Stealing recyclables could become crime in Raleigh
Posted February 27, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — City leaders are thinking about making stealing recyclables a crime in Raleigh.
Thieves are targeting clusters of recycling bins outside restaurants and bars in downtown Raleigh and taking aluminum cans. The cans can prove profitable, if many are taken. One pound of aluminum, about 32 cans, can earn a person 55 cents.
For every ton of recyclables the city hauls to its processing site, it makes $30. Last fiscal year, Raleigh residents and businesses recycled 23,000 tons of material. That equated to about $690,000 that was placed into the general fund and likely used to pay for recycling operation costs, officials said.
Mark Turner said he saw a blue pickup truck cruising through his neighborhood on recycling day recently. He said a guy got out of the vehicle and started taking cans from his neighbor's bin.
"He had this big 30-gallon trash can in the back of his truck, and he was going through the neighborhood filling it up," Turner said.
A few hours later, Turner saw another truck with another man doing the same thing. So, he contacted the city’s Solid Waste Services Department.
Solid Waste Services Director Fred Battle said his office gets complaints about the problem just about every week.
“We need something in place to deter people from going through recycling, taking materials, because it’s taking away from city revenue," Battle said.
Battle brought his concerns to the city attorney, which prompted a draft ordinance making recyclable rummaging a misdemeanor.
The Raleigh City Council is expected to vote on the proposal on March 6. If passed, offenders would face up to a $500 fine.
"I really hope this doesn't lead to calling cops every time they see somebody going through (recyclables). I'm hoping organized teams that appear to be going through recycling will think twice about it now," Turner said.