Most people perceive the items they place in bank safety deposit boxes as valuable, hard to replace documents or that are significant part of family history, money, jewels, you name it.
Safety deposit boxes are safe right?
Certainly the items sealed in the boxes are safe from hazards such as theft, rain, fire, etc. But what happens when the owner forgets about the box and its contents?
In WI as with all states there are laws regarding the disposition of abandoned property. In WI the Office of State Treasurer has the responsibility to return property to its rightful owner after 5 years of missed rental payments. Last year they returned about $35,000,000 to the owners. So far the 2013 total is at $4,188,844 and counting.
Sometimes they cannot find the owners or heirs to return the property. In other cases the contents of the safety deposit box is not worth the back rent payments to the person so the State Treasurer will destroy and dispose of documents such as insurance policies, marriage licenses, birth certificates, passports, etc.
Items that have value will be sold at auction; this is where EBay enters the process. Kurt Scheller State Treasurer has setup an EBay account for the state of Wisconsin and auctions off unclaimed items monthly.
Right now there is a “Be My Valentine” auction. All things related to Valentine’s day are being auctioned. Bids start at a penny.
Here some photos of other items sold at previous EBay auctions.