Staten Island man discovers 'rusty metal box' with about $21,000 of cash and jewelry inside

PHOTO: A safe found in Staten Island, N.Y. was opened to reveal jewelry and money that had been stolen from neighbors.PlayCourtesy Matthew Emanuel
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A “rusty metal box” that was buried behind bushes alongside a fence in Staten Island was more than just a box. It was actually a safe, filled with approximately $21,000 worth of treasure.

Matthew Emanuel of Staten Island noticed the box behind the trees in his yard for the four years he has lived there, he told ABC News.

After deer had eaten the bottom of the trees and he decided to replace them with bamboo, the contractors asked him if he wanted help with opening up the box. When they flipped it around, they discovered a dial and realized it was a safe. Emanuel said he tried shaking the safe but didn't hear anything.

PHOTO: Two men try to open a safe found in Staten Island, N.Y. with a compact excavator, but the attempt was unsuccessful.Courtesy Matthew Emanuel
Two men try to open a safe found in Staten Island, N.Y. with a compact excavator, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

After the safe was pried open, Emanuel said inside he saw “clothy bags,” that were “filled with hundred and countless amounts of gold jewelry and diamond jewelry.”

There were also stacks of $100 bills that were stuck together and very fragile from being wet. In all, he estimates the valuables were worth $16,000, and the hundreds of dollar bills he couldn’t separate could be valued up to $5,000.

“It was unbelievable,” he told ABC. “It’s like a dream come true.”

PHOTO: A safe found in Staten Island, N.Y. was opened to reveal jewelry and money that had been stolen from neighbors.Courtesy Matthew Emanuel
A safe found in Staten Island, N.Y. was opened to reveal jewelry and money that had been stolen from neighbors.

Inside the safe was also a case that had an address on it with no name. When Emanuel and his family Googled the address, it was connected to a building in Brooklyn. Ironically enough, the owner of the building only lived a couple doors down from Emanuel in Staten Island.

When Emanuel went to see the elderly neighbors, he asked them if they had ever been robbed.

They told him a “ninja burglar” had ripped a safe out of their wall and when police responded he ran away. Emanuel told ABC News he thinks the burglar must've thrown the safe over the fence when he escaped.

PHOTO: For four years, Matthew Emanuel of Staten Island, N.Y. thought this safe was just a box attached to his fence.Courtesy Matthew Emanuel
For four years, Matthew Emanuel of Staten Island, N.Y. thought this safe was just a box attached to his fence.

“They were pretty stunned,” he said of the neighbors' reactions when he told them that he found their safe.

The elderly woman walked over to Emanuel’s house where she saw their stolen treasures, and he packed them up for her to take back home.

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