By: Matt Horn
May 22, 2013
Tangible items like diamond necklaces, historic dollars, silver bars and various valuables were once forgotten. They are now snugged away in a state vault in the state capital. “If it fits in a safe deposit box, we get it,” said Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property Chief, Walter Graham.
Every year the Bureau of Unclaimed Property receives the contents of forgotten safe deposit boxes, utility deposits along with many items. “We have to identify every single item we get, we have to describe it,” said Graham.
After the items are identified, the office tries to find the proper owners. If they succeed, they tell them how to claim their lost treasures. “Eventually we’ll sell these items because, as you see, we can’t continue to keep these things forever,” said Graham.
But, the auction doesn’t happen for years after an item is discovered. First, banks where the property is found have three years to find the owners. If they can’t be located, the items are sent to the vault.
Even if an item is sold, rightful owners are still entitled to the value of the item. “Our goal is to sale these items for as much as possible to give back to the owner should they come forward,” said vault supervisor, Liz Tatum.
Since the bureau opened in 1961 more than 2-billion dollars worth of property has been returned to the proper owner.
If you think you have unclaimed property you can go to FLTreasureHunt.org; the annual auction will be held in Tampa on June 8th.