News Article:

Finder Brings Back Lost Fortunes

By Janet Smith, The Kitsilano News

It's a pursuit as old as the days of pirates and Spanish galleons: the search for buried treasure.

For Chris Turner, it's a lifelong hobby that he's been able to turn into a career.

"I love the hunt," he says with characteristic enthusiasm. "I could do this all day long every day. I guess you could say I'm obsessed" The dream began at 14, when Turner worked on a chicken farm to buy his first metal detector. His discoveries then were the sort of treasures that excites young boy - bottle caps, nickels and nails. But as he grew older, his metal detector started to collect dust.

Right out of high school, Turner played professional soccer for seven years for teams in San Jose, Seattle, San Diego, and Vancouver's former White Caps. It wasn't until 1984, when he suffered a career-ending knee injury at the age of 24, that he rediscovered his old pursuit. An adult now, he was pleased to find the computer age had made treasure hunting a more exciting hobby. He hasn't stopped since.

Armed with high-tech electronic devices that discriminate against those old tin caps and nails, Turner could program a search for only gold or silver. He started in city parks, demolition grounds and road construction sites. With the patience a pain-staking grid search demands, Turner began finding buried treasure. What immediately separated Turner from so many of the people roaming the beaches with metal detectors was his drive to return the valuables to their original owners. When he found a bag of antique jewelry thrown by Prospect Point, he traced it to its owner by an inscription on the back of a pocket watch. He delivered the cache to a woman in her 70s who had the jewelry stolen several years before.

"A lot of it is detective work," Turner says. "Every item has a story, and I like helping people to continue that story." Turner derived such satisfaction out of people's reactions to the returned goods, he recently decided to set up Professional Finders. Wielding four computerized metal detectors, Turner has turned his hobby into a licensed business.

When Tim Gale, a lifeguard at Third Beach, lost his wedding ring out on is flipper board at high tide, he hired Turner to come back at low tide. Using the visual display, sound signals, and sifter of the detector, turner found the gold ring in about 15 minutes.

Turner is pursuing a larger dream of finding buried treasure. With the money he makes from Professional Finders, he hopes to head to Europe, where treasure hunters have found priceless stashes of jewelry and ancient coins. "As often as people lose their jewelry here, that's happened in England, France and Spain for centuries," he says "My goal is to show people the history and beauty of thousands of years in a museum of my own some day."

In the meantime, you can reach Professional Finders at 650-2878.