In the five months since the disaster struck, people have turned in thousands of wallets found in the debris, containing $48 million in cash. More than 5,700 safes that washed ashore along Japan's tsunami-ravaged coast have also been hauled to police centers by volunteers and search and rescue crews. Inside those safes officials found $30 million in cash. One safe alone, contained the equivalent of $1 million.
The National Police Agency says nearly all the valuables found in the three hardest hit prefectures, have been returned to their owners. "In most cases, the keyholes on these safes were filled with mud," said Koetsu Saiki with the Miyagi Prefectural Police. "We had to start by cutting apart the metal doors with grinders and other tools." Determining who the safes belonged to, proved to be the easy part. Saiki says most kept bankbooks or land rights documents inside the boxes, containing their names and address. Tracking the owners down, was much more challenging.