Middleton’s Dan Roekle always had an interest in metal detecting as a child. The thrill of finding lost treasure appealed to him, but it wasn’t until he was an adult and had kids of his own that he actually bought a metal detector. At first it was a fun hobby to enjoy with his family. It eventually became a family business.
“One day I was on Craigslist messing around and saw that somebody had lost a ring after the Ironman race,” Roekle said. “We kind of looked at each other and we’re like, ‘Man, let’s go see if we can find that.’”
Roekle and his kids found the lost ring and returned it to its owner. That’s when Roekle realized that this service could be a business. He turned his hobby into a gig as a professional ring finder. For a fee, he finds people’s lost heirlooms.
“People call me, most commonly, for lost rings because that has the most value and emotional attachment but we also get calls for prescription glasses, phones, earrings, pendants. We’ve done searches for buried coins in the backyard,” Roekle said.
When Roekle gets a call or email through his website, he surveys the area where the ring was lost. He’ll use his metal detector to flag any spot with a solid signal.
“It’s a mix between treasure hunting and CSI,” Roekle said.
Once Roekle has flagged the entire area, he starts digging holes until he finds the lost ring. It seems simple enough but a ring search requires mountains of patience. Usually the soil is filled with more trash than treasure.
“The two most popular things that we find are pull tabs on the top of a soda can and bottle caps,” Roekle said. ”That’s where the patience comes in. It’s not all glory every single time. You have to enjoy the process more than the reward.”
It’s meticulous work. A ring search can take hours with dozens of failed digs, but Roekle says a successful search is worth it. He says he’s found nearly 70 lost rings in three years. They all have a different story, but one thing in common, a man using his favorite hobby to help others recover their most cherished heirlooms.
“A lot of times people will call me in tears, you know. They don’t know what to do,” Roekle says. “To be able to go out and help and return that to them is pretty incredible.”