For the last eight years Puerto Rico native Eliel Santos has been making a living by reeling in jewelry, cash and electronics from beneath New York City’s sidewalk grates. It may not seem like a very profitable trade, but on great days he can earn over $1,000.
38-year-old Eliel Santos lives in the Bronx, but he spends every day of the week visiting various areas of the Big Apple and using dental floss and mouse trap glue to retrieve whatever valuable items people drop through the sidewalk grates. The urban treasure hunter spends most of his time looking down through the small metal holes hoping to spot something worth pawning. Whenever something grabs his attention, Eliel positions himself over the target and pulls out his trusty tools – a line of dental floss attached to different size weights covered in mouse glue. With expert precision, he lowers his sticky lure through the grating into the darkness below and quickly catches his “prey”. Sometimes it’s just quarters or useless shiny objects, but a lot of times Santos walks away with precious jewelry, cash and even trendy gadgets like iPhones or iPods. “If you drop it, I’m going to pick it up — so be careful,” he warns the pedestrians of New York.