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Racine woman returns Madison man's lost wallet back from Czech Republic

Posted at 9:53 PM, Aug 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 08:38:32-04

Despite traveling about 4,500 miles to lose his wallet, a Madison man only had to come 90 miles to Racine to get it back thanks to a chance encounter.

Jaroslava Karbulka returned to her homeland of the Czech Republic for a long visit this summer. 
The visit led to a chance encounter in a store in a small rural Czech town when the owner said an American left a wallet behind.

"He knew I was from the United States and he showed me the wallet and he said, 'Can you somehow help me get in touch with this guy,'" said Karbulka.

That guy was Steve Hiniker from Wisconsin who happened to be biking across Europe with his wife. He stopped in the store for some supplies and took off with his wallet still on the counter and unsure of how to get back in touch with the shop.

"I called the local police department and there was no one there that spoke English," said Hiniker. "So that didn't help so I called the tourism department and I had the same result, no one spoke English, and there was no number listed for this store."

Karbulka found Hiniker on Facebook and sent him a message. She offered to mail his wallet. That's when he told her how close he lived to her in Racine. He was in Madison.

"I was so shocked because we then when we find out we are from same state," said Karbulka.  "He said, 'Don't send it to me. I would like to meet you.'"

They met this past weekend when Hiniker returned from his bike trip.  All the credit cards and money, more than $300, were all there.

"Jaroslava has the great part of the story," said Hiniker. "She is the one who tracked me down and made this all happen. And you know, thanks so much to her and to people like her."