A lost family heirloom ... grandma's jewelry ... grandpa's military medals ... maybe cash.

Each year, millions of dollars worth of unclaimed property, much of it from safe deposit boxes, is turned over to the state.

That is where the Missouri State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division comes in. Its purpose is to reunite owners with lost property, which may have been forgotten, or perhaps lost during a natural disaster.

“Sometimes things get lost over a period of time,” said Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick. “People move or forget about old bank accounts that still have money in them. It’s a natural thing that happens.”

The state's Unclaimed Property Division will be setting up at Northpark Mall next week to help reunite area residents with lost property.

One in every 10 Missouri residents has some type of unclaimed property with an average return of $300, according to the state. That's more than $1 billion in unclaimed property in the state of Missouri, with more than 5 million accounts.

Jasper County has approximately $14 million worth of unclaimed property, maybe more.

“We are still calculating the increase in new accounts for Jasper County,” said Mary Compton, director of communications. “We get new cases every day, so we will see what the new numbers will be.”

State officials also said there may be a higher volume of unclaimed property in Joplin because of the tornado that hit eight years ago today, which is part of the reason they are coming to Joplin next week.

For the surrounding counties, the numbers are as follows:

• Newton County: $3,021,083.51

• Barton County: $719,232.27

• McDonald County: $1,602,750.60

Property that has been left with no contact from the owner for up to five years has to be reported to the UCP, which will then send a letter to the owner at their previous known address, or a new address if it can be found, to request positive confirmation of the missing property.

“We always try to do our due diligence,” said Fitzpatrick.

It’s not just heirlooms or money that have gone unclaimed.

“We found a full clown suit one time ... the whole thing: wig, red nose, big wide pants, and colorful shirt. It was so funny," said Fitzpatrick.

Other finds have included changes of clothes, a ski mask, a handgun, and even original animations from the 1989 Disney film “The Little Mermaid."

You can check for unclaimed property by going to the State Treasurer’s website at treasurer.mo.gov and looking under “Unclaimed Property." You also can file a claim by filling out a report form on the website or you can contact the Unclaimed Property Division directly. The phone number is 573-751-8533, ext. 1.

Joplin stop

Missouri's Unclaimed Property Division in Jopin from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, at Northpark Mall.

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