Recycling Center’s Jewelry Recovery Story Has a Familiar Ring to It

For the second time in two months, workers at the Town of Babylon Recycling Center on Long Island have defied all odds by turning up treasured diamond rings among tons of stinky garbage.

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West Babylon resident Vicky Salzone had accidentally tossed three diamond bands into a trash bag while sorting through old Christmas decorations. By the next morning, she and her husband of 34 years, Joe, realized the irreplaceable rings were gone and that they were probably on the way to the sanitation burn plant.

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“When I heard the garbage trucks outside I had this feeling that I should stop them because something is wrong,” Joe told Newsday. “I called the town and said, ‘I think my wife’s rings are in the garbage.’”

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His Friday the 13th request was referred to the Town of Babylon Recycling Center, where managers Ed Wiggins and John Bonavita were ready to duplicate the success they had only two months earlier when a similar request came in.

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The garbage truck was diverted to the center, where the load was set to be dumped. Joe also headed out to join in the search.

“I said, ‘You know, what’s the odds of us really doing this two times in a row?’” Wiggins told CBS2.

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According to Wiggins, there’s a science to determining exactly where in a truck load a particular garbage bag is likely to be. The bags collected at the beginning of the route end up toward the front of the truck, while the bags picked up last will be in the back.

Using that logic, Wiggins and his team knew the bag had to be about three-quarters into the truck. Vicky was also certain that they were looking for a white stretch bag, with a diamond-patterned surface and black tie.

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By 8 a.m., the search was on, and within a half hour, the recycling team had found the bag and secured the rings.

In a scene captured with a cell phone, Bonita tells Vicky the good news…

“You found the rings?” Vicky screams.

“I found the rings,” answers Bonita. “Yes, I got all three of them.”

“Friday the 13th is my lucky day now,” says Vicky.

Wiggins and Bonavita are getting so good at finding valuables amid tons of rotting trash that their co-workers have dubbed each of them “Lord of the Rings.”

Wiggins complimented Joe for his willingness to wade into piles of garbage in search of his wife’s wedding bands.

“He wanted the rings that were blessed at his wedding,” Wiggins told Newsday. “I gotta give the guy credit, he jumped right in there.”

In mid-November, the team found the wedding rings of North Babylon resident Colleen Dyckman. That search took four hours.

Wiggins told Newsday that during his 40 years in the sanitation business, he’s been called on to find precious jewelry a dozen or so times. Before this November, he’s met with success only twice. Now’s he’s found the treasure two times in a row, only two months apart.

To show their gratitude, the Salzones provided the sanitation crew with a catered lunch, and offered a heartfelt review.

“They’re good people at the town,” Joe told Newsday. “They do dirty work, but they are just absolutely wonderful.”

Credits: Screen captures via newyorkcbslocal.com.

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