- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

Finders aren't necessarily keepers in the D.C. government.
In fact, D.C. officials are trying to find the owners of millions of dollars worth of unclaimed property found by city workers.
The District's Unclaimed Property Unit (UPU) today is releasing an updated list of people believed to be owners of property acquired by the city. In the past six months, the unit has received 3,536 unclaimed assets worth more than $2.1 million.
That doesn't include such items as a pair of tickets to the congressional impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson or other valuable loot left in safe deposit boxes forgotten about for decades, said Elliott Kindred, the unit's director.
But it does include a gold necklace, a diamond ring, a box of rare coins, even a trunk full of goodies and cash that has been lying around for years.
The UPU eventually auctions off things like the historical tickets and safe-deposit-box goods, Mr. Kindred said. But officials never stop looking for rightful owners of unclaimed property, he said.
Unclaimed property comes into the city's possession primarily from banks, insurance companies, utility companies, hospitals, universities and other entities. Most of it, Mr. Kindred said, "is things like checks someone sent you and you forgot to cash."
He said there are other cases, though, like the woman living in a nursing home whom the UPU gave $1 million because she had forgotten about some stocks her father had given to her years ago.
During the past five years, $33 million in unclaimed property has been returned to D.C. residents. The publication of today's list is part of an ongoing effort to reunite residents with their lost or forgotten assets.
"A person may have died and their great-grandchild will see his great-grandfather's name in the paper and they will call us," Mr. Kindred said. "If someone came 10 years from now with sufficient documentation of who they were, they could claim the money."
The program, which began in 1980, lists more than 330,000 names with a total of $150 million in unclaimed property, he said. "We are here as a resource for the citizens of the District of Columbia to help them find their property."
If you find yourself on one of the unit's lists, officials recommend you contact the UPU, an arm of the D.C. Office of Finance and Treasury. You will be given a claim form to complete to verify that you are the rightful owner.
Mr. Kindred said he receives "thousands" of claims.
To prevent fraud, the unit is "very strict" about making sure people are who they say they are, he said.


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