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Finding the cutting edge of weaponry in the courthouse bushes

Another hazy summer has begun its descent on our nation’s capital, but the heat and humidity are only two causes for concern. For me, summer also means a sudden growth in the hedges outside the D.C. Superior Court at 500 Indiana Ave. NW.

And bigger hedges mean it’s harder to pursue my hobby.

As a student in American University’s criminal-justice program, I once encountered a U.S. marshal who told our class that many people entering Superior Court tend to dump knives and other contraband into the large hedgerows outside the front doors to avoid complications at the metal detector. As a longtime collector of various objects, I was intrigued.

Between the spring of 1998 and the present, I have recovered more than 40 items. They range from normal household implements, such as wrenches and screwdrivers, to the absolutely bizarre—for example, a two-pronged serving fork.

The bushes hide many of these items from the untrained eye, but I’ve discovered that the key to finding the hidden booty is not to look for the glint of shiny metal, which often yields gum wrappers and cigarette packs, but to focus on irregular shapes. Here are a few favorites from my collection: