When you are spring gardening, rarely do you expect to find anything more than some creepy crawlers, roots, and a lot of dirt.
That’s why when Matthew Emanuel’s landscapers pulled a metal box out of the ground in his Staten Island yard, he was surprised. But what was even more surprising was the contents. The metal box was far from what they suspected.
Matthew Emanuel recently began a landscaping project in his backyard.
Emanuel and his wife, Maria Colonna-Emanuel, decided to get rid of the arborvitae trees that once grew alongside their yard in Todt Hill, Staten Island.
According to the Staten Island Advance, deer had destroyed parts of the trees, which also received damage over the course of this past winter.
Matthew wanted to replace the trees.
He hired a landscaper to replace the damaged trees with deer-resistant bamboo.
When the landscapers removed the trees they discovered an odd metal box.
“I thought it had something to do with electricity or something,” Matthew told the Staten Island Advance.
Upon closer inspection they realized the box was not just any ordinary box, it was a strongbox!
The landscapers found a metal box, which turned out to be a safe, underneath the trees.
With some help from the landscapers, Matthew cracked open the safe and inside was several bags containing an assortment of money and jewelry.
“I thought we found buried treasure,” Matthew recalled of the moment they opened the safe.
Gold, diamonds, and several thousand dollars of cash was hidden inside.
Matthew and Maria carefully took the contents out of the safe and began counting the money.
“It was the most fragile dollars you could ever imagine, and almost all of them were hundreds,” Matthew said.
Unfortunately the couple wasn’t able to save all of the money, but what they did save totaled more than $16,000.
After going through the safe, the Emanuels wanted to find its rightful owner.
While examining the bags, the Emanuels noticed an address in Brooklyn inside some of the bags. Through some research they were able to connect it to one of their neighbors.
“We realized it must have been them, so Monday morning I walked on over to their house and knocked on their door,” Matthew said. “I asked them if they’d ever been robbed.”
To his surprise his neighbor replied, yes! The day after Christmas in 2011 someone stole the family’s safe and both the family and police assumed the safe had been lost forever.