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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25519
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Bank theft of a safety deposit box.

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Bank theft of a safety deposit box.
Hello Jacustomer,

You've provided the background, but please use the reply tab below to let me know what your question is with regard to this incident.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Safety deposit had been rented for a few years at Chase Bank in Monroe, CT. Approximately one month ago customer went to the bank to make a deposit to the safety deposit box and found that the box was empty of its contents. Notified the bank manager then went to the Monroe Police Dept to file a complaint. Customer went so far as to take a lie detector test given by a former, reputable FBI agent and the results were positive no deception found. The test was administered over a period of three hours. Bank manager became non-cooperative when police went to the bank to investigate. The investigation is ongoing and the FBI, who have an office in Bridgeport, CT have been appraised. We feel that we have to have as much information regarding this type of fraud as we can get. Your advice would be appreciated regarding history on this type of fraud.


The bank understands that its employees and its safety procedures are being scrutinized. They are wisely not commenting on this to anyone except, no doubt, their lawyers.

I am not sure exactly what you want to know. So I'll give you some general information. This is a theft offense, the seriousness of at least one count of which will depend upon the value of what was in the safe deposit box. There is a 5 year statute of limitations in Connecticut, meaning that, theoretically, at least, the investigation could go on for 5 years before it would be considered too old to be prosecuted.

If the contents of the box are worth less than $1,000, the charge would be a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year in jail. Anything more than that is a felony. Anything over $10,000 would be a first degree larceny, which is a Class B felony, which would have a minimum of one and a maximum of 20 years of prison.

Larceny of more than $5K but under $10K is larceny of the second degree. It would be punishable by one to 10 years of prison. Over $1K but under $5K would be a class D felony. This would have a minimum of one year and a maximum of 5.

Probation is usually not only possible but a likely plea offer on a first felony theft offense. Restitution to the victim would be part of any sentence, whether by plea or trial.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am interested in past or present cases regarding safety deposit box fraud. Has a case in the US been tried and a resolution reached. Do have any examples of how such a fraud can be cared out by an inside employee or other individual who might have access to the vault. This is for my information since this incident has been traumatic. An attorney has been retained.

Hello Jacustomer,

There is no such crime as "safety deposit fraud." This is Larceny, which comes in many forms. What the state will have to prove is the elements of a theft, and each element must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. You can see the various definitions of larceny and their elements here. (See link)

If this is an employee, this will be an embezzlement. Connecticut defines that thusly: "A person commits embezzlement when he wrongfully appropriates to himself or to another property of another in his care or custody." This would be what the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to get a conviction

However, as the investigation is not complete and the facts of the case are presently unknown, there may be other charges or other counts that could be added here. Wthout having these facts collecting other safe deposit cases would not be fruitful.

The overwhelming number of cases that come through the criminal justice system plead out, because the overwhelming number of defendants are guilty of the offense with which they are charged, or think that the state can prove it. Some cases do get to trial and larceny cases are no exception. Each trial case is different on its face, and lends itself to a different defense.

I wouldn't have the slightest idea of how to steal a safe deposit box from a bank, and I doubt that you will find a blueprint on the web outside of some Hollywood script. Your best bet for meaningful information is to stay in touch with the detective running the investigation and with the State's Attorney assigned to the case when there is one.

Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25519
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Zoey_ JD and 2 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I realize this a felony. In an article furnished by the National Information Center there is information re "Can thieves rob a safe deposit box?' It goes on to say this has happened. Perhaps you can use this article as a starting point to give me a case or cases that have been tried and the outcome or tactics that were allegedly used to gain access to a safety deposit box. This is for my information only since I'm trying to gain information on my own. An attorney has been retained when needed.


I am sorry but what you are asking me to do is not pertinent to your case, whatever you may want to think right now, and it's also well beyond the scope of what we can do on this website for you.

I will opt out if some other expert wants to assist you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I'm requested a reply that is legal public knowledge and will require research into cases that have occurred involving safety deposit box entry by an unauthorized person. I referenced an article posted on the internet by the National Fraud Information Center where they say that fraud involving a safety deposit box has happened. I don't understand why my last inquiry is not pertinent to my case. Since research to my question is public knowledge I don't understand why it would be beyond the scope of what you can do. If I had the ability to research this legal information on own, I wouldn't have paid the requested fee to have an expert answer. If this is beyond your scope, perhaps you can refer my question to another expert. I have been waiting for an acceptable reply for over an hour and must leave my computer to get to a doctor's appointment. I hope when I return I will have a reply. I don't wish to stop payment for this service.

Hi, just a quick note so you can better understand how "case law" works. Case law arises NOT when there is a trial. Rather, that trial verdict must be appealed by the Government or the defendant (which is rare) and the result of the appeal must be authorized to be published. It then may or many not become precedent. Also, you may not be aware, but official legal research to see if there were such a needle in a haystack (a safety deposit box theft that was tried and appealed by the losing party, did not resolve during appeal, was then decided on appeal, and was then authorized to be a published and precedential case law), requires a paid subscription to a formal legal publisher, such as Westlaw or LexisNexis - that subscription price alone, far exceeds the value that you chose to put on your transaction here. Otherwise, you are stuck with your internet free searches, which are not comprehensive (so you can not be sure that a lack of finding of a case on point means there is no case on point), but at times can be helpful. In addition, research takes many hours if not several days, minimally, to be thorough - which is very much outside the scope of your choice of transaction. I realize you didn't know all this, but I just wanted to let you know why it is you likely will not find a lawyer here who can afford to give up that many days in volunteer work here. That is also why we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the law as it applies to various crimes so we can explain it to our visitors - so they need not pay the hundreds to thousands of dollars it costs to research an official database of all caselaw in the jurisdication but can have it summarized in an understandable manner by us.

Also, your prior professional was entirely right in the fact that caselaw will not help you. Case law is NOT a publisher of "how is safety deposit box fraud" carried out. Generally, it is a concise narrative of the pertinent "legal" facts relating to why the law regarding trial of the crime and the defendant's rights for a fair trial (i.e. due process) were or were not followed, during the trial, and therefore the verdict should be overturned or not overturned.

However, you CAN ask an expert in the "logistics" of successful bank robberies or embezzlement - which would typically be an criminal investigator (not a lawyer) - think, CSI - those guys figure these things out, not the lawyers. For instance, you can hire a private investigator who can then use his accumulation of information of "how" these thefts take place, along with his investigation into your particular case. (Also, if you had valuables in that box, your insurance company that you likely insured them with would certainly perform an investigation.) Now, if you didn't have the items insured, and you are finding that your criminal pursuits are not panning out, one thing you can do is file a civil suit against the bank. The bank was safe-keeping your property pursuant to a contract with you, and it arguably breached theat contract. Sue it. Once you file suit, you are entitled to demand discovery. In that demand, I'd request the vidoe tape that it likely has of the various banking areas, in particular the one that covers the area containing your box. Once you see that, you can see who went in to your box and stole your property and how he did it (if that remains important to you). Not only can you win your civil case, if you get this evidence, (and get your value back, if not your property), but you can use that evidence towards a crimnal case that may now actually have enough evidence for the prosecutor to consider prosecuting someone.

Good luck,
Alexia Esq.