Man Finds $52,000 of Treasure in Own Backyard

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Staten Island resident Matthew Emanuel opened what he thought was an old cable box and instead found thousands of dollars of ill-gotten booty.

Emanuel just wanted the damaged arborvitae trees in his yard replaced with bamboo. But submerged in the dirt, the remains of what he had always assumed was an old cable box were revealed to be a buried safe. Prying it open with a pickaxe, and what was found was a little more than defunct wiring.

The safe contained zippered bags filled with various jewelry and “the most fragile dollars you could ever imagine, and almost all of them were hundreds.” Those bills totaled $16,300. All told, the contents of the safe were worth $52,000.

“I thought we found buried treasure,” Emanuel said.

Along with the items contained in the safe was a Brooklyn address that Emanuel was able to trace to one of his neighbors. When he asked the neighbor whether they had been robbed, they were “shaking and hugging me,” Emanuel recalled. In fact, they had been robbed — on the day after Christmas, in 2011.

Now Emanuel and his wife have placed a ceramic elephant in the space from which the box was excavated. “We bought this elephant and said ‘let’s keep it there,'” his wife said. “It’s a good luck spot.”

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