Treasure hunters have risked jail time if they have pilfered artifacts on state lands. A loophole in state law meant that looters normally did not face consequences for theft on Lake County Water Authority lands, but that protection will soon be over. Legislators recently approved a bill that makes it a crime to pilfer historic finds on water-authority lands . Mike Perry, Lake County Water Authority executive director states, “It finally gives us the ability to prosecute people who come onto public lands to archaeologically loot. It gives all our properties the same protection state lands enjoy.” Recently, a man was arrested for plucking arrowheads from the Silver Glen Springs area in the Ocala National Forest.
Alot of people do deep undercover when searching for artifacts. Officials estimate that over$2 million of artifacts were seized in “Operation Timucua” where many items were sold online and at trade shows. Some of the pieces priced as much as $100,000. Major Curtis Brown, who heads the agency’s investigations section states, “This is not the situation of a family going out hiking and finding an artifact they want to take home. These subjects intentionally destroyed lands and rivers for their own personal gain.” In my opinion, I do think these bills are a great idea because artifacts have very important meanings to various cultures.
People never know if something they are holding has great symbolic value to a specific culture. One of the areas that I studied most in college was Anthropology, which allowed me to gain a better understanding of what kinds of items are sacred to many cultures and how those items play into their way of life. Many artifacts are important to their religious ideology as well. Mary Glowacki, head of the state Division of Historical Resources’ Bureau of Archaeological Research states, “Hunters often go deep into rural, remote areas near bodies of water to look for historical treasures. Ancient tribes set up camp near fresh water, which was great for agriculture. It is a big problem because we do not have the resources to monitor all the sites and if it is an ancient site, there are nonrenewable resources there.” Senator Alan Hays believes that the similiar bill passed last year was too broad and ignited concern among others who use metal detectors at the beach or other places.