Every year, a few hundred customers report to the authorities that precious objects – art, souvenirs, diamonds, jewelry, rare coins, piles of cash – have disappeared from their coffers. Sometimes it`s the customer`s fault. People remove objects and then forget to have done that. Others allow children or spouses to access their boxes and do not realize that they have removed things. But even if a bank is clearly responsible, customers rarely get back more than a small fraction of what they`ve lost — if they get something back. The combination of lax rules and customers who don`t pay attention to the fine print of their boxing leasing agreements allows many banks to deflect their responsibilities when valuables are damaged or lost. Oddly enough, the bank returned five watches that were not his. “They were the wrong color, the wrong size – very different from what I had,” Poniz said. “I didn`t know where they came from.” In addition, safes only allow access to most banks during bank hours. If you need to retrieve something you put in your box in an emergency scenario, you can only do so when the bank is open to transactions. As a result, items such as passports, wills and powers may not be ideal for this type of long-term storage.

Mr. Poniz called in lawyers. One of them, Kerry Gotlib, said he pushed the bank to find the missing items. It could not have done that. He asked for financial compensation; The bank said no. So Mr. Poniz complained in New Jersey Superior Court. “There is no doubt that Wells Fargo drilled the box and took out the contents, stored it and then returned it,” John North, a lawyer representing the bank, said at a court hearing last year. “The underlying quarrel is, has everything been rendered or not?” In a six-page report submitted to Highland Park police, Mr. Poniz described the watches, coins, documents and other items that had disappeared. He estimated the total value at more than $10 million spent on auction records and sales reports.

This would be one of the biggest losses in American history. Banks and credit unions typically charge a fee for renting a safe. This tax usually corresponds to the size of the box, where larger boxes cost more. The tenants also share the contents of the box as well as any liability related to the box. Sharing a safe with a spouse or other person can be convenient if you both have an interest in what it contains.