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Savings bonds owner, finder unite

Local man who found $15,000 in bonds reunites the money with its rightful owner

Posted: March 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: March 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.

From left, Rick Steinbruecker, Brian Caballero, and Ken Royce sift through old documents that Steinbruecker found in a filing cabinet at The Signal's office in Valencia on Wednesday.

 

Rick Steinbruecker’s five-year search for the rightful owner of $15,000 in U.S. savings bonds that he found near the Santa Clara River officially came to an end Wednesday with a handshake, a hug and several repeated heartfelt thank yous.

Before Kenneth Dare Royce Sr. flipped through a wad of crisp savings bonds bearing the names of his deceased parents, he wistfully unfolded other documents collected and preserved by Steinbruecker these last five years: high school diplomas, his father’s honorable military discharge, deeds and several black-and-white photos from his childhood.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, man,” Royce told Steinbruecker.

Royce, 50, of Santa Barbara, met Steinbruecker at The Signal on Wednesday afternoon. Royce said he was stunned by the official documents that were recovered.

The U.S. savings bonds bear the names of his parents, Wilbur and Joan Royce, of Santa Barbara.

When the two men met, Steinbruecker asked to see Royce’s Social Security card.
Royce produced it.

Steinbruecker checked it and handed over a box containing many elements of his family history.

“Can I give you a hug?” he asked Steinbruecker.

He put down Steinbruecker’s cardboard box containing the paperwork and savings bonds and hugged him.

Royce offered to give the local man a reward, but Steinbruecker declined.

For Steinbruecker, it was the end of an exhaustive mystery that started with a discarded filing cabinet at the western end of Santa Clara Street.

How did the savings bonds end up dumped on the banks of the Santa Clara River?

“I paid a guy to haul a bunch of my stuff when I first moved here from Santa Barbara,” Royce said. “So I guess he just dumped it somewhere.”

A reader who came across a story in The Signal about Steinbruecker’s discovery called the newspaper with details of Royce’s whereabouts.

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