Program tracks down 12,201, awards them $11.2 million. Because millions of dollars in collected restitution funds often go unclaimed by crime victims, Minnesota created the “Unknown Victims Unit” in 2010. It tracks down crime victims to get them their money, reported KARE 11 Investigates.
State officials said that since the unit was created they have been able to locate 12,201 victims. They had been awarded $11.2 million in restitution.
KARE 11 analyzed records of Hennepin County in Minnesota and found that from 2013 through 2015 the county had collected $4,592,528 in restitution. “Of that, $554,727 went unclaimed,” said the article.
Kathleen Megears was the Minnesota victim of a stolen check case in 1999. She was awarded $750 in restitution. The record showed that $450 had been collected on her behalf, but she never received the money until notified by KARE 11.
The article reported that the Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board failed to look for the owners of the unclaimed monies.
“I had no idea the money was sitting there,” Meagers said. “They should look a little harder. When you’re a single mom every penny counts.”
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is in charge of distributing the collected restitution funds. County Attorney Mike Freeman said the real issue is that no one actually tries to find these victims after the initial attempt.
“When you’re a single mom every penny counts”
“If the question is, could we do more to find the victim? Yes, we could if we had the resources to do it,” said Freeman. However, he said his focus is on prosecuting new cases, not tracking down victims in old ones.
Minnesota expects victims to update their information with the court. Victims awarded restitution can check with the county court in which his or her case was handled to see if there has been any payment toward them, advised KARE 11.