Matthew Emanuel and his wife, Maria Colonna-Emanuel, lived a quiet life for four years in Todt Hill, Staten Island, until something strange happened. However, in 2018, the first four feet of the arborvitae trees in their yard were destroyed by deer.
When the trees were shortened, the couple noticed something peeking in between on the east side of their yard. What they saw looked like a silver metal box that had been hidden all along by the long and thick trees.
Matthew and his wife assumed it was “something to do with electricity or something” or a cable or “electricity box.” In May 2018, they decided to replace the ruined trees through Bob “Bamboo Bob” Foley and his company, Touch the Earth Inc.
The couple opted to have bamboo trees installed because they had a deer-resistant nature. However, when the landscapers started removing the damaged trees and accessing the metal box, everyone realized it wasn’t what Matthew and his wife had believed!
What Treasures Did Matthew and Maria Find?
When Foley’s team exposed the metal box, they realized it had a dial. After the businessman and his team finished their work on Wooddale Avenue, they offered to force open the box with a pickaxe to see what it had inside.
Inside there were several ziplocked bags that held a trove of jewelry. They also found several muddy and misshapen hundred-dollar bills, engagement rings, diamonds, and other gems in what they now realized was a safe, with Matthew stating:
“I thought we found buried treasure.”
Foley and his team couldn’t believe what they saw, and he confessed they were “freaked out.” Maria and her husband started sifting through their findings and counted the fragile money, which was made up mostly of hundred dollar bills.
However, the couple couldn’t salvage some of the money as some were in wet clumps, but they saved $16,300! Besides all the treasure, the safe also held a Brooklyn address.
The address would prove to be the final piece that helped Matthew and Maria to solve the mystery of the abandoned safe. It led the duo to someone’s house who told them how the safe ended up in their possession.
Who Did the Safe Belong To, and How Did It Land in Matthew’s Yard?
When Matthew and Maria checked the address, they realized it belonged to one of their neighbors! Despite not knowing the people well enough except through passing, Matthew walked over and knocked on their door.
Maria revealed how some people asked them why they’d returned the safe and its items.
The first thing he asked them was if they’d ever been robbed. The neighbors confirmed being robbed in 2011 – nearly seven years before Maria and her husband found the safe – and the thieves had taken their safe with around $52,000 worth of property
When the family reported the robbery to the New York Police Department (NYPD), homeowners’ believed it was the “Ninja Burglar.” In May 2017, Robert Costanzo was convicted after being linked to the burglaries, but the office of District Attorney Michael E. McMahon couldn’t confirm if the safe were part of the man’s robberies.