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Michigan treasure hunter starts every day saying, 'Beach better have my money'

Ace Covey is his name and being the 'Lakeshore Janitor' is his game. When beachgoers have left for the day, Ace and his metal detector find what you lost.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Lake Michigan is a giant lost and found bin. From shipwrecks lost centuries ago to wedding rings lost last weekend, it's all out there.

That's why it's a good thing there's a guy who lives nearby who's daily passion is to go get it.

Ace Covey was attending Grand Valley State University in 2006 when he came to the realization that something in his life needed to change.

"All I did was play video games," said Covey, 34, who resides in Whitehall. "I decided I needed some adventure."

Covey began looking into the hobby of metal detecting and decided it was for him, so he purchased a detector and the rest, as they say, is treasure-hunting history.

"My first time metal detecting, I found a quarter and a beer pop top, and I've been hooked ever since," said Covey. "There's just something about going out and finding the unexpected."

He calls himself the 'Lakeshore Janitor.'

"Anything that's not supposed to be there in nature, if I find it with my detector, or see it with my eyes, I will pick it up," said Covey.

Covey's favorite lakeshore spots to detect are at Grand Haven State Park and Hoffmaster State Park. He says he often goes to those locations right before sunset and detects through the night, until sunrise the next day.

Credit: Ace Covey
While metal detecting in Lake Michigan, Ace Covey finds many treasures, including coins dating back more than a century.
Credit: Ace Covey
Over the years, Ace Covey has found several pieces of lost jewelry, including wedding rings, class rings, necklaces and bracelets.
Credit: Ace Covey
Ace Covey says that he's been able to cash in many of the lost gold and silver he's found to upgrade his equipment and buy a new computer.
Credit: Ace Covey
Unearthing old coins is one of Ace Covey's favorite finds. He's found several pennies, nickels, dimes and half dollars that were minted in the 19th century.
Credit: WZZM
Ace Covey bought a little treasure chest where he keeps many of his prize finds, including a Civil War belt buckle, dating back to the 1860s.

"I've found coins from the early 1800s, numerous gold and silver rings, necklaces and sunglasses, of course," Covey said. "I even found a Civil War belt buckle."

Covey puts on a pair of headphones, plugs them into his metal detector, then wades into the water, slowly sweeping the head of the detector back and forth along the lake bottom.

Credit: WZZM
When Ace Covey goes metal detecting in Lake Michigan, he often pulls all-nighters, going from sunset until sunrise the next morning.
Credit: WZZM
Metal detecting is not a fast-paced hobby. One has to be very patient while doing it. Ace Covey has developed the temperament and the ear for it.

"All of the targets have a different sound," said Covey. "I can tell when I've hit something big because I know how the big things sound."

In recent years, Ace's detecting work has earned him a clientele base. He's often contacted through his Facebook page, Swing4TheRing, by beachgoers who tell him where and what they lost.

So, he goes and tries to find it.

Credit: Ace Covey
Ace Covey says the only thing more exciting that finding the treasures is being able to reunite some of them with their owners.

"I like reuniting lost treasures to people," Covey said. "The look on their face when they see the wedding ring or class ring they lost, or the pair of sunglasses that got knocked off their face as that big wave hit, makes me feel like I'm doing something right."

Covey says he's turned his hobby into a side hustle. 

"I've found enough in gold rings and silver coins to actually buy new metal detecting equipment," said Covey. "There was a two week stretch once where I found enough gold rings to pay for a new MacBook laptop computer."

Covey also blogs about metal detecting and has his own YouTube Channel.

"I blog mostly to try to show that metal detecting isn't just for older, retired people," said Covey. "It's a hobby for all ages."

Covey says if you contact him to find something, his services are free, however if you feel compelled to pay, please pay him with either lunch or a cup of coffee.

"I'm just out here doing what I love," said Covey.

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