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Backyard Surprise: Missing Safe, Stolen In 2011, Found In Neighbor's Yard

Photograph by benjgibbs / Flickr
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Photograph by benjgibbs / Flickr

It's safe to say this yard work really hit pay dirt (sorry). While embarking on a landscaping project, a Todt Hill family found a safe buried in their yard. It belonged to their neighbors—who were robbed the day after Christmas in 2011. The family who discovered the safe said, "I thought we found buried treasure."

Deer had "destroyed the first four feet of Matthew Emanuel's arborvitae trees," according to the Staten Island Advance, and after the heavy snow, he decided to replace them with "deer-resistant" bamboo. Landscapers then found a metal box, which turned out to have a dial.

Emanuel said he started rolling the safe to see if anything was inside, but it didn't make any noise.

When [landscaper Bob] Foley and his team finished the work, they offered to help open the safe using a pickaxe.

They found several zippered bags inside, Emanuel said.

He said the bags contained a trove of jewelry and "hundred dollar bills that were in really bad, muddy, ugly shape."

Emanuel was a little more descriptive on TV, "[T]here are all these bags with hundreds and jewelry, diamonds, engagement rings, dozens of rings, gold with jade. It was stunning," he said to WCBS 2.

Amongst the $52,000 of cash and jewelry was an address that the Emanuels connected to their neighbors—who were shocked at the finding. The wife was shaking, the Emanuels said, and Maria Colonna-Emanuel added that the police told them, "You'll never see your stuff again."

Apparently the family who had been robbed believed they were victims of the infamous Staten Island Ninja. As for the Emanuels' yard, they have marked the "lucky" spot with a ceramic elephant.

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