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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Olympia

Did you misplace that $1000 bill?

Next Thursday and Friday in Kenmore, Murphy Auctions will sell to the highest bidder a long list of stuff found in abandoned bank safe deposit boxes.

After at least five years of no payment and no contact with the owners, banks and credit unions can turn the items over to the state Department of Revenue, which can keep it for a maximum of 5 more years, then periodically auctions it off. The state holds the money, which it will turn over if the rightful owner ever steps forward. (Keep reading to see where you can easily find out if the state's holding an old paycheck, utility refund or other money owed to you.)

"We've had some success in reuniting rightful owners with their personal valuables, but many items have gone unclaimed despite our best efforts," said DOR head Cindi Holmstrom. She said people can make claims "right up to the start of the auction."

Much of it is what you'd expect: pocket watches, stamps, baseball cards, lots of old coins, silver bars, old newspapers, gold nuggets, photos, silver baby spoons and so on. There's also this real one thousand dollar bill.

Among the unusual items: Animal teeth, 3 sets of (vintage) false teeth, a bottle of cheap champagne, and some battered brass knuckles.

It gets even stranger. Several people apparently kept their cell phones in safe deposit boxes, and one person kept his/her nail clippers safe. Someone stored a clip for a .45 automatic and some hex wrenches. And the newly revealed treasures include both a "Hits of the Eagles" karaoke CD and, incredibly, a karaoke machine to play that CD on.

Washington state holds $650 million in unclaimed property belonging to about 3 million people. The vast majority of it is cash, resulting from abandoned bank accounts, stocks, bonds, uncashed payroll checks and other abandoned property. Some of the property dates back the 1950s.

New property is constantly being turned in, but a big push by the Department of Revenue to find the owners of this stuff has resulted in more than $112 million going back to 240,000 owners in the last three years.

If any of the above items sound familiar, or if you remember that you never got that final paycheck years ago, etc., you can check the Washington Department of Revenue's searchable website for unclaimed property. Just type in your name or business name, and it will tell you if the state's holding some money for you.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.