Brian Rudolph, Lost Item Recovery Specialist (Land, Water, Sand, Snow, Leaves, Houses & Vehicles) Will Find Your Lost Keepsake! Call ASAP (301) 466-8644!
While I was conducting a search and recovery operation for a gentleman who lost his wedding band in the snow in Alexandria, Virginia, I received another ring search call from a young man named Justin who lost his 10 karat yellow gold and diamond Texas A&M Aggie 2020 graduation class ring in the snow the night before. The native Texan who had recently graduated from A&M went on to share that he was having a snowball fight with some of his other A&M graduate friends who also resided in the nation’s capital. Justin said that he was absolutely certain that he had his Aggie ring on his finger when he went outside of his friend’s Washington DC residence just prior to the ice fight that would soon ensue. When I asked the recent graduate why he was so certain that the ring was on his finger upon walking out of the front door, he went on to share that he wore the ring for a little while, but then decided to put it in his jacket pocket for safekeeping. At some point, he changed his mind once again and removed the ring from its safekeeping, placing it back on his ring finger until the conclusion of the snowball fight.
During the group’s outdoor winter fun, some of Justin’s friends were spread out in the middle of the street and he was mostly standing on the sidewalk in front of the row house where he took position and manufactured all of his ice artillery. It was only after Justin had returned inside the house to warm himself up (along with the rest of his Texan friends) that he shockingly discovered that his most prized possession was no longer on his finger. Justin was terribly upset and immediately gathered up his winter coat and hat and headed back outside to search for his ring. The others followed him out, eager to help their dear friend look everywhere for the lost treasure.
From the late night evening hours until sometime early morning the following day, Justin and his friends continued their desperate attempt to recover the lost Aggie ring. They searched through snow and ice, checking everywhere in the street, around the parked vehicles, along the sidewalk and on the front lawn of the rental house, as well. None of them could believe that with so many people (I believe there were around six of them) not one of them was able to find the sentimental symbol of accomplishment that Justin worked so very hard for. Unfortunately, the gang finally called it quits, realizing that there was nothing more any of them could do at that point. They all agreed that they would have to wait until later that morning to resume the search and come up with some new ideas if they still were not able to pull the ring from the snow.
As the sun began to rise and the snow and ice started to melt, a few of the faithful returned outside once again to continue their search for the missing ring. Sadly, again, all of their efforts led to no avail. Justin was not able to join the pack because of his work schedule on the Hill, so his friend Katie reported back to him that it still had not been found. I am not sure who it was that went online to search for a metal detecting service or rental store, but upon googling for ideas, the elite international directory of metal detectorists called THE RING FINDERS popped up on the screen. Help was “almost” on its way (so to speak)! Justin immediately called me and within a short while we made plans for me to squeeze in his Washington DC search prior to me having to travel to Baltimore, Maryland for my third ring search out in the snow later that same day.
When I arrived at the search site in downtown Washington DC (following a very successful ring recovery for the other gentleman in Virginia), I noticed how the snow was still covering most of the lawns, sidewalks and in the middle and sides of the street. The asphalt was already plowed but much ice and slush build-up was still evident all over the street. I luckily found a parking space and soon met up with Justin’s friend Katie who oriented me as to where the snowball fight took place and the exact location as to where Justin was standing and gathering up snow.
The recent A&M graduate cared so deeply for Justin and was feeling really bad for him, knowing that his ring was either still out there in the snow somewhere or it had been already picked up by someone walking by in the past 10 hours or so. Katie showed me where Justin stood on the sidewalk and the exact place where he formed his snowballs, turned towards the street and then aimed and fired at his fellow Aggie friends that were spread out in the middle-of-the-road. I asked if he had ever left that position and she said that Justin did not. That was extremely helpful and encouraging information because it meant that his beloved class ring was either lost in the area where he was gathering snow or it was possible that the ring flew off at the same time that he threw one of the snowballs towards the street or down the sidewalk where his opposition stood.
Next, I was shown where the others took their positions and then lastly Katie pointed out the area of her lawn (near the property’s edge where an old stone wall was erected parallel with the sidewalk) where Justin gathered up snow to make his weapons of mass destruction. In all honesty, though I was so very hopeful that I would recover this jewel, I knew that this A&M ring (which is considered one of the most prized graduation class rings on the market (detecting specialists nickname the Aggie ring – the “Super Bowl ring” of all class rings!)) would stand out like a sore thumb if someone were to eyeball it. The 10 karat yellow gold would be quite easy to see when resting in the snow. I just hoped for the best and looked forward to giving this search my very all.
After I received all of the information that I needed to begin metal detecting, I returned to my vehicle up the street and gathered up all of the necessary equipment that was needed to conduct the search. The first area that I detected was the sidewalk that was in front of the house. I also extended my investigation down the sidewalk in the areas that were adjacent to the rental property. I was picking up quite a few signals that were random pieces of metal and reinforcement bar underneath the concrete slabs of the sidewalk, so I needed to be extremely careful and methodical with checking every square inch to make sure that I did not miss the gold ring anywhere near or on top of all of those distracting signals.
When I finished scanning all of the concrete that was off of the main street, I headed into the middle of the residential thoroughfare to see if the snowball fighters happened to miss spotting the graduation prize somewhere under some snow or slush on the asphalt street. Once again, I dealt with a lot of interference coming from random metallic objects, reinforcement bar and piping that was hidden below the concrete. Though my metal detector coil was being swung back and forth over many snow and ice molehills, I constantly had to adjust my machine to deal with the potential “masking” issues coming from all of those opposing forces.
With having just a small window of time to do this initial search because of my need to commute to Baltimore, Maryland for another search that had already been preplanned, I still made pretty sure that I didn’t miss detecting over the target that I was hunting for. Up and down that particular section of the neighborhood, I checked all of the curbs, around and under most of the cars as best as I could, and of course, under every patch of snow and slush mound that was in the middle and on the sides of the street. Still, unfortunately, there was no gold diamond class ring to be found.
The last leg of my asphalt search was to ask Katie if she could have her next door neighbor move their car just so that I could detect that space. This vehicle was located almost in front of Katie’s place, which was only feet away from where Justin had been standing on the sidewalk during the winter battle. Within minutes of my request, the neighbor’s car was moved out of the way and I quickly scanned all of that area under the ice. Disappointedly, I struck out again. That entire street parking space was innocent of hiding Justin’s Aggie ring.
It was at that point in the search that I had just enough time to swing my detector coil up on the snow covered lawn that was located approximately 4.5 feet above the sidewalk where Justin stood. To help my reader with visualizing how the property was laid out, I can describe it best by sharing this: From the sidewalk, you must walk up a few concrete steps to reach the lawn. There was a stone wall that probably went back to the 1920s that stretched across the entire front of the property and the top surface of the lawn almost met up with the top of the wall and then extended back just a short ways to the edge of the house. Therefore, when Justin was making snowballs, he reached back over the top of the stone retaining structure and bundled up each ball of white and then proceeded to fire the weapon of choice. My hope was that the piece of jewelry would be discovered on the lawn closest to the top of the wall where the grass and stone came together.
I walked up the steps and moved over to the right area of the lawn. Then, I began to swing the detector under some bushes that were planted very close to the edge of the stone wall. I carefully moved around that environment but I had to be careful to avoid some type of lighting system which was buried along the grass (located not too far from the edge of the property). In a few spots along that edge of the perimeter, I did pick up some target signals but they all appeared to be related with the wiring for that light system. When it seemed that everything was clear along that perimeter of the lawn, I scanned the rest of that side of the property to see if perhaps the ring flew backwards when Justin was perhaps doing one of his “windups” prior to the release of the snowball. There are plenty of examples of where I have ended up finding my client’s ring many feet behind where he or she was standing initially when the ring flew off. But in this case, yet again, nothing of importance was found under the snow and it was at that point that I needed to wrap things up for the meantime.
I regretfully had to tell Katie that I would need to leave for Baltimore and I promised her that I would return following the conclusion of my third search. I told her that I would tell my client that I would keep my word in returning to Washington DC to finish what I had initially started. In all honesty, there was very little left for me to search except to re-examine everything that I had previously detected over and to make certain that I didn’t miss anything. Also, there was a slight chance that when Justin threw one of the snowballs, the ring could have gone much farther than I had predicted. So therefore I would check territory beyond the the sidewalk that was on the opposite side of the street.
Katie and I both agreed that there was a good chance that someone had already picked up the Aggie ring which would explain why I didn’t find it during my search operation. We did not expect too much melting to occur by the time I would return for a second search attempt, so if the ring had not been spotted already, I did not expect it to be seen by a pedestrian or driver as they walked along the sidewalk or street. Justin’s faithful friend thanked me for my time and she also expressed her appreciation over the fact that I was not willing to give up looking for her dear friend’s very special symbol of achievement. When I got on the road, I contacted Justin to give him my update so that he was kept in the loop while he was working at his job. I could tell that the poor guy was losing hope, but he truly did appreciate my relentless attitude in promising to return for a second go around later that day.
After successfully recovering another wedding band (which was lost under snow and ice on a sidewalk) that same day, I drove from Baltimore back to the Capital Hill area to give it one more shot at recovering Justin’s ring. I was already two for three in successful searches and I wanted so badly to be able to get this one back for the young man!
I believe I arrived in Katie’s neighborhood some time around 4 PM or so. As soon as I parked my car, I removed all of the equipment that I would need to conduct this final attempt at finding the glorious A&M “Super Bowl” class ring. For this go around, I decided I would change my detector and use one that had a reduced coil size at the bottom of machine’s shaft. A coil is the round piece at the end of the machine which you use to scan the ground with. Just in case I missed the target because of larger pieces of metal “masking” this smaller piece of precious metal, I wanted to use a smaller disc so that I could create “separation” between such objects just in case that was the hang-up here with me not finding the ring on the first go around.
My first action taken in this Act Two of the search was to rescan the entire street as much as I possibly could just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. Some of the cars that were parked earlier in the day were no longer there, so I had an excellent opportunity to detect some of those questionable spots for the missing ring. After all of my efforts spent looking for the jewel out there, just like before, I still did not find the precious piece of gold anywhere on that large portion of asphalt.
I then took my machine to the opposite side of the street and searched farther away in order to cover places where Justin’s class ring could have ended up due to a mightier throw of one of his snow balls. I metal detected not only the sidewalk as I did before, but I also checked out all of the remaining patches of snow and ice that had gathered up on the neighbor’s properties just below their front steps. When nothing turned up again, I really started getting concerned that this search might turn out to be a “closure story” rather than a successful one. I had to rule out all of the territory in the street, under the cars, and all of the public territory across the street and beyond the sidewalk that was on the other side. This led me to search my third and final section, which was to return back to Katie’s lawn and carefully rescan that snow-covered piece of real estate one more time.
As I walked my equipment back over to the side of the street where Justin stood on the sidewalk and had fired off his snow artillery rounds, my imagination started to torment me with negative thoughts that perhaps some pedestrian walking by (maybe a couple of hours after Justin returned home for the rest of the night) eyeballed the handsome mass of gold that could have been missed by Justin and his group. ‘If this truly did happen, all of my travels and all of my time searching would have been completely in vain’, I told myself. Yet, I fought hard against those opposing whispers in my mind and I willed myself to stay positive and believe that all of those A&M graduates scanned the territory around them well enough that there was no chance that someone could have caught a glance of that special hunk of precious metal.
It was finally time to begin metal detecting the snow covered lawn once more. One of the most important reasons why I chose to use a different metal detector (which had the small 6 inch disk at the bottom of it) was to make sure that I didn’t end up missing the class ring around this particular section of the search site due to the metal masking element that I mentioned earlier. I wanted to have more flexibility to move with ease under the bushes and also to create separation between any one opposing piece of metal and Justin’s class ring (if it was buried in the snow up there on the lawn) somewhere in that vicinity. Upon leaving the search site earlier with no positive results, I made it my plan to recheck this particular spot with this type of coil.
As I started this last leg of my search, I chose to scan over the snow and ice at the far left corner of the wall (which would be just to the right of where one would walk up the steps to the house). Then, I slowly and methodically worked my way to my right as I faced the house and scanned from left to right above the wall on the lawn. Already I could tell that this smaller coil helped me to figure out what was part of the electrical outdoor lighting system and what was not. It was not until I started to detect around the third bush (I believe it was), that I encountered a very curious target signal that my machine indicated on its screen. When I scanned in a certain place under the little hedge, my detector monitor showed a particular number representing that unique object. However, when I moved the disc just slightly over to the right and around the bush by just a few inches, a different number altogether appeared on my machine. This immediately told me that I was working with two different pieces of metal that were extremely close to one another. The last time that I was out at the search site, my other machine did not differentiate between that one mysterious object and the second one (which was part of the lighting system).
As the intrigue within me started to build, I took out my handheld detector which is called a pinpointer and I placed it under the bush to get an idea as to where both of these pieces of metal were hiding. The first target identified happened to be part of the light structure that stuck out of the ground with a wire connected to it. At that point I was so hoping that the two signals that I had originally picked up would not be just two different pieces of hardware related to the same lighting system. Next, I moved the pinpointer over the surface of the snow just about 4 inches from the other metal objects that I had just analyzed a moment earlier. To my excitement, another separate object made of metal was detected by my pinpointer. I knew this was something different than the other pieces that I had just uncovered because when I placed the pinpointer in the space between the objects, there was no signal. This is what metal detectorists call “separation” between objects.
My heart began to race with the hope that this mysterious target that I discovered might possibly be what we all had been searching for for nearly 20 hours. With my winter glove still shielding my cold fingers, I carefully removed enough snow away until I made my way down to where the curious target was buried below. Just then, as I cleared a little bit more white stuff out-of-the-way, I began to see that all so familiar shiny gold color peeking out from below the remaining layer of ice! I couldn’t believe it! It was the Aggie ring! I caught a glimpse of the beautiful diamond in the center of that most handsome A&M graduation class ring! The 10 karat yellow gold was so brilliant and spotless in appearance that it looked as if the piece of jewelry had never been worn! There are truly not enough words to express everything that I was experiencing out there on that Washington DC sidewalk as I was looking over the stone wall and underneath the bush where the ring was discovered! Because I did not find the ring anywhere on the street, sidewalks, and on the lawn during my first search earlier that day, I really didn’t think there was much of a chance that I was going to end up finding the Aggie prize at that point. It all came down to the issue of “masking”. The metal that made up part of that lighting system ended up masking the ring so that what I was getting on the other machine that I was using were the signals that pertained to the lighting parts rather than the 10 karat gold item that I was so yearning to find!
As I stared at the ring, my face just lit up with the biggest smile and I spoke under my breath saying to myself, ‘These searches never cease to amaze me!’ That is why I never give up until I know for certain that I exhausted every chance and possibility of finding the lost item before having to throw the towel in and declare a cease-fire!
At the time that I discovered the Aggie ring, Katie was inside the house. I wanted to surprise both she and Justin together at the same time, so when the young lady came outside to “receive an update from me”, I requested that we do a FaceTime video call with Justin. That’s when I shocked the living daylights out of her and Justin right there on the front sidewalk. They were absolutely in shock and the excitement and elation experienced between the three of us at that moment was simply off the charts! It’s with these kind of reactions that illustrate why us ring finders love what we do and why we love helping people like Justin and Katie! Some of the other friends inside the house were witnesses to my incredible fake out event and they too were in a state of shock and awe! Everyone could not stop thanking me for the successful recovery operation! Justin was totally floored by the amazing news and later he admitted that he had resolved in his own mind that the ring would probably never be seen again. When we first met on the phone, we both learned that the two of us were God-fearing men and we prayed for the Lord’s favor on this search. So at the end of my reveal we all gave thanks to the Lord for His favor and wisdom that was bestowed upon me in helping Justin with this project. Once I finished with the big surprise on FaceTime, I showed everybody where I ended up finding the beloved class ring. It was pretty easy to conclude that Justin lost his ring when he was manufacturing all of his snowballs on the lawn while standing on the sidewalk. He reached over the stone wall and while he was forming the ice balls, the ring must have slipped off of his very cold and shrunk finger causing the ring to burrow itself down below the snow under that one particular bush. That large hunk of gold never left Katie’s lawn! It was there all along, covered with snow under that one particular bush. It just so happened that Justin (along with all the rest of his gang) never could spot the gold piece because of where it was hiding under all of that white! When I completed my summary with the two of them, they were pretty taken back by the whole story and the remaining friends in the house were also extremely excited for such a great ending to this very traumatic situation!
The next day I had the privilege of personally meeting Justin and all of the rest of his Aggie friends who worked on Capitol Hill with him. We rendezvoused very close to the Capital building after they all got off work and that’s when we celebrated with hugs, high fives, a prayer of thanks to the Lord and lastly a few photos taken for the memory books! All of rejoiced at the return of this very special A&M class ring that was specifically made for Justin who proudly earned that gold and diamond trophy after so many years of hard work! What a wonderful time it was out there with Justin, Katie and some of his other friends! Every time I recount this special story, I still can’t stop smiling while thinking about how amazing this search and recovery operation turned out so successful in the end! It was simply an incredible experience that I will never forget!
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