Jan 27, 2012 7:14 PM by Andy Koen

Jalapeno held clue to missing cash caper

It took two acts of honesty to return a Pueblo West couple their $400, and the restaurant owners who held the cash for the past month couldn't be happier to give it back.

During the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas days of late December, Cris and Arlene Beltran had stopped for a quick lunch at the Passkey in Pueblo West. Cris was carrying an envelope with the cash, three $100 bills and two $50's, in the front pocket of his sweat pants.

At some point the envelope fell out, and Cris never knew it was gone. But as they drove away, another customer pulled into their parking space and spotted the envelope. He took it inside and handed it to restaurant manager Chris Keickhafer.

That customer, who remains anonymous, only remembered a gray Subaru was pulling out of the space. Keickhafer and owner Stephanie Pagano knew the Beltrans as regulars, but couldn't remember their names or how to contact them again.

Last week the Cris and Arlene returned to the Passkey having all but forgotten the money, but Pagano hadn't. She told Keickhafer that she recognized them and he had a way to tell for sure.

"She goes, I think the couple is here. They pulled up in a gray Subaru," Keickhafer recalled. "And I said, just ask the gentleman if he has his jalapeño with him because he always brings his own jalapeños to eat with his sandwich."

Pagano eagerly questioned the Beltrans and Arlene, who was embarrassed by the jalapeño question, admitted yes that was them. The spicy side dish was enough to prove that the money had found it's rightful owner.

Cris says he was both surprised and grateful to have the money back.

"There (are) thoughtful and honest people here in this county, in Pueblo here," Cris Beltran said.

As for the mystery man who first brought the envelope in, Keickhafer bought his lunch in gratitude for his honesty. The Beltrans want to express their appreciation to him as well.

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