May 15 (UPI) -- A New York man having some landscaping done in his backyard discovered a buried safe filled with valuables that were stolen seven years ago.
Matthew Emanuel said he hired Bob Foley and his New Jersey landscaping company, Touch the Earth Inc., to replace some damaged trees in his Staten Island backyard with deer-resistant bamboo. While they were digging, the workers came across a large metal box.
"I thought it had something to do with electricity or something," Emanuel told the Staten Island Advance.
He soon discovered, however, that the box had a dial on one side -- it was a safe.
The landscapers opened the weather-beaten safe with a pickax, revealing it was loaded with valuables.
"There it was, all these bags, zip bags with cash, gold, diamonds, it was incredible," Emanuel told WABC-TV.
Emanuel said he and his wife found $16,300 in salvageable cash, while many other large bills had been damaged by water getting into the safe.
He said a slip of paper inside the safe indicated it belonged to a neighbor he knew in passing, so he visited their home Monday to tell them about the buried treasure.
The couple told Emanuel the safe had been taken during a burglary in December 2011 and they had given up hope of ever seeing their belongings again.
Emanuel and his wife decided to place a ceramic elephant in the spot where they found the safe, to mark it as a lucky location.