Unauthorized excavations and CDE (Collection-driven exploitation) thefts at historic and prehistoric sites are becoming a growing problem in Finland (Nighthawkers hitting more archaeological sites Uutiset News 13.8.2014 ). There are estimated to be 2,000 - 5,000 amateur users of metal detectors in the country. For the most part hobbyists stick to parks and beaches, with bottle caps and small coins making up the bulk of their finds.
Over the past six years, Finland's National Board of Antiquities has dealt with about 30 cases of illegal digging and the theft of artefacts from prehistoric and historic sites. So far this year, the Board of Antiquities has dealt with four serious cases. Many more, it is thought go unnoticed or unreported. The growing availability of powerful, but inexpensive metal detectors has boosted the hobby of detecting and of treasure hunting. [...] There has been a lot of talk among hobbyists that these nighthawkers are not local and speculation that the come in from, for example, the Baltic countries," explains Lindgren.Information on the location of archaeological sites is openly available online in a registry maintained by National Board of Antiquities. The official line is that this information should be openly available as everyone has the right to all aspects of cultural heritage, but this information is being abused by those who want to target 'productive sites'.
Archaeologists and metal detecting hobbyists have come across objects put up for sale at online auction sites that they suspect have been illegally dug up from protected sites. By law, any discovery dating back more than 100 years must be reported to the National Board of Antiquities which has first right of purchase. The Board has limited resources for examining and purchasing finds. Its budget this year to purchase artefacts brought in by the public is a mere 5,000 euros. There is a danger of growing numbers of treasure hunters who decide to bypass official channels, and the law, and seek black market buyers in hopes of making big money off their finds.