At some point, you’ve probably dreamed of stumbling across a hidden passageway to another world or finding a long-forgotten treasure. Admittedly, there’s something fun about indulging the idea that the spaces most familiar to us might be hiding dark secrets. Still, these fantasies usually remain unrealized.
When a group of friends moved into a New Zealand home that had once been rented to members of a violent gang, they never even considered the implications. While the house itself appeared in tip-top shape, something locked away in the basement piqued more than just a little curiosity…
In March 2013, a Reddit user named dont_stop_me_smee posted an intriguing mystery to one of the site’s most heavily-trafficked forums. After moving into a New Zealand once rented by a gang, he discovered something interesting hiding behind a gate in the basement.
While nothing seemed out of the ordinary about most of the home, the basement had been fortified with bars on the window and thick steel bars. All of these protections safeguarded a vault with a heavy steel door built into the basement wall.
Close-up photos of the vault revealed the door was locked with a dial, and curiously, pieces of brown tape had been carefully arranged around it. Was the tape some kind of hint as to what the code to the vault was?
The gravity of this discovery was not lost on the Reddit community, either, and that this vault lived in what had once been a gang house only fueled the theories as to what might be inside. Drugs? Weapons? Gold bars like the vault below? The people had to know.
With community interest levels reaching critical mass, dont_stop_me_smee promised he and his friend would get the safe open and share its contents with everyone following the thread. But that wasn’t going to be an easy task…
So began their adventure! Redditors with all kinds of professional backgrounds chimed in with advice on getting the thing open. The first suggestion that caught on was made by Reddit user Tof1911…
“Please don’t take any kind of torch to it,” the user wrote. “It is a Sargent and Green Leaf Dial 6630 I believe,” which meant he’d have to crack the combo using a special stethoscope. The gears on that type of vault were extremely complex.
Alex Blate / YouTube
Despite this Reddit user’s professional experience with safes, however, the original poster of the vault continued to welcome advice from other readers. Another user who repaired forge machinery for a living suggested that “the easiest [thing] to do would be to carbon-arc it.”
This, too, proved a problematic suggestion for the renters though. “I was hoping to avoid destroying anything,” dont_stop_me_smee wrote, “the landlord will go mental.” Nevertheless, the poster made a promise to have the safe opened by New Year’s Day.
Still, Redditor appetites had been whetted. They were hungry to see what was inside that safe and grew frustrated as months passed without meaningful progress or updates. But then, on December 23, there was a new development…
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The original poster dont_stop_me_smee had moved out of the house without ever opening the safe. But the new tenant, another Redditor named mantisnzl, discovered the safe himself—and he was a man of action.
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The new tenant didn’t waste time with stethoscopes or safe-cracking—and more importantly, he didn’t care about upsetting the landlord. He just grabbed an angle grinder and a crowbar.
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Finally, the moment of truth arrived. Redditor mantisnzl was “hoping for a dead body or some sort of mob stash” to be hiding within the locked vault. Once he cut the door open, he—along with thousands of curious Redditors—had their answer.
mantisnzl / imgur
When mantisnzl stepped inside the vault, he didn’t find the answers to a decades-old crime. He didn’t find fat stacks of cash abandoned in a hurry by a fleeing gang. He didn’t even find a single bullet casing. So what did he find?
mantisnzl / imgur
He found a single spider, hanging delicately from its web. “It was a letdown,” he wrote. “Instead it’s just… the shattered hopes and dreams of thousands of Redditors, myself included.” Was this the end of the great safe mystery?
Invested Redditors couldn’t hold back their disappointment in the final reveal. Many compared the moment to when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s secret vault on live TV, only to find nothing. Other Redditors coped in strange ways…
“I could see… that everyone’s ‘safe addiction’ was not satisfied,” wrote one user who made a few joking edits to the images of the empty safe. “Just squint your eyes and believe, just… try… to… believe.” But still, mantisnzl found value in the safe.
DeShrekingBall / imgur
Safes are meant to protect valuables, right? Well, mantisnzl put it to work doing just that. After the disappointment of finding nothing wore off, he converted the vault into storage for beer and liquor. Not a bad look for home design!
And while disappointment at the safe’s contents—or lack thereof—still dominated the Reddit thread, plenty of people felt positively about their involvement in the entire vault mystery.
As Reddit user Tredid wrote, “I don’t even care that it was empty. I’m just happy that I lived to see the day [it was finally opened].” Indeed, this community was brought together by the safe’s intrigue, and that has to be worth something, right?
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As Tredid proved, old houses can be fascinating places. Sure, as an owner they may be a struggle to maintain, but if you’re willing to put in the work, buying historical property tends to be a valuable investment.
From asbestos removal to mold, renovating a house that’s ‘been around the block’, can reveal all sorts of surprises — usually not for the better.
When a Cleveland resident finally decided to remodel his basement, he knew that there could be a lot of unexpected variables to deal with. However, that didn’t stop him from trying to make his project a reality.
The 35-year-old lived in a very old home, passed down in his family for generations. He was well into the remodeling stages when he stumbled upon something quite unusual…
While taking apart the ceiling, he realized one area did not look like the rest. Curiosity quickly got the best of him and he decided to remove the panel in question.
Hidden inside was something totally unexpected: a green suitcase. He then grabbed his camera to start documenting this unusual discovery.
Before snapping another picture, though, he decided to let his wife know what he had found — she was fascinated. They went back down to the basement together to find out exactly what was inside the mysterious luggage.
Though the suitcase wasn’t particularly heavy, it didn’t make the couple any less curious about what it could be hiding. Here, they used a toy banana toothbrush for infants to show its unique size.
The case was made almost entirely of metal and was secured with an old rope. After the man took some more photos, it was time. He cracked it open and was surprised to find a few neatly wrapped packages…
Trying to contain his excitement, he went through the contents slowly and carefully, even taking inventory of each item uncovered. The bottom of the box was lined with old newspapers. One of them went as far back as March 1951!
As for the other packages? Well… the man did his best to keep his hopes in check. He didn’t want to let the elaborate fantasies of what could be inside deter him from the excitement of the discovery itself.
Finally, he opened up the first package and with one peek, his visions actually came true! He showed what he estimated to be $1,000 worth of $20 bills to his wife who was standing by. But that wasn’t the only surprise waiting to be found…
The next package was stuffed with about $5,000 worth of $50 bills! They expected to maybe find something worth money, but not this much actual cash. Questions quickly sprouted in their minds on what they should do next.
Inside of their own home was a box full of cash just sitting in their basement. Who knew how long it had been there? The last package contained perhaps the best treasure of all…
Underneath it all was a stack of $100 bills, a gold certificate, and star notes (currency that has been misprinted) that never circulated. It was a historian’s dream and a plucky treasure hunter’s Motherlode!
The man and his wife knew they were in over their heads, so they called a lawyer right away to have the box appraised and learn about how the law could impact their find.
The man could have taken the money and claimed it as his own, but he wanted to be responsible. He realized that the money may not legally belong to him, and he didn’t want to end up on the wrong side of things.
In the meantime, this man went back to remodeling his basement, where he discovered yet another box — stuffed with about $10,000!
The couple couldn’t believe it, and the lawyer had some news that would make all of these discoveries even more exciting. It was concluded that the money — all $45,000 of it — indeed belonged to the man and his wife.
The money was an amazing godsend to the couple, who used the cash to pay for their mortgage, with the intention of buying a new one in a more rural area.
When this man started remodeling his basement he expected that it was going to cost him a small fortune, but it wound up earning him one instead!