Metal detector tries to return found trophy

The World War II medal Andy Reiss found.

By Rachel Scaman

NIU employee Andy Reiss will take his metal detecting talents to a competition come November, but for now he’s looking for the owner of a World War II service medal he found in southern DeKalb County.

Reiss, who works in Building Services, was one of 100 people who were selected to go to Cold Pepper, Va., and compete in a relic hunt to see who has found the best Civil War relics. He will leave Nov. 29. In the meantime, he and his sister are searching for the owner of the medal, but have had no luck. Reiss thinks the owner of the medal was the previous owner of his sister’s house.

“The guy went through thick and thin and deserves to get it back,” Reiss said.

Reiss said he has found many coins from the 1930’s and 1940’s in his sister’s backyard as well as the medal. He has been an avid metal detector for about three years and searches for items for about 20 hours a week. He said he searches in backyards, old farms and south of highway 80.

“There’s less people and less competition in those areas,” Reiss said.

Along with the World War II medal, Reiss has found coins, caps guns, rings and bullets. Some of his findings date back to the 1800’s.

“My treasure of all my non-coin finds in my oldest dog tag,” Reiss said. “It’s my third favorite of all my findings.”

From any early age, Reiss was interested in coins.

“I figure, these things are rotting in the ground and they aren’t doing any good there,” Reiss said. “Why not restore history?”

Reiss competes with people on the Internet to see how many silver coins he can collect.

“I’m not as good as my counterparts but I’m doing pretty good,” Reiss said. “This year I’ve got 29. Last year I had 11 and the year before I had one, so I am slowly improving.”

Reiss plans to eventually have his own television show or business and do metal detecting full time. Reiss plans to call the show “Corn Diggers.”

“I’m a very long way from doing that, but I already have the name of my show picked out,” Reiss said.

Reiss estimated the worth of his collection would be about $2,000, but he doesn’t plan on selling any time soon.

“Maybe I will sell some of the coins 40 years down the road, because of course once you have a business you need to pay your overhead,” Reiss said. “But a lot of the relics I’d like people to just come in and see….”

Reiss said he tries to find the owner of everything he finds.

“That’s one of the more important things: If it belongs to somebody, get it back to the people that own it,” Reiss said.

He was once able to return a sterling silver ring to a woman. She broke into tears.

“Sure, it was just a ring that wasn’t of much value, but it was her daughter’s and she must have lost it a long time ago,” Reiss said.

Reiss said his family and friends are very supportive of his hobby. He said 99 percent of people are very open about metal detecting.

“I always have people asking questions about my coins or my finds and a lot positive stuff,” Reiss said.