Haider Sediqi gave little thought to the small, zippered pouch that a passenger left in his taxicab when he got out at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday.
Sediqi stashed the brown bag in the front of his cab unopened and planned to deal with it later as he continued his day. The 40-year-old Afghan immigrant took his Checker cab to the car wash and drove a passenger to Long Beach before he met his friend and a fellow cabbie for lunch, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Sediqi asked his friend to check the bag for identification.
“Oh, God,” Sediqi reportedly recalled his friend saying as he stared into the bag. “Look at those things.”
Inside, packed in clear plastic cases were diamonds—about 100 of them, cut and polished and worth, it turned out, $350,000, the newspaper reports. Also inside was a cell phone bill.
Sediqi, a father of two with a pregnant wife, called the number, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Um, did you leave anything?” the Afghan immigrant reportedly asked the man who answered.
“Oh, my God,” jewelry businessman Eric Austein reportedly responded.
Sediqi arranged to meet Austein, who had not yet left LAX for New York, at the airport police station, the newspaper reports.
Police inventoried the diamonds and confirmed Austein’s identity, the newspaper reports. Austein calmly took possession of the gems, hugged Sediqi and promised him a reward.
Sediqi told the newspaper that keeping the diamonds never entered his mind, even though his wife loves diamonds and he dreams of opening a restaurant.
“God is up there,” he reportedly said Thursday as he waited outside an auto shop, where his cab was having its brakes fixed. “He always watches.”