“Man finds safe containing 7.5 million dollars inside storage unit he bought for 500 bucks. Placing the final bid that ultimately won the contents of a storage container that would become the dream of a lifetime or the ultimate nightmare.
When a man uncovers what really lies inside his container, he’s shocked, and when the police showed up at his door hours later, he wasn’t ready. He was just getting comfortable with bidding on storage containers that were on auction, spending money that he didn’t have was a huge gamble when you have no idea what’s inside.
But there were so many stories out there about people striking it rich, even some people finding whole classic cars and driving off into the sunset. So far, he’d been lucky, managing to sell the contents for just a little over what he’d paid for the entire lot, but it was a lot of work and a lot of time going through someone else’s junk, sorting, cleaning, and then finding the right buyer.
He was almost at the end of his rope; if there was nothing big in this one, he was done. Joe stood outside the container with about 15 to 20 other people eager to Rubberneck what was inside the 5×15 unit. These were too big to get a good look inside, however, because they could store the contents of a one-bedroom apartment.
Ideal for furniture, including a couch, chair, and small dining set, sporting equipment, bicycles, business merchandise – not ideal for glancing inside and spending hundreds of dollars on the bidding was fun, not exactly what you see on TV, which is high drama, shouting, pushing, screaming, and general mayhem, but definitely fun, especially when he got into a bidding war with someone.
It felt good to win, and he warned himself not for the first time that he would stick to his budget – don’t spend what you can’t afford to lose. He didn’t want to learn the hard way, but he just couldn’t seem to help himself. This time around, the container was packed tight with furniture and other goodies he wanted to look a little closer at, and some annoying woman behind him kept upping his bid.
It started at a hundred dollars, a hefty starting bid, but the container was awfully full; he bet she upped it a little; he bet again, and so it continued. How long could this go on? 350 in, and he was adamant he would be the winner.
Four hundred dollars, and she still hadn’t given up, but neither did he. 450, 460, 470; finally, the bid settled on 500; he was shattered and shaking as reality returned. He realized exactly what he’d done – there better be something amazing inside that box he had won. Everyone but a few drifted away from the site now that a winner had emerged; they’d lost interest in the contents because they hadn’t won anything themselves.
But a few stayed around to watch the new owner enter the small building; they only wish they’d been the ones to win it when they saw what he found. Joe slowly walked into the 5×15 unit; it was packed with old furniture, but enough of a gap existed for him to walk between the items. He felt sweat prickling the back of his neck and forehead; the furniture alone wouldn’t cover the high price he’d laid out for this unit.
There’d better be something amazing, and he began looking. It didn’t jump out at him as it would have in a movie; after all, it was just a dull gray container lying on the floor next to a chest of drawers. But Joe knew what a safe looked like without any fancy CGI to help him; he called up his friends to come out and help him open the safe, even if he looked all day, he doubted he’d find a key.
One power drill later, and they were drilling deep into the lock to force it open, and what they found was beyond belief. Taking the lid off the opening, he was gobsmacked by all the bills lying right at the top – fifty-dollar bills in huge stacks. He literally fell over from pure shock, getting to his feet, he started pulling out wad after wad of cold hard cash. But all things were not going to be peaches and cream for Joe and his huge find.
Barely two hours into his discovery, there was a knock on the door, and soon men in uniforms were swarming all over the container. Just what had he gotten himself involved in, he wondered. It could have been anything; I mean, just who has this much cash just squashed into a safe? Joe realized that, in his exultation, he had sent photos to his girlfriend and also uploaded the photos of the contents of the safe to pretty much every social media site. No wonder the police were here.
He still hadn’t been able to count all the cash, but he knew it was enough to roll in; so far, he was up to a million dollars. He dragged himself away to talk to one of the officers waiting for him. All in all, there was 7.5 million stashed in a few safes around the containers, everything from nickels to 100 bills and pink slips for cars. There was just one gigantic problem: the original owner had gotten wind of the find and had hired some top-notch lawyers to get back his fortune. Joe was in trouble.
Everything started moving extremely quickly after the police arrived. Joe got a call from the lawyers telling him, in no uncertain terms, that he must return the money, but that he could keep six hundred thousand dollars as a finder’s fee. Joe had some quick thinking to do. After consulting with his friends, Joe learned that, in the state of California, once a unit had been sold, the contents were no longer owned by the delinquent tenant; he had full rights to keep anything in the unit. After all, he’d purchased it fair and square.
But the lawyers were not going to back down that easily, thinking that they were doing Joe a service; they upped the finder’s fee to 1.2 million, and they were playing hardball. Who knew what these people were capable of? Joe began wondering just how someone forgets 7.5 million dollars in a delinquent storage rental. Not someone good, it seemed, but how bad would things get? So would he only get 1.2 million? That’s a huge amount of money in anyone’s book, but still not quite the huge figure that he had just felt in his hands while unpacking one after one of money.
He didn’t like the fact that he was being strong-armed, but there was also the moral dilemma; it was now his money, but he didn’t do a thing to earn it. Perhaps he should give it back? The thought was not sitting well with him.
After much deliberation and amongst near threats, Joe decided that splitting the money straight down the middle would be a fair split. After all, the now-previous owners had left the container unpaid for a lot more than a couple of months – in fact, almost a year – without responding to the letters sent by the store owners. And that debt was exactly why the auction had happened.
A storage owner says, ‘I really don’t make much money out of auctions; it’s to try to cover our expenses. Ninety percent of the time, I don’t cover my losses. One unit may have cost me six hundred dollars, and the person bids at 400, so my revenue still suffered a loss. An unpaid unit does not make any money. The sooner the delinquent tenant can be moved out, the sooner a paying tenant can be moved in.’”