Monday, October 18, 2010

Watch Out for Trash Thieves

From the Brookland listserv comes this intriguing account of a trash thief caught in the act. Although the trash-stealer quickly came up with a lofty-sounding motive, the more likely object of trash sifting is any unshredded paid bills or bank statements that can be used for identify theft.
This morning, a little past 8am, I looked outside towards the rear where the trash barrels are, and saw a man going through several stacked and tied-up trash bags that had been placed there for pickup this week. I noticed a white sports model car parked right outside the fenced-in yard, and yelled through the window at him "What are you doing?!" 
He couldn't see me from behind the semi-shuttered blinds, but turned around and said "Oh....I'm just collecting things for the homeless." I replied "Well, stop it!" Then he said "I thought I was doing a good thing," and I said "Not when you don't have permission...and you do not! I am calling 311!" At that point, he promptly left. I considered taking down his license plate number, but in the essence of time (I was already running late for the office), I just let him drive away and I didn't call 311. 
If I had called 311, what (legally) could/would I expect them to do? Anything? In any case, if you arrive home and find that your trash has been "gone through," this just may be what happened.


  1. I know people who have furnished their apartments in New York with things from the trash. When I have thrown things out, I have seen people picking through my trash and taking things they want. Many people figure that what is in the trash is there to be disposed of and open to anyone who wants it.

  2. Does it really make a difference whether they go through it on the curb or at the dump? You clearly don't want that stuff anymore if you're throwing it out, so dumpster diving seems fair game to me.

    Now, if what you're really worried about is people reading documents in there, get a shredder.