Stamp collecting, birding, scrapbooking, baking. For many people, these leisure activities are considered hobbies. For Steve Auletta, he prefers metal detecting. The 69-year-old Massapequa resident has been using his metal detector to recover lost treasures for people across Long Island. It is something he finds truly enjoyable, especially when he returns an item that was thought to be lost forever.
“I’ve been metal detecting for 10 years and it’s a lot of fun,” said Auletta, who has found military items such as cannon balls, musket balls, bayonets, buttons and of course, wedding rings. “One day, I found a wedding ring and my daughter-in-law helped me find out who owned it. She found a group called The Ring Finders, which I joined about 8 years ago.”
Since that time, Auletta has found numerous jewelry for people, especially wedding bands and diamond rings. Ring Finders is all over the world, but not many people know about it. Auletta mainly works locally on Long Island but has traveled to the Hamptons and Brooklyn as well. He charges a small travel fee to go to the site and will usually spend four or more hours looking for the lost item. Auletta works on a rewards basis and if he finds the item, he will accept a thank you from the customer if they are comfortable giving him something, which is money he uses to upgrade his equipment.
“I have the latest equipment; three metal detectors and equipment for water and dry land. It’s something I love doing,” said Auletta, adding that both of his brothers also partake in the hobby. “I’ve been doing it for quite a while and it’s a hobby, not a full-time job. The emotional part of it…it’s amazing when it’s found.”
Auletta said that he gets calls year round, but especially in the fall and summer. In the fall, people lose their items when raking leaves and doing yardwork, and it’s easy to lose anything at the beach or while picnicking at the lake.
“I remember this one lady who lost a necklace from her daughter who passed away. That’s all she had left of her and I found it at the beach and gave it back to her,” he said. “I also found a ring that an Air Force gentleman lost in a snowstorm. He was one of the guards of Kennedy. There were only six rings made and I found his in 14 inches of snow.”
Auletta’s family is very proud and supportive of his hobby, especially his granddaughter who not only understands the sentimental aspect of such personal items, but the value and good morals of returning what doesn’t belong to you.
“My granddaughter came out with me one time and I found a wedding band,” said Auletta. “Someone came up to us and said ‘you can always buy another ring’ and my granddaughter said very smartly and politely, ‘it’s not the same.’”
“I think I’m the only one on Long Island who does this, but people can go on the website and look under the directory,” he said. “I get great satisfaction when I return lost items to people, but I really just want to help because it’s enjoyable for me.”
For more information on Auletta, visit his profile page at www.theringfinders.com/Steve.Auletta/. If you or someone you know has lost an item that you think can be found, contact him directly at 516-799-1452 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.