Kyle Maurer of Edgerton wasn’t wearing his wedding ring on his anniversary. He lost it while playing sand volleyball at the Red Zone, 403 W. High St. He lunged for the ball and the ring went flying.
With the help of his teammates and others, he searched for the ring. A player from another team went home to get his metal detector to use during the search, but they couldn’t find the ring.
The owners of the Red Zone said they wouldn’t rake the sand pit until they had to (before the next league started). A couple of days later, Maurer went back to the Red Zone to look again for his ring.
“I dug trenches and sifted sand for what seemed like hours,” said Maurer, who even had his 2 year old help.
While Kyle looked for the ring, his wife, Emily, looked online for a metal detector, and found Dan Roekle of Middleton (www.lostandfoundring.com). Roekle specializes in metal detecting services and lost ring and jewelry recovery, and has been finding rings for about 3 years. Often he is assisted by his children, Carter, age 12, and Kylie, age 9.
Initially when Emily called, Dan suggested the Maurers try a ring finder closer to Milton. But that person was unavailable and the volleyball court needed to be raked, so Dan drove from Middleton to Milton after work.
He arrived at about 10:30 p.m. and asked Kyle how he lost his ring.
Although Emily already told him how it had happened, Dan said, “Husbands and wives see things a little differently sometimes.”
As Kyle shared his story, Dan dropped a ring similar to Kyle’s into the sand and calibrated his metal detector.
Dan began sweeping the court with his metal detector. After about 5 minutes, he heard a soft ping and stopped. He asked Kyle to bring over a smaller metal detector and a sifter. Kyle scooped up a pocket of sand where the wand was vibrating and found his ring at the bottom.
It was Dan’s 23rd ring find. He and his children have since found 25 rings.
Dan and his children were inspired while on vacation in Florida and seeing retirees combing the beaches with metal detectors for coins, jewelry and other lost items.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to do something with my kids outdoors,” he said. “That’s how we started metal detecting.”
After they found The RingFinders online (www.The RingFinders.com), they listed their services there.
“Ring finding is probably 90 percent of what we do now,” Dan said.
Wedding rings are more than just a piece of jewelry, he said.
“When someone wears a ring every day, it’s like a part of them,” he said. “It has memories.”
Sand volleyball courts usually yield easy finds. They have little trash compared to backyards, Dan said.
“You wouldn’t believe the amount of construction debris that’s in the ground (behind houses), so we do a lot more digging in backyards,” he said.
The next easiest are probably water finds, he said.
Knowing that an item was lost in a specific area is key to a successful find. Kyle felt his ring fly off and knew he lost it on the volleyball court.
A search is made more difficult when someone who has played sand volleyball, for example, doesn’t realize he has lost a ring until he gets home after making several stops and doesn’t know where he actually lost it.
Many searches like the search for Kyle’s ring take less than 5 minutes. Others, like a ring lost 5 years ago in Devils Lake takes longer, maybe 6 hours. Sometimes, they’ll do a second chance search.
More than half the time people who call Dan for help have already tried to find the lost item they’re looking for using a metal detector. Dan cautions against buying an entry-level metal detector. Rarely are people successful and often people are discouraged.
Dan uses most of the reward money from finds to invest in equipment. His main tool is a mid-grade metal detector. Initially they searched only on land. Today they also do water searches (up to 8 feet of water). In fact, probably about half of our searches today are in water.
In addition to searching for rings, the Roekles search for keys, cell phones and other metal items.
“Many people when they lose something give up hope,” Dan said. “For us to find what they’re looking for and see that joy and gratitude is just cool. That’s why we do it.”
To anyone who lost something, Dan encourages, “don’t give up.”
“If you lost something on land and no one picked it up, it’s still there.”