CROFTON, B.C. -- They say it’s been a few months since the signs started appearing along a waterfront walkway in Crofton.

“There’s a sign right there,” a young boy points excitedly.

“And there’s a sign over here,” a mom says.

There’s two posted on the boardwalk, and one attached under it.

“The sign had a pirate on it,” another boy beams.

The signs have different words on them, but apparently one common author.

“There’s a pirate here somewhere,” the first boy says with a smile.

The signs are messages from somebody who says they’re a pirate. They warn people passing that if they start searching for his buried treasure, they’ll end-up walking his ship’s plank.

“I’m so excited,” one of the boys says, before running towards the beach.

The signs have encouraged the kids in Crofton to disregard the potential plank danger and start doing some actual treasure digging.

“What a wonderful idea,” a senior who walks here regularly says. “(The children) are so excited finding the little gems and jewelry.”

“It’s such an awesome thing to do,” one of the moms says, as her son picks up colourful marbles from in the sand and bright beads from behind rocks. “Especially with COVID going on, it’s an activity that everyone can do.”

While the pleasure in finding the treasure is obvious, the identity of the person behind the pirate remains a mystery.

“We don’t know who (put up the signs),” one woman says.

“From what I heard, they live in the trailer park,” another woman says, pointing to a collection of RVs across the bay.

So that’s where I start searching for clues, working the phones, and questioning potential witnesses.

“I know a pirate very well,” a senior smiles mischievously, after I ask if he knows any pirates.

“Are you the guy I’m looking for?!” I ask.

“I guess I am,” he laughs.

He has no eye-patch. No peg-leg. No parrot.

He says his name is Larry and he’s spent the past two months buying bags full of trinkets and depositing the treasure during his daily walks.

“It’s just a family thing,” Larry says, watching parents and children searching and finding the treasure together. “It’s happiness.”

After 33 years in the navy and decades as a community volunteer, Larry says being being a pirate is simply another way to serve.

“It’s just being nice to each other,” Larry says matter-of-factly. “It’s observing where you bring a little happiness.”

It’s proving to inspire others too. After weeks of plundering with her little landlubbers, one mom says they’re paying it forward.

“Now it’s our turn to give other kids treasure,” she says, adding that she’s not the only one adding to the bounty on the beach.

While others are now doing what Larry did, what Larry says he didn’t do was put up the signs.

“I don’t know who did that,” he says.

Larry — it turns out — is not the original pirate. Who was, I had no clue, until I received a last-minute phone call.

The voice on the other end of the phone (which is peppered with “aarhs” and “ahoys”) says they put up the signs. When I ask who they are, all they’ll reveal is: “This be Pirate Pete and Captain Black Jack.”

Avast ye mateys! It seems this mystery is just setting sail.