On June 15th, Tom Caldie received a call from a homeowner in Appleton, Wisconsin, who had been burglarized. The alleged thief was spotted running out the back door with a laundry bag over his shoulder. He burst through a hedge, scurried down a retaining wall, and darted downhill through a neighbor’s heavily wooded lot to the Fox River. 911 was called and the police arrived shortly to find a man attempting escape by swimming across the river. He refused to come to shore, and a police boat was launched to apprehend him. No trace of the loot was evident because he had stashed it with the hope of recovering it later, and he would not reveal its location.
That night, two young men from the neighborhood found bracelets and necklaces in shallow water along the shore by shining lights into the river, but not much was recovered. A few days later, the homeowner found Tom Caldie’s Ringfinder information through a Google search and called him. She couldn’t believe such a service existed, especially in water. Tom packed his wet suit, Garrett AT Pro, and Titanic water scoop and arrived at the site within an hour. He followed the burglar’s track precisely, detecting under plants and brush, and found a few pieces of jewelry on the hillside leading down to the water. Once in the river, he discovered a trail leading downstream of pearl necklaces and bracelets, and some silver turquoise pieces. They were mixed with weeds, between rocks, and in the muddy river bottom. A Then, a sudden tornado-like squall arrived with lightning, heavy rain, and high winds, and the search was cut short.
The next day, the river was only four inches higher because of the storm, and the water, which is normally a root beer color, was muddy, so Tom brought a compost rake to move debris. Resuming his sweep, he followed the trail of dropped pieces to a loud signal submerged three feet under the surface and tangled under a large fallen willow tree. Reaching in with the rake, he found laundry! The third pair of shorts had two gold chains on it, so he knew he was close. Then, the rake pulled out a large purse with an assortment of necklaces and earrings in it, and some appeared to be gold. A few more tries and the laundry bag was recovered as well, with watches, necklaces, and more clothes mixed in. (Later, the police estimated the theft at $40,000.)
After cleaning up more loose pieces off the river bottom, Tom brought the two bags to the homeowner, who was ecstatic to recover her platinum engagement band, wedding band, and ten-year anniversary rings! She was quite happy to retrieve the other items as well, but those three rings brought tears and smiles. It would have been a shame if they would have been lost forever on the muddy river bottom.