UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a statement from New Bedford police spokesperson Lt. Scott Carola.

NEW BEDFORD — A Providence man sweeping a recently cleared area in the New Bedford industrial park with a metal detector over the weekend turned up something unexpected: a police badge pinned to a jacket.

Former New Bedford resident Scott Kenney said he was taking the opportunity on Sunday to sweep a newly clear-cut part of the park before construction starts.

Just as he was wrapping up at the spot, on Samuel Barnet Boulevard across from Imtra Corporation near the railroad tracks, he heard something.

"[I] was ending my day of metal detecting when I heard my detector change tones," he said. "[I] kicked the debris aside and found the jacket."

WBSM-AM/AM 1420 logo
Get our free mobile app

Kenney said he took the jacket and badge — number 231 — over to a police officer at the nearby train crossing, who told him he would return it to its rightful owner.

New Bedford police spokesperson Lt. Scott Carola confirmed that the badge is real and belonged to an officer who retired this year.

"I don't believe that he lost these items very long ago," Carola said, noting that he doesn't know how the former officer came to lose the badge at the park.

"Lost badges are returned infrequently, but it's not unheard of," he added.

A current badge with a different three-digit number can be seen in this photo of new recruit Taylor Sousa, posted to the department's Facebook page on Aug. 12:

New Bedford Police Officer Taylor Sousa, a new recruit
Courtesy New Bedford Police/Facebook

A Reddit post showing a picture of the find has sparked some discussion, with more than 100 people speculating on the age of the badge and how it got into the woods.

One commenter, called "justmrmom," said they were a former officer and noted that losing a badge can sometimes happen, especially during a pursuit or scuffle.

Meanwhile, other commenters expounded more wild theories — including that the badge and jacket may have been part of a criminal's disguise — or asking if the city is missing a police officer.

Exactly how the badge came to be there is still a mystery.

A Guide to New Bedford's Memorial Tanks and Cannons

New Bedford has a large assortment of military hardware scattered throughout the city to honor various veterans organizations. See them all listed here.

Lesser Known Museums of New Bedford

Everyone undoubtedly thinks of the New Bedford Whaling Museum when they look for an indoor day in the city. However, there are actually quite a few museums throughout New Bedford for a wide range of interests. We found a few you might not have explored yet that are definitely worth the trip.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420