‘The Secret’ NYC treasure hunt was a bust — but gem seeker plans to dig again using book clues

He thinks Staten Island is treasure island.

At 6 a.m. this previous Saturday, David Hager, 58, and spouse Michelle, 51, and two sons, Tyler and Ryan, 21 and 17, began digging in a small park within the forgotten borough. 

Hager, who lives in Colorado, believes he has appropriately deciphered clues pinpointing buried booty on Staten Island from Byron Preiss’s 1982 book “The Secret: A Treasure Hunt.”

“There were two things [in the book] that nobody could figure out,” Hager, a former geologist and science trainer who now owns a college-planning service, advised The Post. “We have this so dialed in. It has to be here.”

David Hager stands with sons Tyler and Ryan .All look toward the ground, holding various instruments for digging and surveying.
David Hager and sons Tyler and Ryan spent the vacation weekend digging for treasure. LP Media

In the early Eighties, Preiss supposedly buried casques and keys in plexiglass instances in 12 North American cities. He put elaborate clues within the book as to their whereabouts. Only three of the treasures — in Chicago, Cleveland and Boston — have ever been discovered. It’s extensively assumed that there’s loot someplace within the 5 boroughs, but it’s by no means been situated. Preiss died in a automobile crash on Long Island in 2005.

Hager and household travelled from Denver to spend the vacation weekend digging. They introduced battery-operated energy drills, shovels and underground cameras with them.

If Hager finds a casque and key, he may alternate the important thing with the Preiss property for a particular gemstone — a topaz in accordance to his interpretation of the clues — with an estimated worth of $2,000.

The Hagers had to do their digging within the park — the precise title and site they requested not be revealed — on the sly, since they weren’t licensed for the excavating.

When a passerby occurred by and requested what they had been up to, Michelle cagily advised him, “We’re looking for Grandpa’s time capsule.”

One set of hands holds a small monitor. A second set of hands places a probe into leaf-covered ground.
One of their instruments is a probe with a digital camera that connects to a monitor. LP Media

At numerous factors, Hager counted off steps and advised his sons the place to dig, as he himself is recovering from a shoulder damage

“Before coming here, we practiced in the backyard,” he mentioned. “We tested different tools and techniques.”

Early on, it appeared as if the household had hit one thing using the probe, which has a digital camera connected. Looking on the monitor, Hager mentioned, “It looks like the plexiglass case.”

But, alas, it turned out to be a rock.

Undaunted, the household – mother Michelle dubs her brood “Team Hager” – saved digging, protecting a slim path of roughly 30 toes.

Two pages, including a sketch of a floating angel-like figure in blue, from "The Secret: A Treasure Hunt."
“There were two things [in the book] that nobody could figure out,” Hager advised The Post of the clues. “We have this so dialed in. It has to be here.” LP Media

After 5 hours, everybody was hungry for lunch, the drill batteries had been lifeless and the underground digital camera display screen was busted. Holes appeared to be in every single place. As the Hager children took to digging with their arms, David admitted that a break was so as.

“We’re heading to the Airbnb to recharge,” he introduced.

The household returned to dig on Sunday and Monday, but they didn’t have any luck. Still, Hager isn’t deterred.

Closeup of a pair of hands holding a fragment of a brightly painted ceramin.
The final ceramic casque was present in Boston in 2019. Boston Globe by way of Getty Images
A person pinches a large peridot gem in between thumb and index finger and holds it toward the camera, their face blurred in the background.
The Boston discover was exchanged for a peridot stone. Boston Globe by way of Getty Images

“We’ll be back,” he advised The Post on Monday night, simply earlier than his return flight to Colorado.

“We just ran out of time. We’ll return with more equipment, more batteries and be ready to go again.”

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