MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man is a modern-day treasure hunter. He scours backyards, parks, and beaches for hidden goods buried years ago. His name is Bruce 'The Bruce' Ratkowski.
"I found numerous silver rings. I found one gold ring," Ratkowski said.
He's a metal detectorist, which is someone whose hobby is metal detecting. Ratkowski has been doing it for about seven years, and since the Spring of 2022, he has been invited into dozens of people's backyards to search their homes for treasure.
"It's the adventure," he said. "You never know what you’re going to find."
He does it for free. Everything he finds he allows the homeowners to keep. If they don't want it, he will keep what he wants and properly recycle the items he doesn't want. If you want him to come to your backyard, the best way to reach him is via email: email@example.com.
Oftentimes, he only finds standard coins that are worth the value of the coin itself or scrap metal. But he said the people who ask him to search their yards aren't in it for the money or the value of what might be hiding underground. It's about the novelty and the search for something buried. Simply put, it's fun.
Along with backyards, he goes to parks and beaches. He has found two iPhones in Myrtle Beach (both of which he returned to their owners), a cross necklace, lighters, army figurines, valuable coins, old kid's toys, and more.
"For me, it's the history. I don’t find stuff and sell it. I mean I’ve found some gold things, some silver items, but the fun for me is researching it after I find it," he said.
After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
What Ratkowski thinks is valuable, he puts in a display case. The standard coins he finds go into a jar at his house. At the end of the year, he and his wife count it all up and put it towards their vacation fund.
"It funds the trip down to Florida, so I can do metal detecting in the wintertime."
Ratkowski has been pretty successful with his $600 metal detector. Each time he has gone out searching for treasure, he has always found at least something buried. Sometimes it's the scrap metal, other times it's a ring.
It's all about the search. He's still looking for that big find. And if he does make a big discovery, he will likely just put it in his pocket and keep on metal detecting.