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Couple Stumbles Across Valuable 'Treasure' On Their Staten Island Property

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Name a person who hasn't imagined finding a buried treasure.

Well, that childhood dream turned into reality for a Staten Island couple recently, CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported Monday.

But what they did after they got their hands on the treasure is the most surprising part of this story.

The Emanuels discovered a silver box in their own yard, but for years never paid it much mind. They simply thought the box at the base of some trees was nothing more than a cable box. However, when they went to replace the trees on the side of their home they learned a surprising truth.

"It was really prominent when the deer ate away all the foliage," husband Matthew said.

They decided to bring in Bamboo Bob to replace the trees, only to discover the mysterious box was actually a safe.

Staten Island safe
A Staten Island couple found a safe hidden in their yard. Inside it was a lot of money and valuables. (Photo: CBS2)

Of course when you find treasure, you have to open it. In the safe, the couple discovered thousands upon thousands of smelly, soaking wet and stuck together dollars just rotting away.

"And there are all these bags with hundreds and jewelry, diamonds, engagement rings, dozens of rings, gold with jade," Matthew said. "It was stunning."

The Emanuels made another discovery: a paper with an address which they linked to their neighbors.

"First I knocked on the door and I asked them if they were ever robbed and they said they were," Matthew said.

The NYPD says a burglary was reported at their neighbors' home in 2011. Stolen was a safe with about $52,000 worth of property.

The Emanuels decided to return it to what ended up being a very happy couple. The neighbors didn't want to go on camera but say they're both surprised and grateful.

"A couple of people asked us, 'Why did you return it?'," wife Maria Colonna-Emanuel said. "It wasn't even a question. It wasn't ours."

And now a ceramic elephant sits where the safe once stood. The Emanuels hope it serves as a reminder of their incredible discovery.

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