Best Way to Find Keys Lost in Grass?
June 14, 2019 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Lost the keys to my entire life (work, hobby, house, storage unit, car), on a green keychain, in the grass. Any tricks for finding them?

This morning, I was walking my dogs in a park, when somehow, they were suddenly no longer attached to the leash, and were running away. After sprinting to successfully retrieve them and reattach the leash, we continued our walk for a couple of minutes. Then I put my hand in the pocket of my hoodie and ... no more keys.

I'd been letting them do the leading on our walk, so our path was indirect to say the least. I've retraced, as best I can recall, the entire route we took three times. It's about a mile in total. I've walked and re-walked the sprint path more times than that.

There's no clear lost and found at the park, but I've checked with both places it could be multiple times.

I know for a fact the keys were in my pocket, because a kind of sketchy guy drove up as we were getting out of the car, and I beeped the lock again just in case.

The keys are on this keychain with my car key attached. The grass was mowed relatively recently, so it's not terribly tall. I'm considering going back this evening with a flashlight to see if they reflect when it's not so sunny out?

Any and all ideas considered!
posted by pixiecrinkle to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
can you rent (or borrow) a metal detector locally? My dad found a lost ring in a field in about 30 seconds with a borrowed metal detector.

Also though - check neighborhood next door/facebook groups. People post all the time that they found stuff like keys in those groups in my area.
posted by brainmouse at 1:21 PM on June 14, 2019 [16 favorites]

If it's a real strong flashlight, it might work in the day. For one thing, it helps you focus your attention, and it'll still maybe glint off the metal. You might also retrace your path plus a margin to each side, shuffling your feet in the grass.

(Then go buy a Tile and put it on your keychain.)
posted by Lyn Never at 1:30 PM on June 14, 2019 [8 favorites]

I rented a metal detector...
posted by kbbbo at 1:37 PM on June 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

A rake might help? At least along the sprint path. Metal if you have access to one, so it'll clink.
posted by teremala at 1:38 PM on June 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

Flashlight and/or a magnetic power pick from the hardware store. They are under $20 and so helpful. You just drag it around where you have walked.
posted by MountainDaisy at 1:42 PM on June 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

If there's no clear lost and found, you may need to assume that someone did find the keys, but did something more creative with them. Think about what you might do if you found someone else's keys and had lots/little time to return them.

Turn them in to local Law Enforcement.
Turn them in to the agency that performs maintenance at this park (or other nearby parks).
Hang them up on a gate/fence/sign near (one of) the entrance(s) to the park.
Hang them on a tree/bench/fence/sign near where they were found.
Take them to a place that's indicated by one of the keys on the ring (Post office, if you have a PO Box key, etc.)
Already noted: Take them home and post on Facebook/NextDoor groups.
posted by yuwtze at 1:47 PM on June 14, 2019 [8 favorites]

If your dogs have good noses, they might be able to help you out. I'd take them back to the park and lead them kind of back to where they ran off. Maybe the thing that excited them is still there, and they'll lead you back in that exciting direction. Preferably in a calmer, non-getting-loose manner this time.
posted by Gray Duck at 1:50 PM on June 14, 2019

The thing that excited them was another dog. Which is generally a problem for one of them, so that's why I took them off the case. :)
posted by pixiecrinkle at 1:54 PM on June 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

Flashlight - but at night
posted by Verba Volant at 1:54 PM on June 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've found hearing aids at the park -- it's hard to do.
What might work....
Several people, with heavy magnets on strings (fishing pole-style), dragging them about an area. Flashlights can help if held close to the ground. Trying a search in afternoon lighting.
Check for returned keys, as yuwtze pointed out. You can also put your own flyer up, in case someone has already pocketed them. Have the finder deposit the keys with the local police department.

By the way... was there anything else in your pocket? Something you might have grabbed instinctively which led to the keys dislodging? Check that location again. Where did you reattach the leads for your dogs? Bending, moving... check there again.
Good luck!
posted by TrishaU at 2:11 PM on June 14, 2019

Your local hardware or home improvement store might sell a magnet on a stick, which can be super handy for finding such things.
posted by straw at 2:44 PM on June 14, 2019

Put up posters along the route and send an email to your neighborhood listserv or NextDoor if possible - I had people leave a set of random keys by my door when they were found in the street nearby and I had no clue what to do with them! I put them back out on the stone wall along our building and someone picked them up.
posted by sallybrown at 3:06 PM on June 14, 2019

This same thing happened to me. Honestly I just had to go look for them :/ I found them eventually

If it's been a long time, posters and/or posting on NextDoor and city subreddits
posted by christiehawk at 4:42 PM on June 14, 2019

If you go at night you may want to lower the flashlight, either with a pole or put it on some kind of wheel so it is even. Probably have it a foot or so off the ground, pointing forward. Or better yet, have a few flashlights at different angles.

They also make magnet rollers that roofers use to collect any nails that have fallen. You might be able to rent one from a home improvement store or buy a cheap one.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 5:39 PM on June 14, 2019

I think having multiple eyes on this is important. What if you were to organize a “key hunt” tomorrow in the park with the reward being $20? Get a whole swarm of kids to show up and they’ll find it if it’s there. If no one finds the keys then perhaps each would get a small consolation prize.
posted by oxisos at 10:01 PM on June 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

Not a popular idea: use a backpack style leaf blower. You should be able to cover a lot of ground quickly and the movement of the grass should reveal the keys.

Be aware that people hate leaf blowers for their noise and for their generation of pollution.

Hope you find the keys soon.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:41 AM on June 15, 2019

You say this happened in "a park." On the off- chance it's a dog park, I'd pass on the leaf blower. You'd be creating airborne poop clouds.

I think the suggestion of a roofer's nail-pick-up roller is good. Lowe's rents some equipment; you'd have to call them to learn if a nail roller is available. Be sure you wash it off before returning it to wherever you got it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:06 AM on June 15, 2019

This $40 metal detector is good enough for finding keys.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:59 AM on June 15, 2019

There may be some useful advice in this thread, in which I lost (and found) my wedding ring.
posted by Mid at 1:09 PM on June 15, 2019

THANK YOU all for your suggestions. I put many of them into practice during my six hours of looking at the park on Friday.

It ends up yuwtze had it, but I was a victim of missed timing. Someone found them, put them on a curb, and then maintenance picked them up before I got back to the park, so I missed them. But they just called me and told me I should play the lottery, and I'm about to go pick them up!
posted by pixiecrinkle at 6:42 AM on June 17, 2019 [8 favorites]

You don't need a metal detector next time. Buy a magnet on a stick, used for picking up nails and such. Much cheaper at a hardware store.
posted by agregoli at 9:22 AM on June 17, 2019

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