A couple on New York's Staten Island were having work done in their backyard, and discovered buried treasure worth a small fortune.

Maria Colonna-Emanuel's husband Matthew said finding the treasure tucked away in a safe was like a childhood dream come true, the Daily Mail reported.

They had an issue with deer eating their trees, so they had new trees placed around the perimeter of their yard, but in the process they discovered the exciting find that they originally thought was just an cable box, according to CBS2NY.

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


They brought in a tree company, and that's when they realised there was not a tangle of wires inside... instead, they realized it was a safe filled with cash and jewels.

Contained in the safe, the couple found soggy bills totaling US$52,000 ($75,000), diamonds, rubies and more.

"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 also found something else contained inside, a piece of paper with an address.

After the couple did a bit of sleuthing, they found the address was connected to a home on their block.

So they headed over to their neighbours.

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

The NYPD confirmed the couple were robbed in 2011, with a safe with US$52,000 inside.

So, the Emanuels did the right thing. They returned everything, making their neighbours very grateful.

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

Meanwhile the couple adds, they haven't recieved a reward, but that the true reward is good karma.

Now, where the safe once stood, is a ceramic elephant in tribute to their incredible find.