Man tracks down owner of missing badge 21 years after it fell into lake

Posted at 5:16 AM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 05:16:25-04

YORK TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A dedicated treasure hunter used Facebook to reunite a former Pennsylvania corrections officer with the badge and wallet he lost more than 20 years ago in a York County lake.

Dennis Benkert hunts for valuable metal as a hobby. In the past, he has found military ID tags, graduation rings, even teeth.

Benkert recently noticed an ongoing construction project at Lake Redman and “took the advantage of going down there while the water was low.” Using a metal detector, he discovered the wallet with the badge pinned to it buried in two inches of mud.

Through Facebook, a friend was able to track down the owner of the wallet, Shawn Eakins, 49.

Eakins’ son, Reddit user biggrizzae, posted photos of the rusting badge and wrote that his father was “super bummed” when he lost it because the wallet contained his badge as a York County Prison Correctional Officer.

Benkert also realized he had his own connection to Eakins.

“I did call my brother up to try to find out if he knew who he was, and he said, ‘Yeah I worked with Shawn.’ He said, ‘What’s his badge number?’ I said 320 – my brother’s was 310. So they did work together,” Benkert said.

Eakins believes he lost the wallet while paddle-boating with his wife.

“Maybe an hour or so after we left the lake, I realized I lost it, and I figured it fell into the lake somewhere,” Eakins said.

His old credit cards, social security card, even an old Hollywood Video Store card were still in the wallet. But the piece Eakins missed the most was the badge itself.

“I was upset, because I was a fairly new correctional officer,” Eakins said. “So it had my badge, my wallet, and that’s the thing that meant the most to me in it.”

Now, 21 years later, his life has definitely changed, Eakins said.

“At the time, my son was three years old; he’s now 24 years old. I didn’t have my daughter, Addison, and she’s now 14 years old. My wife and I just celebrated our 24th anniversary,” Eakins said.

Benkert said it’s moments like this that keep him hunting for treasure.

“It’s fulfilling to me to make somebody else happy,” he said.