‘If you lose it, I can find it’ — Meet NJ’s Ring Finder Steve
On his and his wife's one-year anniversary of tying the knot, Matthew Barry lost his wedding ring in the ocean off Atlantic City.
"It's like a needle in a haystack, or worse, it's like a ring in the ocean," Barry said.
The Connecticut resident believed he'd never see the ring again, but he decided to do an internet search and ended up connecting with a metal-detecting service run by a retired New Jersey cop.
Hours later, after a night out with his wife in AC, the couple was reunited with the ring in a nearby parking garage.
"It was high tide, it was raining," Barry said. "We didn't think there was much hope, but Steve found it."
Steve Pacifico, aka RingFinderSteve, of Haddon Heights, has countless stories with a happy ending like Barry's. His motto: "If you lose it, I will find it." And if he can't get the job done, he'll find someone who can.
"This is not necessarily a business to me. Let me come out, let me find your item first, and then I tell them, 'Give me whatever reward you want,'" Pacifico said.
He's part of a larger network of ring finders and folks interested in the hobby. He's hunted for all kinds of jewelry and other items that people would hate to lose, like smartphones and hearing aids. The beach and water aren't his only hunting grounds — folks lose valuables on the golf course, at the park, or in their own backyards.
"I always picture the stress level that someone's going through, thinking that they're never going to get this back," Pacifico said.
The key to a mission becoming a success, rather than a failure, he said, is estimated location — he needs to be brought to a spot that's as close as possible to where the item was dropped or knocked out.
"I can only find your item where you lost it. I can't find where you lost it," he said.
And he'll only call it a day, he said, when he's convinced his search was thorough enough.
"I want to make sure my detector goes over every inch of that specified area at least twice," Pacifico said. "There's been times I've gone back day two and day three and then found the item."
If you lose an item and are interested in bringing in a legitimate detectorist to find it, Pacifico advises you to avoid posting about your item on social media — this way, the whole world doesn't know there's a $10,000 ring somewhere at 19th Street.
"The main thing in doing this is an element of honesty and trust," he said. "Because a lot of times the owners of the item may not be there when we find it."
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.