Jul 272011


Published by The Wave via DelmarvaNow.com

Website connects owners of lost items with free assistance

BETHANY BEACH — When John Hawken started The Lost My Stuff Group, his goal was to assist people in retrieving their most prized possessions free of charge.

The organization is made up of volunteers from all over the country who help people who have lost rings, bracelets, watches or necklaces using metal detectors.

In September, while doing some metal detecting research, Hawken saw most of the services for finding these kinds of things would cost people a lot of money. He thought people were taking advantage of those in need, charging them for travel and the cost of the recovered item, he said.

“(I know a lot of people) would do this for free because it’s fun and something we’re interested in,” he said. “The whole idea is to do this for people as just something that is good to do.”

To report a lost item, a person would fill out a form detailing what was lost, when, where it was lost and their basic contact information. The form is then forwarded to the volunteers.

John Thorson, a property owner in Bethany Beach, has only been a volunteer for a couple of months, but has been metal detecting for more than 10 years.

He said he’s wanted to start a local website to report lost items for years, but thinks Lost My Stuff is even better.

“It sends out lost item notices to all members regardless of where they are located as members travel to different areas,” Thorson said in an email. “Once a person files a lost item report … any member who is close enough to help will use the contact information provided to contact the person directly and arrange (a search).”

The more memorable items recovered are the ones that have a sentimental meaning to the owner, he said.

One of his favorite recoveries was a diamond pendant necklace. After the owner was unsuccessful in her search, she asked Thorson to help. He wasn’t immediately able to find the item, but he didn’t give up hope. He asked a sunbather laying on a towel nearby if he could search the sand under her, where he found the necklace.

“The owner was a young woman who said her mother had bought them identical necklaces to remind them of each other as the daughter was away at college,” Thorson said. “She was overwhelmed with happiness at seeing the necklace. The look on her face as she thanked me for my help was one I will treasure forever.”

Rosemary Bongiorno, who spends her summers in Ocean City, said due to the transient nature of the community, most people don’t bother searching for lost items in the sand.

“If you had people where it’s their job and (beachgoers) know they can (get them to help look), I’m sure they would use it,” she said.

While Lost My Stuff is still fairly new, the group grows daily, adding at least one or two members. That, Hawken said, means people are spreading the word.

“The whole idea that I wanted to create is if someone loses something, The Lost My Stuff website will be the place they go,” he said.

  One Response to “Army of metal detectors on the hunt”

  1. Hello —

    It’s been a bit over 6 months since this article was posted and I wanted to give you an update on the Lost My Stuff Group. We’ve grown to over 1000 members now in 12 different countries, which has enabled us to help many more people search for and find their lost stuff.

    In the past year 235 people have reported lost items to us. We have had volunteers available to search for 140 of these lost items (~60%) and 69 of them (~ 50%) were found.

    Our success rate continues to grow as we get more & more members!!!

    We have added many new features to our website including maps that show the locations of all our Volunteers and all the lost items that have been reported to us.

    We have also enhanced our email system so not only is it faster, but now members can select to receive reports of lost items from each individual country in the world they are interested in helping, or for items lost within a set number of miles (or kilometers) from their home.

    If any of your readers own a metal detector, know how to use it, and would like to help people search for their lost items for FREE, they are cordially invited to become a member of our Group!

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