Kids fantasize about going on grand adventures and making exciting discoveries like the characters in their favorite fairy tales. Yet as we get older, we start to believe that those things don’t happen in real life.
In the spring of 2018, however, a couple from New York made an incredible discovery that showed them that the things of fairy tales can and do happen to ordinary people…
About 4 years ago, a couple from Staten Island, New York decided to buy a new house in the Todt Hill neighborhood of Staten Island. After finding the perfect house for their family, the new homeowners moved in and got settled in.
The Electrical Box
While sitting on the couch one afternoon shortly after moving in, the family noticed something for the first time as they looked out of the windows of the family room and into the backyard. Behind some bushes and trees, was what looked like an old electrical box…
Not Worth The Effort
Because the electrical box was on the outskirts of their property and because it could hardly be seen from the house through all the vegetation in the backyard, the family never went out to inspect it closer or dig it up to throw it out.
Bare And Uncovered
Over the years, the couple forgot about the rusting electrical box since it was almost always covered by either snow or plants. However, in the spring of 2018, the harsh winter storms and hungry deer had left the yard bare, which exposed the metal box for the first time in years…
Calling In Some Help
The homeowners, Matthew Emanuel and his wife Maria, decided to finally give the backyard some much-needed attention in the spring of 2018. To get some more privacy, Matthew and Maria decided they wanted to plant some bamboo on the side of their yard and called Robert Foley to help.
The Landscaping Project
Robert Foley, a horticulturist who specializes in exotic plants and goes by the name ‘Bamboo Bob’, agreed to help the couple create a private backyard oasis for the family. On April 28, Bob came over to the property to start planning the project…
The Planning Stage
While walking around the property, Bob couldn’t help but stop at the metal box, which was about 2 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep, and asked Matthew what it was. “He said, ‘I don’t know,’ ’’ Bob explained. “I said, ‘How long have you lived here?’”
Digging Up The Truth
Matthew explained they moved in just a few years before and that they never paid it much attention as they thought it was an old electrical box. However, when Bob and his workers got a closer look, they told Matthew and Maria that it definitely wasn’t an electrical box…
Unburying The Safe
Since the box was partly submerged in the earth, Bob and his team started digging it up. Once it was out of the ground, the team flipped the box over and saw a dial on the other side. The ‘electrical box’ was actually a locked safe.
Prying It Open
Bob and his workers hauled the massive safe, which weighed somewhere between 80-100 pounds, 20 feet over to Matthew’s back deck and left it there as they got back to work. Later that day, Matthew and the workers managed to pry the safe open with a pick…
An Unbelievable Discovery
When Matthew, a financial adviser for Bernard Herold & Co., looked inside, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “The first thing we saw was stacks of hundreds, about three inches thick, wet and stuck together,’’ Bob said.
Decades Of Discoveries
“You never know what’s under the ground. Every job, I’ve got to know what’s going on,” said Bob, who has worked for decades as a landscaper in backyards, gardens, and zoos all around New Jersey and New York…
“It was just a rusty box behind some trees,” Matthew said. “I have seen it the whole time. I have been throwing mulch on it.’’ Matthew started sorting through the contents of the old safe and found a treasure of gold, cash, and fine jewelry like diamond rings and earrings.
“It was mind-boggling,’’ Matthew said. “There was so much gold I was using my kitchen scale. It probably weighed a pound or more.’’ Since the safe had been on their property, Matthew planned on keeping the incredible buried treasure and didn’t call the police…
Exposed To The Elements
Since the safe had been left outside for years, some water had gotten inside and many of the bills were now wet and stuck together. Over the next few days, Matthew and Maria carefully separated the cash, laid it out, and let it dry.
A Childhood Dream Come True
Once the money dried, Matthew counted the $100 and $50 bills, which amounted to about $16,000. In addition to the money, the rest of the safe’s contents were worth about $52,000. “I thought, ‘We found buried treasure!’ ” Matthew said. “We were freaked out. It’s something you can’t make up…”
However, as Matthew was sorting through all the cash, gold, and bags full of precious gems and jewelry, Matthew discovered an address on 1 of the items. After searching the address, Matthew recognized the home, which belonged to an elderly couple, since he routinely walked his dog passed the house.
An Odd Question
On April 30, Matthew went over to his neighbor’s home and knocked on the door. “I have a strange question for you. Have you ever been robbed,” Matthew asked his neighbors. The couple said they had and explained that in 2011 a safe with $52,000 worth of their belongings had been stolen from them…
Returning The Treasure
The couple reported the robbery to the police, but they were told that they would likely never see their things ever again. “Well, I think I have your stuff,’’ Matthew told them. “Why don’t you come over to my house and I will show it to you?’’ When they saw all of their money and valuables, which they were forced to accept was gone forever, they were both visibly shaken. “She was like shaking and hugging me,” Matthew said.
Doing The Right Thing
“It is like a childhood dream that you find treasure. I knew it was quite a find,” Matthew said about the experience. “A couple of people asked us, ‘Why did you return it?’ It wasn’t even a question. It wasn’t ours… I knew whose it was. When I did not know Saturday night, I had all intentions of keeping it. But once Sunday came and I found out whose it was, I knew it was somebody else’s. I couldn’t walk past their house and live with myself knowing I had their stuff.’’