A rather desperate Glenn phoned me at work yesterday afternoon – The jeans he was wearing when he went out to price a job had a previously undiscovered hole in the back pocket.
He parked his BMW, dropped the keys in his pocket and set to work.
His heart sank when he headed back to the car and realised his predicament.
There were a few catches to this tale; He needed the car to operate his business, The section was derelict and overgrown with waist high weeds, metallic scrap from renovations littered the site (along with domestic detritus from the previous habitation), said property was a solid 2 hour drive away – a smidge under 100miles(!) … and they were lost four weeks ago.
The one redeeming point was the fact that the keys were ‘safe’, albeit lost. They were tucked in the weeds somewhere and not going anywhere.
Mind you, neither was Glenn without them.
I managed to wrangle the next morning off work and headed south at 3am, I needed to be back at the desk at noon so made sure I was on site and ready to go at first light.
Using photos Glenn had taken of the property for his quote, I had several good known points and was able to determine his aged tracks between them.
The actual task of getting the coil close enough to the ground was impossible with the matted thatch of grass and thistles that had grown noticeably in the warm early summer weather. I would be fibbing if I said I didn’t regret taking this one on when I saw the state of the undergrowth, especially with only a few precious hours available and a revisit out of the question.
First of all, I simply walked his exact path without the detector in order to define the known route and avoid confusion with other peoples tracks and the disturbance later when vegetation had been swept around by the coil. The exact stops where he took the photos were dotted with fluorescent spray paint. These would become focus points where body position changed (turning, crouching etc). Likewise, places where he walked downhill were likely a higher probability as the material on the back pockets is more relaxed and mobile than when stretched going uphill.
I verified with Glenn by phone whether the keys were in left or right pocket. Since he walked clockwise around the property it weighted the search to that side of the tracks, slightly.
Out with the detector. I started with a fast pass along the entire route. The endless hits on old buckles, tarpaulin grommets, roofing iron offcuts, toy cars and bits of galvanised tin was soul-destroying but each target had to be verified.
Second pass was a wider sweep, nudging slightly further into the weeds either side, although it was so dense the coil wasn’t making any headway.
I switched to a much smaller coil but while it was more efficient at getting into the grass, it became quickly apparent that with the lesser footprint I wouldn’t be able to clear the area before running out of time.
Final plan was to physically break down the thistles and flatten the grass as much as I could, then use my ‘dustbin lid’ big coil with its larger detection area and greater depth capabilites.
Three hours after starting, I got a reasonable high tone, out with the pinpointer and rummaged it through the long grass.
Parting the stalks showed a key, several keys!
Not sure who was more relieved, me or Glenn when he got the photo of the now found keys.