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These Are the Cities Where You're Most Likely to Get a Lost Wallet Returned

Losing your wallet is a surefire way to send yourself into a panicky tailspin, scrambling to cancel credit cards and increasingly dreading the fact that you'll have to go to the DMV for a new ID. But occasionally, good energy in the universe intervenes and an honest person will find your wallet and get it back to you. Occasionally, people suck.

So, where are you most likely to have a lost wallet returned? One man set off to find out by dropping a bunch of "lost" wallets in cities around the country and waiting to see how many residents would try and find their rightful owners. 

To figure out where people are most honest, YouTuber Mark Rober took 200 wallets, filled them with cash, cards, IDs, and pictures to make them look legit, and enlisted a crew to help drop 10 of them in 20 different cities and small towns around the country. To keep it somewhat scientific and account for certain variables like gender and income level, 60 of the wallets were left in restrooms (30 in men's rooms and 30 in women's rooms), half were dropped in high-income areas, and half were dropped in low-income areas. Each wallet also contained a numbered "If Found Please Contact" card with a phone number to keep track of them, if and when someone called to return one. If someone called to return a wallet, they were also asked a series of questions about their age and background.

So, uh, what happened? Well, amazingly 60% of the wallets were returned, and of those, 96% still had the money inside. However, some cities and towns turned out to be far more honest than others. All 10 wallets dropped in Chicago and Salt Lake City were returned. On the other end of the spectrum, only three wallets were returned in Detroit, and just four came back in New York City. Here's how the full findings break down.

10 Wallets Returned: Chicago, Illinois; Salt Lake City, Utah
9 Wallets Returned: Nashua, Iowa; Hill City, South Dakota; Portland, Oregon
8 Wallets Returned: Parma, Idaho; Las Vegas
7 Wallets Returned: San Francisco, California; Winnipeg, Canada; Washington, DC
6 Wallets Returned: Huntsville, Alabama; New London, Connecticut
5 Wallets Returned: Seattle, Washington; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; Dallas, Texas; Edmonton, Canada
4 Wallets Returned: New York, New York
3 Wallets Returned: Detroit, Michigan

Rober's experiment also led to some additional interesting findings. For instance, a person's gender didn't seem to play a role in their honesty, with roughly half of the returned wallets were returned by men, and the other half were returned by women. Also, and somewhat surprisingly, the return rates from high income and low income areas were exactly the same. Some other anecdotal data findings: the average age of a returnee was 36, and only 40% of the people who returned the wallets considered themselves religious.

Obviously, the best way to guarantee you'll get your wallet back is to not lose it in the first place (what's up, '90s-era wallet chains?), but it's pretty heartening to learn that two-thirds of the "lost" wallets were returned. Also, if you're going to misplace yours, hopefully you do it somewhere in Chicago or Salt Lake City.

h/tTastefully Offensive

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.