HARRISBURG (KDKA) — Behind the 60-ton polished steel door of the 72-year-old vault of the Commonwealth is a world of riches.
The people who work for the state’s treasury department have gotten past being surprised.
“Somebody had a mounted stuffed piranha in their safety deposit box at one time,” Lori Hetrick, Pennsylvania Treasury Vault manager, said.
In the vault you’ll find anything from ancient coins to beanie babies. Police seizures end up in the vault as well. The items are sold and the proceeds go to the state’s operating budget.
“We make $115 million even before we engage in investments,” State Treasurer Rob McCord said.
Police seizures are just a fraction of what’s secured in the vault. The majority of the property comes from abandoned safe deposit boxes.
With regularity, the people in the treasury department find the person who owns the property believes the contents are still in the bank.
“If you have a safe deposit box and you move away, pass away or you stop making payments on the lease that you have with that financial institutions, it’s considered abandoned after five years,” Hetrick said.
The box is then drilled and the contents come to the vault.
While cash is put in the bank, collectibles remain here as well as the forgotten keepsakes.
“After it’s been held for a few years by us, it’s already been abandoned for five years and then we go through the process of liquidation,” she said.
The sale’s value ends up on the unclaimed property list waiting to be claimed.
Once you’ve determined through PaTreasury.org or by calling the treasurer’s office that you have something to claim, don’t expect them to ship it out tomorrow.
They take time to check for fraud and make sure that people aren’t making false claims.
“You do have to prove entitlement,” McCord said.
“We are the safeguard, we are the safe keeper, we’re the custodian so we want to make sure we are giving it back to the rightful owner,” Hetrick said.
But until that happens, it will stay encased in 400 tons of steel.