You didn’t rake it in on the Mega-Millions drawing, but you might have cash or treasure waiting for you after all. Each year, State Treasurer Clint Zweifel opens abandoned safe deposit boxes in efforts to return property to its rightful owner, and if not the goods, the cash that comes from it. His staff has been clearing out the vault since November.
He says signed baseballs and vintage baseball cards are among the most interesting items, but the office also found a bronze star this year. He says returning military medals is one of his proudest and rewarding honors as treasurer.
Zweifel says military medals that can’t be traced back to their rightful owners are the only items that won’t get auctioned off. His office works with museums and veterans groups to put them on display for the public to appreciate.
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After a safe deposit box has been abandoned for five years, it’s contents are turned over to his staff to try to find the rightful owner. If they can’t be found, the money made from sale of the items is then held in a state account until it’s claimed. Zweifel says the money is never turned over to the state.
Zweifel shows off a baseball signed by Kansas City Royals’ Hall of Famer George Brett, cowboy spurs and a Looney Tunes tie collection, mink earrings with diamonds, hundreds of gold chains and other items.
“Each year we find new and interesting pieces tucked away in safe deposit boxes — it can be a very personal items like baby photos or a collection of gold coins, we see it all,” he says. “Safe deposit boxes make up less than 1 percent of the more than $600 million in Unclaimed Property that I hold, but the contents show us what people consider valuable. No matter what is found in the boxes, I always return it free of charge and the property never becomes the state’s.”
Since taking office in January 2009, Treasurer Zweifel has returned more than $113 million in Unclaimed Property to more than 347,000 accounts owners.
AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:12)