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NYC couple says they reeled in $100,000 in cash stuffed inside safe while magnet fishing: "Finders keepers"

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A New York City couple known on social media for their magnet fishing exploits in local waterways says they recently reeled in an unexpected find: a safe holding two stacks of waterlogged hundred dollar bills.

James Kane and Barbie Agostini, who have chronicled a variety of magnet fishing discoveries on their YouTube channeltold Spectrum News NY1 on Saturday that after reeling in a muddy safe from a Queens pond on Friday, they were shocked to find stacks of hundred dollar bills estimated to be worth $100,000.

"I said 'Babe, This is not possible, Holy 'some profanity' ... and we pulled it out and it was like two stacks of freaking hundreds," Kane told the station. "Big stacks."

Video showed the couple's muddy discovery — along with partially disintegrated hundred dollar bills inside.

Magnet Fisher's Haul
In these still images from video, magnet fisher James Kane displays the part of the contents of a safe he pulled out of a pond, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in the Queens borough of New York, Friday May 31, 2024.  James Kane and Barb Agostini @LetsGetMagnetic / AP

Kane, who said the couple previously found many old safes, said he assumed he'd only find empty plastic bags that typically held money — and was stunned to find actual cash inside.

Agostini said she thought Kane was joking when he announced the contents of the safe.

"Once I seen the actual dollars … and the security ribbons, I lost it," she said.

Kane said they contacted the NYPD because he thought there may be some "legalities" involved. Because the owner of the safe, which was likely stolen, could not be identified, Kane and Agostini said police allowed them to keep the saturated stash.

"I guess the finders keepers rule has worked for us," Kane said.

Unfortunately, the bills were "soaking wet" and "pretty much destroyed," Kane said.

An NYPD spokesperson said in an email to CBS News: "As a general matter, found property valued at ten dollars or more is required to be reported to, and deposited with, the police. In this instance, the value and authenticity of the alleged currency could not be determined due to the severely disintegrated condition of the property."

Kane told the Associated Press that he and Agostini plan to take their money to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington to redeem it, but he cocneded many of the bills will likely be too damaged to cash in.  

Kane told NY1 that he and Agostini started magnet fishing because they were bored during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We call it the poor man's treasure hunting," he told the station.

Kane said they've reeled in everything from World War II grenades and 19th century guns to a motorcycle and a purse holding foreign coins, pearls and gold jewels. Their YouTube channel chronicling their adventures has more than 4,000 subscribers and about 1.4 million views.

"I have seen and worked with other magnet fishers that can hit a spot for three months, and I'll come along and throw the same magnet and get and find something that they've been trying to get the entire time," he told the AP. "I personally can't explain that."  

People fishing with magnets have made other surprising discoveries in recent months. In May, a magnet fisher reeled in a human skull padlocked to an exercise dumbbell out of a New Orleans waterway.

In April, someone using a magnet to fish for metal objects in a Georgia creek pulled up a rifle as well as some lost belongings of a couple who were killed in the same area nearly a decade ago.

In March, magnet fishermen pulled an unexploded ordnance from the Charles River in Massachusetts. Just a few days before that, another one was found in the same area, CBS News Boston reported.

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