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TRIP TO THE STORE PAYS OFF WITH A SURPRISE REUNION

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Mike Bills left the grocery store Saturday night packing a wallet twice as thick as the one he went in with.

Bills just happened to be at Albertsons, 25 W. Center St., when police in the parking lot arrested a burglary suspect who was carrying the contents of a wallet Bills lost 18 months ago."It's really weird," Bills said.

Orem police received a report of a man rifling through cars at the store about 9 p.m. Saturday. When an officer found the man pushing a grocery cart loaded with personal items, he asked the man for identification. The man pulled a wallet from a box, looked through it and put it back, telling the officers he had no ID, said detective Gerald Nielsen.

The officer questioned the man further and again asked for identification. This time the man pulled a wallet from his pocket and handed it to the officer.

Still curious about the first wallet, the officer took that one, too. Figuring the driver's license and credit cards were freshly stolen from an Albertsons customer, the officer went into store to page the owner.

Bills and his wife, Melanie, had just heard a store announcement that customers should check their cars for valuables because police had nabbed a thief in the parking lot. "I didn't think much of it because we hadn't left any valuables," he said.

Then Bills heard his own name called. He thought maybe the burglar had broken into his car.

The police officer who met Bills told him he had his wallet. But that couldn't be.

"I reached into my back pocket and it was there," he said. "At this point, I was thinking it was another Michael Bills."

Upon closer examination, Bills saw his face on the driver's license. He recalled losing the license and credit cards about 18 months ago when he inadvertently washed his wallet in a pair of pants at a laundromat. "To the best of my knowledge, that credit card's never been used," he said.

But his license was apparently used Saturday to make a $200 withdrawal from the Billses' savings account via the drive-up window at a local bank. The burglary suspect, a 33-year-old American Fork man, had $199 on him at the time of his arrest, Nielsen said.