There’s a type of thievery going on in Manhattan Beach that many residents and business people may not recognize – a type of organized crime that has the potential to increase costs for all of us. It’s the theft of recyclable materials, and it’s happening every week right under our noses.
Is taking recyclables really against the law?
Yes! Removing recyclables from someone else’s container (City/public containers, residential, or commercial) is called “scavenging” and violates both the City Municipal Code (Section 5.24) and the California Public Resources Code.
Recyclable materials at your business or home belong to you. There are two choices for proper disposal: first, you may choose to take your cans and bottles to a recycling buyback center, where you are paid the California Redemption Value (CRV). Secondly, you may choose to place your recyclables in your residential or commercial recycling bin for the City’s exclusive refuse hauler, Waste Management (WM), to pickup. Once the materials are in a container only you or Waste Management have the right to remove them. This law applies to all containers: trash, recycling and green waste!
Like any criminal, scavengers target the most valuable products – in the case of recyclables, that means aluminum and glass. We are not talking about people occasionally taking a few cans here or there – we are talking about organized thieves with trucks, driving the City’s collection routes a few hours ahead of authorized crews from WM or stealing from commercial or residential bins at night. These people are stealing from Waste Management, the City, and ultimately from you.
How does this cost you money?
WM processes and sells the recyclable materials, to offset the cost of the services they provide our community. Over time, the lost revenues may result in higher rates for refuse collection.
What can we do?
The Manhattan Beach Police Department will be stepping up our efforts to catch these thieves, and we need your help!
If you see anyone other than a uniformed WM driver in a WM truck handling your containers, please don’t ignore it. Instead, call police dispatch at (310) 545-4566 to report in-progress theft of recyclables. If possible, jot down the license plate number and a brief description of the vehicle/suspect or take photos or video to share with the Police Department. For your own safety, please avoid confronting or challenging the scavenger.
If you see a thief in action, call the Police Department dispatch at (310) 545-4566.
Don’t look the other way. Theft of recyclables is illegal and together we can send a message to thieves that in our community, this act will not be tolerated!