Sewer Jewelry Pawned By Sanitation Workers In Modesto, California, Triggers Investigation

Sanitation Workers Make Thousands Selling Sewer Jewelry

A diamond in the rough, indeed.

Well -- gold, actually. $2,500 worth of it, found by three sanitation workers in the sewer lines of Modesto, Calif. The trio sold the jewelry to a pawn shop over the course of several months, leaving them "flush" with cash, ABC reports.

According to the Modesto Bee, local police aren't entirely sure what to make of the treasure, composed of bits and pieces of soiled jewelry. Nevertheless, the fact that workers never reported their finds to a superior has triggered an investigation.

"There's a law that states if you find lost property you should try to return it to the legal owners," Sgt. Ivan Valencia, of the Modesto Police Department, said to KCRA in Sacramento, Calif.

Given the jewelry's "murky" origins, however, Valencia added in a phone conversation with The Huffington Post, the jewelry's legal owners probably couldn't even be identified.

Per the Bee report, Modesto's wastewater treatment facilities handle 25 million gallons of sewage a day, piped in via 670 miles of sewer lines. In addition to identification problems from the sheer size of the system, the jewelry itself, having spent too much time sitting in sewage and other chemicals, was barely recognizable.

Recognizable or not, gold is gold, and at least one Modesto resident, Jeff Hanawalt, has no problem with the city workers cashing in on lost property.

"If I had a job like that I’d like to be able to keep what I found," said Hanawalt to Sacramento-based news outlet Fox40.

One unidentified pawn shop owner, not associated with the investigation, wasn't bothered by the idea of where the gold had been, either. "It's easy to clean," he told ABC local affiliate News10. "You just clean it up, put it in a good solution, and it's ... good as new."

According to KCRA, none of the sanitation workers will lose their jobs as a result of the investigation, and they will get to keep the money. After this, though, Modesto will likely draft a written policy for employees to follow, should this happen again.

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