Imagine setting up a security deposit box, but then moving away or totally forgetting about it.
That happens more often than you think.
Because of this, over the years, the state of California has collected $8 billion in unclaimed property. While much of this is money, it also includes hundreds of thousands of physical items – ranging from a bag of diamonds to stacks of restaurant receipts.
Nothing, however, ever gets thrown out and instead housed at warehouses around Sacramento. The main vault, which is where the most unique items are kept, is at the California State Controller’s Office in Rancho Cordova.
The man in charge of organizing it all is Ken Parham. He’s known as the “curator.”
Over the years, he and his team have found several historical artifacts.
Inside a vault in Rancho Cordova where the state of CA holds hundreds of thousands of unclaimed items 👀 pic.twitter.com/Sj3ehFlIDn— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) June 7, 2017
“We actually got a congressional medal of honor that was awarded through a guy that survived through Pearl Harbor and was actually single handedly responsible for keeping his ship firing during the attack on Pearl Harbor,” Parham told ABC10 during a tour of the vault. “We actually had the opportunity to be involved in the press conference with the controller to return that to the gentleman’s sons.”
Parham said the state does their best to find owners.
“We can do whatever research is possible based on the information that’s given to us by the bank to try to track down the person who owned the box,” he explained, “And then through just a lot of different resources, try to track them down or any possible heirs that might actually have the rights to those contents.”
They’re not always successful, however.
One of the my favorite unclaimed property items in the vault is this chunk of tea from the Boston Tea Party pic.twitter.com/Nxq1y4LXfI— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) June 7, 2017
Some of the items on display at the vault include a baseball that appears to be signed by Babe Ruth, a chunk of tea that is reportedly from the Boston Tea Party, and a bag filled with thousands of tiny diamonds.
“When we received them they were still in the original box that the gentleman mailed to himself from Taiwan,” Parham said about the diamonds. “He just basically mailed it to himself and must have just taken it directly to the bank, thrown it in to the bank, and apparently just forgotten about it.”
To find out if you have any unclaimed property or how to claim it, check out this easy step-by-step here.