Brooklyn Grandma Finds $100K In Safety Deposit Box, But Can’t Keep It

Let’s say you have some valuable things you don’t want to keep in your home, so you take out a safety-deposit box at your neighborhood bank. The bank manager leaves you alone in a transaction room to deposit your items, and you discover that your brand-new box isn’t empty. There’s money in it. $100,000 in cash.

That’s what happened to an 81-year-old woman and her boyfriend in Borough Park, Brooklyn, a few months ago. Trying to be honest, they handed the cash over to the manager. If this happened to you, you’d probably tell the story to people afterward, because it’s a good story. The woman did, and her friends and family pointed out to her that the ancient legal principle of “finders, keepers” applies in this case, and the money should be hers. Was that the case? The bank manager wouldn’t say what he had done with the money, and no one at the bank would answer questions about it. Did the evil, greedy bank take it? Did it belong to an extremely small criminal empire? Did the money legally belong to the old lady?

She turned, as people have to do all too often when dealing with large companies, to a local newspaper. The New York Daily News got the answers she wanted, but didn’t get them from the bank. The answer lay in New York State property law.

If she found a wad of cash on the sidewalk and turned it in to the police, it would be hers if it remained unclaimed for a year. No such luck at the bank: the bank holds on to the lost property for fifteen years, then turns it over to the state. Way to reward honesty, New York.

Woman finds extra $100,000 in safety deposit box, but bank takes cash and offers no explanation [New York Daily News] (Thanks, Dov!)