sidewalk and decided to return the wallet and its contents to their rightful owner. Panuil, a 20-year-veteran of the US Postal Service, found the wallet containing $4,800 — all in $100 bills — while on his delivery route in Jersey City.

Kindness in deed: Panuil (left) and Rev Rudolph Daniels Sr, at a ceremony at the Bergen South Station Post Office, New Jersey, where the former was feted  by US Postal Service for his honesty

Estimates suggest that 1,000 wallets are stolen in the US alone every two minutes. And an estimated 9 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year, often resulting from stolen wallets or credit cards. “I need to give it back to the owner,” Panuil said later.

And as it turns out, returning the wallet was not only a good decision in principle by Panuil, but his action also resulted in a touching, personal story.

The wallet’s owner, Reverend Rudolph Daniels Sr, says he had withdrawn the large amount of money to give to his children as a late Christmas present. He says he lost the wallet while walking home in a snowstorm.

“I just assumed the money was gone,” Daniels said. “It was unbelievable. I was speechless.” Adding to his already impressive act, Panuil has refused to accept a reward from Daniels.

In recent years, there have been other stories of returned wallets but none involving such a large amount of cash. Last year, a Canadian woman had her wallet returned 23 years after it went missing.

In that case, there was no actual money involved but there were a number of priceless photos and even a birth certificate in the wallet.

The value of the gift certificate given to Panuil by the Postal Service as a reward