Safety deposit box anything but secure for Edmonton man searching for lost valuables

An Edmonton man is searching for answers, and his wife's treasured wedding jewelry, after his bank allowed his safety deposit box to be opened and the contents mysteriously disappeared.

Wedding jewelry, immigration papers go missing from TD Canada Trust branch

Suraj Khatiwada of Edmonton was shocked to find his safety deposit box, No. 145, empty when he went to his bank on Oct. 25. (Suraj Khatiwada)

An Edmonton man is searching for answers, and his wife's treasured wedding jewelry, after his bank allowed his safety deposit box to be opened and the contents mysteriously disappeared.

Suraj Khatiwada had stored his immigration landing papers, his wedding ring, and his wife's 22-carat-gold wedding bangles and necklace in a safety deposit box at TD Canada Trust in the Westmount neighbourhood. He said he had the box for about five years.

According to the sign-in sheet, Khatiwada last used the box two years ago. When he went to the bank on Oct. 25, he was shocked to see the key hole on the box had been drilled out.

His items were gone.

'My trust was broken'

"I put my valuables in a safety deposit box, because I had trust these documents would be more safe in that safety deposit box, even compared to my house," Khatiwada said.

"That was my trust. But everything was in vain. My trust was broken."

We're trying to figure out what happened.— Geraldine Anderson, bank spokeswoman

According to Khatiwada, the bank said its computer system showed the box was empty, a statement confirmed by TD Canada Trust.

"In this case, our system incorrectly showed the box was unassigned and we are conducting an internal review to figure out exactly what happened," said Geraldine Anderson, who works in corporate and public affairs for TD.

Bank employees don't have keys for safety deposit boxes. But they can call a locksmith to drill into a box if it needs to be opened, Anderson said. That might happen if a customer has lost the key, or if there is a court order, or if bank records show the box is unassigned.

Any contents found in those boxes are supposed to be stored securely.

It's not clear what happened to Khatiwada's belongings.

"We're trying to figure out what happened," Anderson said. "Whatever we can do, we will."

'These things are invaluable'

Khatiwada said he has always paid the safety deposit box fees. Even if the bank had reason to open the box, employees should have notified him when they did so, he said.

"They asked me the monetary value," said Khatiwada, who immigrated to Canada from Nepal. "How do you value my landing papers? How do they value my wedding rings? How do they value my wife's necklace, bangles, and other valuable things I have [from] our wedding?" 

"These things are invaluable. They cannot compensate with anything. That's why I'm saying, 'Give me my valuables.' I don't need anything else."

Anderson said she understands that the bank can't fully compensate for a sentimental loss.

"But as we conduct our review to figure out what happened, we're also simultaneously talking with him and trying to make this right and doing our part to make the situation right to the best of our ability."

Khatiwada said he has filed a report with Edmonton police.