OAKLAND -- At first, the 11-year-old girl thought the white canvas bags poking out of Lake Merritt were empty. But they were heavy, and even using all her might she couldn't budge them with her long-handled net.
Maybe there were filled with water or some scrap metal, the sixth-grader thought.
Instead, those two bags pulled from the lake Thursday contained every kid's dream: sunken treasure. About 10 pounds of it, in fact: antique jewelry, gold and silver chains, pocket and wrist watches, foreign coins, military medals, silver candlesticks and a bunch of rings strung together on a tattered shoe lace.
Police were called, and the loot was confiscated in hopes that the items could be returned to their rightful owner -- or owners.
"I think someone was trying to steal it, and someone was on their tail, and they dumped it there," the treasure finder surmised. "It's not the ideal hiding spot if you really stop to think about it."
The girl's father asked that their names not be published because the loot could be linked to a crime. The young sleuth thinks that's likely the case.
"I think (the items) belong to different people and are from different parts of the world," said the girl, a student at St. Paul's Episcopal School, a private school that does a weekly trash cleanup at the lake. "There were rings of different sizes. Coins with pictures of Christ and others with a picture of a menorah. A lot of diversity."
He spread out the items and took pictures.
"We've had some unusual things, but this is really pretty unusual," Bailey said.
The class is at the lake each Thursday as part of teacher Susan Porter's community service and cleaning project.
"A pair of shorts, a T-shirt. We found a hat. We almost have a full outfit," joked the girl who found the bags.
They've also scooped out sneakers, tennis balls, a diary, wallets, cellphones and plenty of trash from the murky water, said school spokeswoman Jane Adams.
"Our students have been cleaning the lake for 15 years," said Adams, who added, "Our mission is service, and today we are happy to be of service to the Oakland Police Department." Oakland police sent an officer to pick up the bags, but investigators haven't had a chance to review everything to determine if the items match things reported stolen.
The girl's father said he hopes police or community members will unravel the mystery and is proud of his daughter for recovering the items and possibly helping solve a crime.
"It's incredible, it's unbelievable," he said. "These are like antique, very old, very valuable, very personal items."