SANATOGA PA – Thar’s gold in them thar black plastic bags. And refuse cans. And recycling bins too. In Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township, some folks’ trash truly is becoming what others treasure.
Someone, so far unidentified, seems to be stealing garbage from the curbs of local homes, Acting Police Chief Michael Foltz acknowledged Monday (Feb. 6, 2012). No, it’s not a big problem, Foltz said, at least not yet. But it is bothersome enough that police patrols assigned to night shift duty are being asked to stay alert and try to, um, bag the perpetrators.
Recyclers are paying higher prices to buy scrap metal, Foltz told the township Board of Commissioners, and that drives these nuisance thefts. Bandits apparently swipe the bags, sift through the rubbish for anything salvageable or usable (think identity theft, too), then toss the remains in any nearby dumpster.
Which is how former commissioner and East High Street resident Tom Troutman learned he had been a victim.
A dumpster owner who pays private contractors to haul his garbage away found Troutman’s name on magazines within his trash, and called him to demand an explanation. Troutman was at first embarrassed, then angered, and then humored, he told commissioners. “It sounds silly, and it’s almost laughable,” Troutman conceded, “but it’s also frustrating.”
The problem is worse, Commissioner Stephen Klotz noted, when bad guys go mining through bins containing materials to be recycled. They’re taking money out of the recycler’s pockets, Klotz said, “and besides that the neighborhood ends up looking like the trash men were there at midnight.”
And there, Foltz drew a legal distinction: trash at the curb is discarded and therefore might be considered publicly available, he said; recyclables are not. Even so, if the trash thieves are caught there are offenses aplenty with which they can be charged and, like a wad of used chewing gum, police probably can make them stick.
Foltz’s bigger worry, he said, is the potential for identity theft. It happens to millions of Americans each year, and can result in severe financial distress and months of angst as victims try to sort out how and where someone else fraudulently used their identity information.
The solution to that problem is simple, Foltz added: shred all documents containing personally valuable information before disposing of them. Then there’s one less thing for trash thieves to profit from, he said.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 6 meeting):
- Talk About Really Dirty Crime: Township Trash Thefts
- Settlement May Be Near In Rupert Road Bridge Lawsuit
Photo from Google Images