The two boys and two girls between the ages of 10 and 13-years-old couldn’t believe their luck when they noticed the bundle on Espenstrasse en route to their Griesheim district school early on Tuesday morning.
When they opened it they found €15,000 and paperwork for a visa in China.
“They threw the envelope away and excitedly took the money and papers to school,” spokesperson Karlheinz Wagner told The Local.
There they distributed the money among their friends, but it wasn’t long before they began to feel uneasy and one of the group told a teacher what they had done.
“They will not be prosecuted or punished at school,” Wagner said. “They realised after awhile that it was wrong and came clean. And besides, they're children.”
But collecting the money back from students proved to be much more difficult than its distribution, he confirmed.
By the time police arrived at the school, school authorities had collected only €12,000 and had to appeal to the students once again to return the money. They ended up with €14,040.
In the meantime police had contacted the owner of the identification the children found in the envelope. The 33-year-old Afghan citizen, who has lived in Offenbach for some time, told police that he had lost about €15,000, but couldn’t name the exact sum. He said the money was to pay a trip to China, tuition fees there, and to cover debt.
“If he can provide proof, such as bank account details, and investigators determine that he didn’t acquire the money illegally, he can have it back,” Wagner said.
German law dictates that anyone who discovers a large sum of money is entitled to three percent – which will go to the children when the owner is confirmed.
But if police don’t find the rightful owner the money will go to a lost property office.
“If no one claims it within a year or so the children will get the money,” Wagner said.