TRACK RAIN: Use CBS 6 Interactive Radar

Fort Lee bans metal detectors to stop relic hunters

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

FORT LEE, Va. (WTVR) Fort Lee has put a ban in place to stop people from looting relics on the base.

A war on our history grinds on. Illegal digging can be dirty business, with relic hunters selling pieces of the past to pawn shops and other collectors.

Amy Wood, an Archeologist at Ft. Lee, says protecting the past is her priority.

"If the relic and soil is removed then essentially they've taken that history and run with it. They don't understand they're losing more than they're gaining by doing this."

Fort Lee is now banning all metal detecting on base because it is a site rich in history, stretching back eons.

At a secret site on the base archeologist Bryce Stanley and his research team documenting the American collective history. The team of three is studying a site before construction can begin on a new building.

Stanley says, "Nobody will ever know what's been lost. Everybody loses. We lose our identity as Americans."

The ban not only preserves our past it also shields the relic hunter from severe injury or death. Illegal digging on federal property carries a hefty fine and possible jail time. Bryce says looting history is akin to ripping chapters out of a book.

Stanley says, "Don't go out and dig just to go digging. Think about what you're destroying.”

Stanley’s fellow archeologist Amy Wood says, "If you're not following the policy. I guarantee there will be consequences."

The relics found by hunters may be small, but archeologists say the tiny piece is monumental in telling the entire story of who we are.

Illegal digging is a serious offense.

In March, John Santo from Petersburg, was sentenced to a year in federal prison and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines for relic hunting and digging up thousands of artifacts at Petersburg National Battlefield.