By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jun 09, 2013 at 11:03 AM

We know the weather is getting warmer when suddenly there are more runners along the lakefront, umbrellas in backyards, beer-filled festivals and metal detectors waving across the ground in public spaces.

Who are these people searching for buried treasure and is it really worth their time? 

Chris Krez, who lives in West Bend, has been metal-detecting for four months.

"I have always had an interest in finding historical items. Then I saw a show on National Geographic about metal detecting and saw some interesting pieces they found," says Krez.

So far, Krez is most excited about a candlestick holder he dug up from the early 1900s.

"I found a ring, too, but I like the historical stuff the most," he says.

Mark Phillps, on the other hand, admits he is in it solely for the money. Last summer, he unearthed $300 in coins.

"I didn’t even go out (detecting metal) every day. Maybe a few times a week," he says. "It was my summer drinking money."

Phillips says he had the best luck at Bradford Beach and Atwater Beach in Shorewood. He also says parks can be lucrative, especially picnic-friendly parks.

"The more people that are drawn to a space the more likely they are to drop something," he says.

There are different types of metal-detecting hobbyists. Some are amateur, some are actual archeologists searching for historical items like old coins. And others are more interested in valuables, like money, metals and jewelry.

Metal detectors are also used for security purposes in airports, schools, office buildings and government agencies to ensure visitors are not carrying weapons.

Metal detecting is somewhat controversial. Some professional archaeologists and preservationists view metal-detecting hobbyists, sometimes referred to as "diggers," with trepidation because they fear that they’ll damage historical sites or discover artifacts that belong in museums.

The cost of metal detectors ranges greatly, from under $100 to over $1,000. Choosing the right detector, however, is key, because some are more prone to finding coins and artifacts while other less expensive models will detect everything.

It really depends on what a person wants to find and how often they plan to use the detector. The more it's used, the better chance of recouping the initial investment.

"Don't go buy a detector that is a large amount of money. Start small. You will still find coins from every year out there," Krez says.

Krez  paid about $65 for his metal detector at Hobby Lobby in West Bend and says he’s satisfied with it, for the most part.

"You do find worthless stuff, but if you buy a more expensive detector you can change the settings to ignore that stuff," he says.

Phillips says he paid $50 for a used metal detector that was originally $250 and he is very satisfied with the sensitivity of the device.

Krez targets all different locales, including drained lagoons, parks, forests, front yards and farm fields. He enjoys the act of metal detecting as much as the finds and advises anyone considering or pursuing the hobby to never get impatient and enjoy the activity itself. 

"You won't find the prizes right away," says Krez. "I love metal-detecting. Some days are long and it's easy to get disappointed. I keep a good spirit and that makes things move along a lot easier."

Krez also reminds people to always ask permission before digging because it's the respectful thing to do, but also because talking with other people can lead to cool finds.

"By interacting with people while metal-detecting, you might get leads to other places. Even if you say 'hi' to someone, they will most likely ask ‘find anything good?’ And usually the conversation will grow from there," he says.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.