Couple find gold, diamonds and wads of cash stuffed in a rotting metal box buried in their backyard

Matthew and Maria Emanuel – from Staten Island, New York – found the rusted, rotting metal box submerged in dirt while having new trees planted.

But they were then stunned to learn the box was actually a safe with £38,000 worth of valuables inside – including wads of wet $100 bills and bags stuffed with diamonds, gold and jade.

“I thought, ‘We found buried treasure!’ ” Matthew Emanuel told the Staten Island Advance. “We were freaked out. It’s something you can’t make up.”

Also inside the safe was a Brooklyn address written on a note inside one of the bags – which the Emanuels linked to one of their neighbors.

Matthew Emanuel said: “We realised it must have been them, so Monday morning, I walked on over to their house and knocked on their door.

"I asked them if they’d ever been robbed.”

The neighbours said they had been nearly seven years ago.

The NYPD confirmed that the safe was stolen during a burglary at the neighbors’ home in 2011, according to CBS.

The owners of the safe declined to comment – but are said to be "thrilled" to have their cash returned.

“She was like shaking and hugging me,” Matthew Emanuel said of the woman.

Maria added, “A couple of people asked us, ‘Why did you return it?’ It wasn’t even a question. It wasn’t ours.”

The safe’s owners blamed the robbery on Robert Costanzo, the notorious “Ninja Burglar” who was convicted of 160 robberies on Staten Island.

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