Most homeowners who have even just a small plot of land will feel the urge to make changes to it over time. They hire landscapers to dig, trench, uproot, and redistribute the vegetation for a fresh new look. Sometimes in the process of doing just that, they find a surprise they never expected.

After a harsh winter storm, Staten Island resident Matthew Emanuel’s backyard was left in shambles. He hired a team of landscapers to give it a complete overhaul, but what they uncovered while working left Matthew and his family scrambling for answers.

 For as long as Matthew Emanuel could remember, he enjoyed putting extra effort into the aesthetic appeal of his property. He was proud of his home in Todt Hill, Staten Island, and although he didn’t own a huge plot of land, it was always well-maintained.

He lived in Todt Hill with his wife, Maria, and their son. For the four years they lived there, the whole family had spent countless hours decorating their small but cozy backyard, but it wasn’t until early 2018 they gave the whole thing an overhaul.

See, a harsh winter storm hit earlier in the year, and it decimated most of the vegetation in the Emanuel’s backyard. They had seen plenty of snowfall throughout the previous years, but this walloping did irreparable damage.

On top of all of it, once the snow completely melted, roaming deer ate up most of what was left. After years of ensuring their property looked immaculate, it was time to bring in a professional landscaper and give the thinned-out place a huge renovation.

Matthew did some research before he finally settled on a professional landscaper named Robert Foley, who also went by the nickname “Bamboo Bob.” He had decades of experience in the New York area.

The plan was to have Bamboo Bob place a large thicket of bamboo on one side of Matthew’s garden; the deer would avoid it, and it would offer the family privacy from their neighbors. However, not long into the process, Bamboo Bob and his crew came across a mysterious metal box.

It didn’t take long to see the strange metallic box was actually a safe. Matthew told Bamboo Bob he’d seen the top of it poking out of the grass but always assumed it was an old rusted electrical box. Bamboo Bob grabbed a hammer and cracked right into the safe.

Matthew, his family, and the whole landscaping crew were stunned when the safe broke apart. There, piled in front of them, were dozens of stacks of $100 bills and a bag full of jewelry. For four years, the treasure had been poking out of the lawn!

Unfortunately, Matthew quickly realized the safe wasn’t waterproof, and over the years, plenty of liquid found its way in and destroyed a lot of the money!

After counting all of the money in the soggy stacks, there was about $5,000 that Matthew wasn’t able to save. But, some bills dried, and those totaled a whopping $16,300 in cold hard cash! And, that didn’t even take into the account all the jewelry.

Everything wrapped up in the jewelry bag was made of pure gold. Matthew grabbed a kitchen scale and piled everything on, but as he was cataloging it, he saw a folded piece of paper at the bottom of the bag. This piqued his interest more than the gold.

Matthew unfolded the paper and was surprised to see an address scrawled on it. He assumed it was the address of the people who owned the safe. He punched it into his phone’s map, and the results completely caught him off guard. 

The address was nearby. In fact, he passed it by every day while walking the dog. He could even see it through the plants on his property. He had to find out why his neighbor’s safe had been lodged in his yard for so long.

A lot of people would have kept the money and jewelry. It had been there for four years, after all, so clearly, no one was searching for it, right? But, Matthew was honest, and two days after the safe was opened, he visited the address.

He knocked on the door and an elderly woman answered. Matthew cut right to the chase and asked, “Have you ever been robbed before?” The color drained from her face.

The old woman solemnly nodded her head and confirmed that the day after Christmas in 2011, she was robbed — of $52,000 worth of money and jewelry, to be exact!

From 2005 to 2015, Staten Island was hit with a string of serial burglaries by a man police nicknamed the “Ninja Burglar.” He robbed 160 homes in Staten Island, and many were located right there in Todt Hill — had he stolen from this woman, too?

While the specifics of the buried safe were unknown — if it was related to the Ninja Burglar or why it was in Matthew’s yard — were never uncovered, the woman confirmed the contents were hers. Matthew was elated — he told the local news the only thing he wanted out of the entire ordeal was good karma.

The Emanuel family wanted to commemorate the once-in-a-lifetime experience, so they had a ceramic elephant placed in the spot where the safe was found. It represented both the elderly woman reuniting with her items and the honesty and respect which the Emanuel family values.

Most kids dream of one day finding hidden treasures in their back yard. The thought of digging into the earth and coming across a safe full of riches is incredibly exciting! Though it is extremely rare, the Emmanuel family aren’t the only ones to have gotten so lucky.

In 1978, two kids were digging around the back yard of their Los Angeles home when one of them struck metal. It turned out to be a Ferrari Dino 246 GTS that had been stolen by an unknown suspect. The police determined it was most likely part of an insurance scam.


In Argentina, Jose Antonio Nievas found what he initially thought was a dinosaur egg, but it was actually the shell of a glyptodon, or a prehistoric armadillo that would often grow to the size of a Volkswagen Beetle!

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In 2007, a man named Andreas K. from Austria found a huge assortment of treasure on his property, including rings, buckles, and silver platters. He had them assessed by a jeweler, who determined they were 650 years old! Generous Andreas gave them all to a local museum as a gift.

CBS News

Despite the astronomical odds, Radivoje Lajic from Bosnia had six meteorites fall on or near the front porch of his home. Scientists from the University of Belgrade studied them, and they confirmed they were, in fact, actual meteorites.

Weekly World News

When a couple bought their home in California, they knew that a bomb shelter was built in the back yard during the Cold War. They assumed everything had been destroyed over the 50 years, but when they finally investigated it, they found everything in perfect condition.

Daily Mail

A resident of El Haraneya village near the legendary Giza Plateau in Egypt was digging around his back yard one afternoon when he came across a mysterious tunnel. It was a hidden passage into the largest and oldest of the Giza pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

Ancient Origins

A 14-year-old boy from Salt Lake City, Utah, named Ali Erturk found human bones in his back yard while he was digging one morning. Forensic investigators determined the bones belonged to a Native American who lived there about 1,000 years earlier!

NY Daily News

In 2012, a Los Angeles resident named Mack Reed was installing solar batteries in the roof of his home when he stumbled across a bag containing $175,000 worth of marijuana. Police figured someone trespassed into his yard when he wasn’t home and stashed the drugs.

Huffington Post

In 2013, while walking their dog in their back yard, a married couple came across several rusty buckets sticking out of their land. The buckets were full of gold coins minted from 1847 to 1894. The total value of all the coins was about $10 million.

National Geographic

In 1997, John Lambert of Ipswich, England, found a large bone while building a fence. He held onto it for about 16 years but then in 2013, he brought it to specialists who determined it was the bone of a pliosaurus— a 250 million-year-old giant sea serpent!

Daily Mail

Back in 2013, a man in the Czech Republic was installing some pipes in his back yard when his tools struck something metal. They were two huge church bells that were nearly 400 years old! The man found out they had been stolen from a church 11 years prior.


A man from Calgary, Canada, made a very disturbing discovery between his garage and his backyard fence. He found an old pillowcase, and inside it was a fully loaded machine gun and a cell phone. Police had no idea where it came from.

Two boys from Michigan, spotted an odd rock jutting out of the ground in their yard. The family called a paleontologist who authenticated the “rock” as a 13,000-year-old mastodon vertebra.

Fox News

In 2011, Wayne Sabaj was in his garden when he found a bag with $150,000 in it. It was Immediately claimed by his neighbor, who said she buried it because it was “cursed.” A court decided to split the money between, but Wayne died 10 days before his payout.

Chicago Tribune

There is a 12,000-acre plot of land in Orlando, Florida, that used to be a World War II bombing range, and hundreds of rockets and bombs have been found underneath housing developments since 1998.

Maria Lombardic

In 1996, Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in the Superman movies, was found in the back yard of a Glendale, California resident. She had been missing for three days but was alive and paranoid. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder but later made a full recovery.

Den of Geek

When California resident Gary Johnson noticed an oddly-shaped rock in his back yard. It wasn’t until 2014, however, after watching the news, Johnson realized it was actually the fossil of a rare baleen whale believed to be 14 to 16 million years old!

Creation Revolution

When a UK mom heard her son say there was a cheetah in their back yard, she chalked it up to a wild imagination. However, when she looked out her back window, sure enough, there was a six-foot-long cheetah who had just escaped from a nearby sanctuary!

Animals Time

In 2011, a man armed only with a metal detector and a shovel found a chunk of gold that weighed over eight pounds. The massive nugget sold at auction for a whopping $460,000!

San Francisco Gate

In 2013, a Czech Republic resident came across several metal objects beneath tree stumps he was excavating in his yard. He called the police, and they found dozens of grenades and several explosives from World War II resting untouched beneath the vegetation.