For Years, California Government Looted Safety Deposit Boxes for General Fund

Where do you put your important documents?

I know quite a few people who use a safety deposit box to hold very important items, feeling it is a safer place to hold things they don’t want to lose. But what if the state changes the laws concerning when property is considered “abandoned?” Over the years, California has dropped the state’s waiting period from ten years without contact all the way down to three.

The whole while it was looting the newly “abandoned” property:

San Francisco resident Carla Ruff’s safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked “owner unknown.”

“I was appalled,” Ruff said. “I felt violated.”

Unknown? Carla’s name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address — a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too — still does — and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she’s the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.

“They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed,” Ruff said.

To make matters worse, Ruff discovered the loss when she went to her box to retrieve important paperwork she needed because her husband was dying. Those papers had been shredded.

And that’s not all. Her great-grandmother’s precious natural pearls and other jewelry had been auctioned off. They were sold for just $1,800, even though they were appraised for $82,500.

“These things were things that she gave to me,” Ruff said. “I valued them because I loved her.”

Ruff is far from alone and the state of California was seizing more than safety deposit boxes:

A British man went to retire and discovered the $4 million in U.S. stock he had been counting on had been seized and sold for $200,000 years earlier — even though he was in touch with the company about other matters.

A Sacramento family lost out on railroad land rights their ancestors had owned for generations — also sold off as unclaimed property.

“If I had hung onto it, I would be a millionaire, multimillionaire,” said John Whitley. “But that didn’t happen because we didn’t get to hold it.”

Why was the state doing this? They needed the money. It’s that simple.

The state was using the money from auctioning off unclaimed property in the general fund. They became dependent on it, as if they were addicted to it. Some in the California government even lobbied against state efforts to notify citizen’s of their property because “It could well result in additional claims of monies that would otherwise flow into the general fund.”

They denied the citizen the opportunity to reclaim what was rightfully theirs because to them, the state programs funded by the money were a higher priority than the right of the citizen to personal property.

This is a different level of redistribution. For decades, the state has been content to simply loot the taxpayers paycheck. But when that wasn’t enough, it found ways to loot the taxpayers personal property. Rather than ending government programs which it could not afford, it sacrificed the liberty of the people.

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