Imagine if your home housed a secret hidden treasure. One couple discovered jut that in their Staten Island back yard — a box containing what amounted to $52,000 worth of treasure was buried in the yard. Matthew and Maria Emanuel made the exciting discovery when the landscapers they hired were digging up the yard to have new trees planted. They found the rusted, rotting metal box, which was actually a safe, containing wads of wet $100 bills and baggies filled with jewelry, diamonds, gold, and jade underneath a statue.
Matthew told the Staten Island Advance: “I thought, ‘We found buried treasure!’ We were freaked out. It’s something you can’t make up.”
Inside of the safe they also found a note in one of the bags with an address written on it. The couple linked it to one of their neighbors, so they decided to inquire with them to see if they were the rightful owners.
Matthew explained: “We realized it must have been them, so Monday morning, I walked on over to their house and knocked on their door. I asked them if they’d ever been robbed.” They said they had property stolen years ago, with CBS reporting that the NYPD confirmed that their safe had been stolen during a 2011 burglary.
According to Matthew and Maria, the neighbors were beyond thrilled to get their valuables back, as Matthew said of the woman: “She was like shaking and hugging me.” He added, “A couple of people asked us, ‘Why did you return it?’ It wasn’t even a question. It wasn’t ours.”
According to the safe’s owners, they believe the robbery was the work of “Ninja Burglar” Robert Costanzo, who was convicted of 160 robberies on Staten Island. The Staten Island DA’s Office couldn’t say for sure if Costanzo was involved, however.
Those who weighed in with comments on social media were blown away by the couple’s honesty and their determination to find the rightful owner of the treasure, with remarks such as: “sweet that he did the research and found the owners” and “Big thanks for the very honest people who found it and never thought to keep it for themselves. I hope they get a big reward.”
Another person added: “That person did a great deed that day!! Makes me proud being born and raised on Staten Island” and another commenter remarked: “Good karma is coming your way, my friend!! Thanks for returning it.”
One commenter noted that this type of honesty isn’t all that typical and that other people would have kept the found treasure for themselves, noting: “God bless them. Honesty is so rare nowadays.”
Of course, there were those commenters who wondered why they didn’t have the same luck in finding thousands of dollars worth of loot in their yard, with one person joking: “Why can’t things like this happen to me? Only luck I get is when McDonald’s puts two ranch cups in my bag instead of one.”
Another person offered some solid advice to prevent theft, writing: “Be smart. Bolt your safes down!”