1The bag with a lot of green in it that is worth a lot of green
In December 2012, in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, Mack Reed was preparing to install solar panels at his residence and while opening up an underground access vault for an inspector, he made a discovery that would make Cheech and Chong jealous!
Reed and the inspector found an army-green bag stuffed with approximately $175,000 worth of marijuana and hash! The bag was filled with 60 jars, bags and packages of all varieties of the herb.
Realizing that whomever left the stash there could return at any time, Reed called the LAPD but was told by the operator that everyone in his district was “out on an emergency." The dispatcher then asked Reed if he could drive the bag to the station himself! As Reed, a former reporter for the LA Times said in his blog about the ordeal, he responded with, “Yeah, uhhh … I don't think driving around with 20 pounds of drugs in my car is really a good idea.” A supervisor was sent out to investigate.
When Sgt. Adrienne Legaspi arrived, Reed asked the sergeant how this could have happened. Legaspi asked if he ever made any posts on Facebook when leaves town. Reed, realizing his error, responded that he “might have posted a photo from the Grand Canyon over the Thanksgiving weekend."
Legaspi suggested that Reed remove the hatch doors completely, and show the bag's owner that his secret has been found out, but he came up with a different approach.
Fearing his kids or gardener would fall into the vault, he instead left a note. It read: “We found it and called the LAPD. They confiscated it and now are watching the place. Sorry.”
2A Ferrari found buried for years in a backyard
In 1978, two kids from Los Angeles decided to pass the time by digging in their own back yard. To their utter amazement they found a Dino 246 GTS Ferrari!
With the help of local police officers and a small crew of men, the car was excavated.
After a bit of investigating, it was discovered that the car was stolen four years earlier and buried in the yard by the thieves. (It was originally bought by Rosendo Cruz of Alhambra, CA in 1974.) Miraculously, nobody who lived in the area at the time reported seeing anything strange. The then-current residents also claimed no part in being involved with the engulfed auto.
After removing the car from the yard, the Ferrari, estimated at $18,000 ($75,000 in today's money), was returned to the insurance company that had covered Cruz's loss (and paid him $22,500) and subsequently put on auction. It was rumored a mechanic bought the car and moved without a forwarding address. Regardless, the car slipped once again into obscurity.
That is, until a L.A. journalist ran a story about the missing Ferrari. The story caught the attention of a man named Brad Howard, the car's current owner. He bought the Dino in 1978 from a local businessman who bought it from the insurance company.
Why was the car buried in the first place? It is believed to have been an insurance scam. The thieves were to allegedly destroy the vehicle but loved it so much, they buried it and intended to retrieve it from the ground at a later date.
Howard is still the proud owner of the metallic green Ferrari which sports a license plate that reads “Dug up.”
3The couple who found $10 million in coins on their property
We've all read stories about finding buried treasures of gold since we were children. For a couple in Sierra Nevada, this fairy tale of sorts actually came true!
An unidentified couple were walking their dog on their property one day in 2013 when they saw the top of a rusty canister poking out of the ground. The canister contained a bunch of gold discs and they took it home.
After brushing the dirt off of the discs, they were almost perfectly preserved $20 gold coins dating from the 1890s.
They hurried back to the location of their find and discovered a total of of eight cans containing 1,427 coins with a face value of $27,980.
The discovery was a coin collector's dream: A total of 1,373 were $20 coins, 50 were $10 coins and four were $5 coins. The coins were minted from 1847 to 1894. About a third of the coins were in pristine condition and never circulated in the general public.
It is believed this is the biggest hoard of gold coins ever unearthed in the United States and is valued at $10 million.
The couple decided to remain anonymous, fearing treasure hunters would rip up their land.
Coin dealer Don Kagin and numismatist David McCarthy helped evaluate and restore the coins (dubbed the Saddle Ridge Hoard) for auction. McCarthy claimed he worked until his fingers literally bled restoring and appraising the coins for sale. Kagin will sell them on Amazon.com in the near future.
Just how the hoard got buried there remains a mystery. In March 2014, The U.S. Mint stated that "[they] do not have any information linking the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility."
4A bomb shelter found fully stocked and intact
Chris and Colleen Otcasek bought a house in Woodland Hills, California in 2013 and were aware there was a special feature included in the backyard – a fallout shelter from the 1960s.
The couple figured the shelter was just a hole in the ground, but the hole turned out to be a time capsule! Built in 1961 during the height of the Cold War by nuclear engineer Alvin Kaufman, the shelter was perfectly preserved.
The shelter supplies were still completely intact and included aluminum foil, tissues, sleeping pills, cans of “multi-purpose” food and eroding cans of coffee.
There was also plenty of reading material in the shelter to ward off boredom – in case the Kaufmans were in the shelter for an extended period of time.
On second thought, maybe the hole in the backyard isn't a shelter but a wormhole to the past! Okay, maybe I'm the one who should lay off of the science fiction books…
5Man died unexpectedly after finding "cursed money"
In August 2011, Wayne Sabaj was an unemployed resident of Johnsburg, Illinois who lived with his father. Sabaj was picking broccoli in his backyard garden when he found $150,000 stashed in a nylon bag.
Worried that the money came from a robbery and that he would be charged, Sabaj turned the money over to police with the understanding that if the money wasn't claimed by anyone else by the end of 2012, it would be his to keep.
Both an 87-year-old neighbor, Dolores Johnson, and a Naperville liquor store owner stepped up and attempted to claim in the money. Johnson, who suffered from dementia and died the following January claimed "she had gotten rid of the money because it was cursed,” according to court records.
A judge ultimately gave Johnson's daughter the bulk of the money with a portion of it set to go to Sabaj as a reward. However, Sabaj, the man who once said that he “spent his last $10 on cigarettes,” died 10 days before receiving the prize. Wayne Sabaj's father, Kevin, received the money, but not before he went into cardiac arrest upon learning about his son's death.
“Cursed money” indeed.
6The 1,000-pound fossil dug up in a backyard
Back in 1978, Gary Johnson was a junior at Rolling Hills High School in Rancho Palos Verdes, California with a keen interest in archaeology. Around that time, he noticed a large rock sticking out of the ground with a bone pattern in it. With the help of friends, he rolled the 1,000-pound rock (using logs) about 200 yards into his family's backyard.
After chipping away shale and dirt, Johnson called in an expert to get an opinion of his find. The expert deemed the fossil not very significant and the rock sat in the backyard for over 35 years.
In February, 2014, Johnson was watching the news and saw a piece about a 600-pound, 12-million-year-old sperm whale skull found at Chadwick School, which was just a few hundred yards away from where he found his fossil many years ago. Johnson called Howell Thomas, a senior paleontological preparator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
It pays to get a second opinion, folks! Johnson estimated the fossil to be 14-16 million years old. The fossil includes the jawbone and skull of a baleen whale and is one of only 20 known specimens of fossilized baleen in the world. “It is a very rare fossil and something that we actually go out looking for,” said Thomas.
With the help the Sheriff's Department, an all-volunteer team strapped the fossil to a steel trolley, and hauled the trolley with cables and pulleys from the backyard ravine, where the whale fossil spent the past three decades. It is now at the Natural History Museum where it is currently undergoing further study.
7A homeowner found 1000-year-old Native American remains in his yard
Earlier in 2014, a Salt Lake City homeowner was trying to dig a pond in his backyard for a landscaping project when he made a gruesome discovery – bones. Although the bones seemed to be human, the homeowner wasn't entirely sure what they were and called the local police department.
Police sent the the bones to the state medical examiner where they ran further tests.
Results concluded that the bones were not of a recent murder, but once belonged to a Native American who lived in Utah about 1,000 years ago.
State officials are contacting American Indian tribes to determine heritage. The state Division of Indian Affairs will then perform further testing and eventually a sacred re-interment.
8The man who discovered a treasure-trove of over 200 650-year-old jewels in his backyard
In 2007, a man known only as Andreas K. from the Austrian city of Wiener Neustadt, was digging in his backyard to expand his small pond. While digging, the lucky man hit not only dirt, but he hit paydirt!
He found a treasure trove that consisted of more than 200 rings, brooches, ornate belt buckles, gold-plated silver plates and other pieces or fragments, many encrusted with pearls, fossilized coral and other ornaments.
Although he While he made the find in 2007, Andreas K. didn't report it to the memorials office until he rediscovered the dirty objects in a basement box while packing up after selling his house in 2009.
The objects are said to be about 650 years old and had so much dirt encrusted in them that their forms were barely visible.
It wasn't until after he posted pictures of his find on the internet that collectors alerted the gentleman of the potential value of his discovery. Andreas K. then put the treasures in a plastic bag and delivered them to the Bundesdenkmalamt (the Austrian Federal Monument Agency (BDA)).
The BDA called the find a “fairy tale” and added that it was a “sensational find." Mr. K had no interest in cashing in on the treasure trove but was more interested in loaning his collection to an Austrian museum.
9The World War II bombs found buried in a Florida neighborhood
Out with the old, in with the new. New developments are constantly being built everywhere, but perhaps the developers who built these homes in this particular area in Orlando, Florida should have done their homework a little better.
Thousands of homes have been built over a 12,000-acre area that was once a World War II bombing range. However, there are still souvenirs of the past that have been discovered in the area – live bombs.
The first bomb was discovered in 1998 near the running track of a local middle school. Since then, 126 rockets and bombs have been found on school property. Although no students have been hurt on the school grounds, two workers have been burned by the fragment of a bomb while doing repairs on the track.
It's not only the place that bombs have been found – several have been found in backyards in nearby housing developments. Even though the Army Corps of Engineering have launched a $10 million cleanup of the area, there's always the possibility of finding a bomb left behind.
Home values have plummeted in the area and multiple lawsuits have been filed, accusing builders of gross negligence and seeking unspecified monetary damages.
10Lois Lane found in a suburban backyard
Superman, where were you when we needed you? In 1996, 47-year-old actress Margot Kidder who played Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeve series of the Superman films of the 1970s/80s was found in the backyard of a Glendale, California home after having gone missing for four days.
According to the police, the actress appeared "frightened and paranoid" and was in "obvious mental distress."
Kidder was found crouching and wearing soiled clothing. She was missing her front teeth and had cut her hair. She claimed that she was assaulted and was being followed.
Kidder was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but happily has been getting the help she needs and is enjoying a renewed relationship with her daughter.