Rick Steinbruecker finds many treasures among the trash left in the Santa Clara River.
In 2006, he found $15,000 in crisp U.S. savings bonds and tracked down the rightful owner five years later.
It was his latest find, however, that kept the intrepid treasure hunter up at night.
The Canyon Country resident stumbled upon what he thought was potential mystery and intrigue this week — only to find it was just misleadingly packaged baking supplies.
This tale opens the way many fast-paced action thrillers do — an average guy walks around and stumbles upon eight packs of white powder wrapped with duct tape.
A little more than a week ago, he found the transparent bags of powder in an area off of Soledad Canyon Road where it dips under Highway 14.
He said he flagged down a busy patrol deputy with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station but was told: “I don’t have time for this.”
“So I brought it back to my place and put it in the garage,” the man said. “Then I went on the computer to see how I could test it.”
Not having any luck figuring out if 10 pounds of flour were sitting in his garage, worth about $10 — or 10 pounds of cocaine worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the man said he called over a California Highway Patrol officer who was his neighbor’s son.
“His eyes almost popped out of his head,” Steinbruecker said.
The off-duty officer and The Signal advised the junk collector-treasure hunter to notify the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station about the find.
On Friday morning, Steinbruecker walked into the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, showed a photo of the eight seized bags of powder to a deputy, who then filled out a report and dispatched a detective to Steinbruecker’s home.
The dispatched investigator seized the bags from the man, advising him that testing would take at least a day to complete.
Steinbruecker was on pins and needles, not knowing if he owned enough flour to bake a cake or enough cocaine to spark the sort of serious discord in the drug trade that usually makes for a good action movie.
It could either be a story for the Food Network or the premise of a fast-paced motion picture thriller, he believed.
Late Friday afternoon, Steinbruecker got the results of the testing done by experienced drug officers — it was definitely not drugs.
He was happy to trade the potential intrigue and mystery for a good night’s sleep.