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Author Topic: Dumpster Diving Illegal?
Priss Asagiri
The Red and the Green Stamps


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There is a US Supreme Court ruling that states that once you put your trash to the curb, it's public property.

A friend claims that since Dumpsters aren't techniclly "rolled to the curb" and are still on private property, dumpster diving is illegal.

A second friend thinks that since they threw it out, it's up for grabs. And locking Dumpsters is illegal due to the US Supreme Court Ruling.

So which one is right?

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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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I believe that the dumpster itself is private property...

The gov't has two valid reasons for prohibiting this by statute: first, people exploring other people's garbage tend to be messy, and toss their leavings around, and, second, it's dangerous for the gleaner! Imagine being down in the dumps(ter) when someone comes along and pitches in something heavy!

Silas

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Then both vanish earth's dominion, man is native to the skies.

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guruwan2b
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Imagine being down in the dumps(ter) when someone comes along and pitches in something heavy!

This actually happened to my daughter once (the pitching, not the diving!). My daughter was carrying out the trash and she wasn't tall enough to see over into the dumpster, so she just tossed the bag over. It landed on the neighborhood crazy lady (No, I'm not the NCL! [Smile] ). She was in there digging out the beer and pop cans. I believe that was her only income. She was later put in a home.

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Too much of this navel gazing and we'll disappear up our own arses.
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pob14
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Priss Asagiri:
There is a US Supreme Court ruling that states that once you put your trash to the curb, it's public property.

No, there isn't.

There is a US Supreme Court case (California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988)) ruling that trash placed outside the curtilage for collection may be searched without a warrant. Not the same thing at all.

The US Supreme Court doesn't give a flip whether you "dumpster-dive" or not. Your state or local laws might.

POB

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Patrick

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OhTheHorror
The Red and the Green Stamps


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What the court typically finds in these cases is that the party discarding the refuse has no reasonable right to an expectation of privacy. Stated differently, you laid it out in public, the public can dig right in.
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abbubmah
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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If the dumpster is on private property (as most are) it's trespassing, even before you get to the dumpster. Anything set out in the public right of way is assumed to be trash for pickup. A dumpster in an alley, for instance, would be fair game.

We had a "ragpicker" in New Orleans who was arrested for theft after picking up curb stuff - set out to dry after a flood, not intended to be trash.

He won his case.

ham "be careful where you set your good stuff" bubba

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Fundamentally Unfundie since 1975

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Priss Asagiri
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Gotta love the different interpritations of the laws...lol.
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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Shadow of a Bubba:
If the dumpster is on private property (as most are) it's trespassing, even before you get to the dumpster. Anything set out in the public right of way is assumed to be trash for pickup. A dumpster in an alley, for instance, would be fair game.

Not nescessarily. The dumpster itself is also private property. In some jurisdictions you cannot enter/lean into the dumpster to take something out, or put something in, without permission from the person who owns/leases the dumpster.

Four Kitties

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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resELution
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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You know, I ought to look up the WA state laws on that some day. Here's the dumpster rule I heard:

Dumpster diving is stealing from the county. Suposedly, if you put it in the county dupster, it becomes the counties property.

Along that line, the cops would have to get it through the county to search your trash.

I'm 80% it's bulls**t and 20% there's some truth to it.

resE"found some cool stuff in the dumpsters myself"Lution

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Vivling
Happy Holly Days


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Even if it is illegal, rationally, what good would imposing a fine on the dumpster diver accomplish?? Are they going to pay in recyclable cardboard and bottles?

lilorphan

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Climb up, over the the top
Shake it, take control
You've got to find out for yourself whether or not you're truly trying
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put it in writing
Xboxing Day


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A lot of people dumpster dive. I'm employed, and I do it from time to time. That's how I've always furnished my homes, getting tables and couches and such from the curb, and often lamps and so on from actual dumpsters. Recently I dumpstered a 4 drawer steelcase filing cabinet. A close friend dumpstered a working VCR.

But yes, you can certainly get trespassing warrents for dumpstering, and fines. Business owners get really strict about it, mostly for two reasons:
a) some dumpster divers scatter the trash as they go, and
b) if someone gets hurt on their property while dding, they can be held liable.

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and it's 1 - 2 - 3, what are we fighting for? don't ask me, I don't give a damn

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guruwan2b
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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My mother got a lot of potted plants out of the dumpster across the street from her house. The neighbors had just had a family member's funeral and didn't want the plants. Mom saved them.

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Too much of this navel gazing and we'll disappear up our own arses.
Danvers Carew

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Momanon
The Red and the Green Stamps


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When you live in a college town like mine, dumpster diving isn't looked down upon...it's the norm. At the end of every school year, dumpsters all over campus are overflowing with furniture and other goodies. Very frequently, these items are only 1 year old.
I've never heard of anyone getting in trouble for dumpster diving. Of course, very little "diving" has to be done to retrieve a futon sitting outside of the actual dumpster. I don't really do it now that I'm making a decent buck, but it can really help give you a place to sit when you're in college munching on ramen and easy-mac.

-Momanon

p.s. couches left by dumpsters never smell bad...until you've lugged them up 3 flights of stairs and into your apartment.

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by put it in writing:
A lot of people dumpster dive. I'm employed, and I do it from time to time. That's how I've always furnished my homes, getting tables and couches and such from the curb, and often lamps and so on from actual dumpsters. Recently I dumpstered a 4 drawer steelcase filing cabinet. A close friend dumpstered a working VCR.

Retrieving items from the curb is similar to, but not the same as, reaching inside a dumpster. The curb/sidewalk is public property, but a dumpster is private property. I've "curbed" quite a bit of furniture in my day, Julia Kitten's bedstead most recently.

Four Kitties

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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put it in writing
Xboxing Day


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Four Kitties: the VCR, lamps + etc, and (oddly) the filing cabinet were all pulled from actual dumpsters. BTW, the VCR came from a Blockbuster Video dumpster.

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and it's 1 - 2 - 3, what are we fighting for? don't ask me, I don't give a damn

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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I'm not saying you can't find good stuff there, I'm just saying that anything within the confines of the dumpster is on private property. Some jurisdictions enforce dding as trespassing, some don't. But curbing never involves trespassing, because the sidewalk is public property.

I'm not saying one is good and one is bad, or that one is better and one is worse, only that they're different.

Four Kitties

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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put it in writing
Xboxing Day


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Gotchya.

I have seen private citizens get fussy when you stop to poke through their curb trash, but I've never heard of legal action being taken on that, either.

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and it's 1 - 2 - 3, what are we fighting for? don't ask me, I don't give a damn

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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Huh? Gotcha what?

quote:
There is a US Supreme Court ruling that states that once you put your trash to the curb, it's public property.
They can get as persnickety as they like, but it still ain't trespassing.

Four Kitties

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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Eanar
I Saw Three Shipments


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As I live in a small town there aren't many dumpsters. However, we have a "Spring Cleanup Week" where lots of people find their trash and set it out on the curb for pickup. Last year I threw out a ton of stuff but by the time it was to be picked up most of it was gone. I just get a kick out of people wanting my old broken CRAP. Now, I really mean it. I don't throw anything out unless I can't think of any other use for it.

Ea"Hey, don't throw that out I may need it some day"nar

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24K_ Kate
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Now, I admit, I have picked up stuff people left at the curb. And I don't mind if someone takes something I have thrown out. In fact, just today, I threw out a very nice wicker chest that I was using to hold dog toys. I put it at the curb around 6; It is now 9 and it's already gone. Of course, I had a very good reason for getting rid of it. B'Elanna was using it as a alternate litterbox. I tossed it because couldn't get the smell out, and she kept using it. Someone is in for a surprise when they get thier new wicker chest inside....

24k"I suspect the whole process will be repeated"Kate

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<---Callisto

I have a 60 second snack idea for Rachel (Ray): Xanax, vodka, fall asleep.--Adrianne Frost, Best Week Ever.

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Chimera
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Our city has a yearly large item pick up where they will take almost anything left by the curb (furniture, appliances, carpets...). What always gets me is how bold some people are. I'll be out in the yard and not only is someone digging through my trash but hollers at me "morning! Hey, you going to be putting anything else out here?". Another odd encounter was from a well to do neighbour. We were talking one day and he thanked me for throwing out a chair because he was able to use the rollers off of it. I'm really glad (honestly) that people are able to use my old stuff but I just don't know what to say in those situations. Also I'm quite embarassed since most of it (like my old carpets) really should be quarintened for societies protection. And for me when something hits the trash it is trash. Everythings broken, VCR, hedge trimmer but people take it anyway. Although I must admit if I happened to see something interesting I'd probably stop and grab it.

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"The question for joining the protected forum for real magicians should be:

What is the use of women?"
Steve W. from JREF's 'This is no fun'

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Priestley's Mouse
We Three Blings


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Our town has the spring cleanup thing too, where people dredge out attics, basements, and garages and the township picks it all up.

Around here, though, it's sort of a yearly tradition for people to go trash-picking. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike. People put their stuff out a week ahead of time, and all week long you can see people checking the stuff out.

For an example, a few years ago I made a fog chiller for Halloween displays. To do this requires a cooler that you cut open at both ends. I really have no desire to spend good money on a brand new cooler just to cut it up. But we found someone's castoff, and it served the purpose perfectly. Garbage to them, gold to me.

I figure there's enough garbage sitting in landfills already. If someone else has a use for my old junk, I say go for it. I can't use a broken VCR, but maybe someone else can fix it and get some more use out of it. I see nothing shady or shameful about that.

Of course, the people that don't like to have their garbage "recycled" will wait until the last minute to put it on the curb, and then stand over it like a vulture until the truck gets there. Frankly, I can think of better things to get my panties in a bunch over.

MG

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More about me...

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Arts Myth
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Chimera:
And for me when something hits the trash it is trash. Everythings broken, VCR, hedge trimmer but people take it anyway.

Broken is often a subjective term. One person leaves a broken VCR on the curb because they can't fix it, another takes it from the curb because they think they can.

Arts "paint it" Myth

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"The missionaries told us not to cut ourselves. It displeases Jesus." - Elsie Clews Parsons, Kiowa Tales, quoted in The Mourner's Dance, Katherine Ashenburg

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Double Latte
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Spooky Girl, College Freshman:Of course, the people that don't like to have their garbage "recycled" will wait until the last minute to put it on the curb, and then stand over it like a vulture until the truck gets there. Frankly, I can think of better things to get my panties in a bunch over.
Strange, isn't it, how people can be about that? Many years ago, I cleaned out my closet, and took a box filled with old shoes and a few clothes to our apartment dumpster.

A woman was standing next to it and asked "are you just going to throw those things away?" I said "Yeah, you can have them if you want them." Well, her eyes lit up like a child on Christmas morning as she looked through those old things. It made me feel a little embarassed that my discards were so shabby!

When I returned to my apartment, I casually mentioned to my roommate that there was an old woman going through the dumpster, and he immediately asked "Did you notify the manager to call the police and run her off?" [Eek!]

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"Senility Prayer"
God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked
The good fortune to run into the ones that I do
And the eyesight to tell the difference.

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valee
I Saw Three Shipments


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In my county there is an ordinance that you can't take anything out of the huge public recycling dumpsters. It's primarily to stop folks from stealing the aluminum cans, but also to keep folks from sifting through the mixed paper bin. I've seen mail and old documents in there which appear to have personal information, including sealed envelopes that are offering yet another credit card. With all the identity theft, I always shred everything with my name on it before it goes in.

There's a well-dressed man who I've seen pulling boxes from the bin, to collect coupons for his grandaughter's school. I've pointed out to him that he's breaking the law, but he has an attitude that his mission is more important than the law, so he keeps doing it. I've suggested that he put a big envelope inside the nearby community center and asking folks to donate their coupons, but of course, then he wouldn't have the thrill of the hunt.

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Arts Myth
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by valee:
There's a well-dressed man who I've seen pulling boxes from the bin, to collect coupons for his grandaughter's school. I've pointed out to him that he's breaking the law, but he has an attitude that his mission is more important than the law, so he keeps doing it.

Could be all just a misunderstanding. Maybe he thought you were wishing him luck in his coupon hunt when you told him to "cut it out"...

Arts "10¢ off" Myth

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Stupid, stupid rat creatures! - Bone
"The missionaries told us not to cut ourselves. It displeases Jesus." - Elsie Clews Parsons, Kiowa Tales, quoted in The Mourner's Dance, Katherine Ashenburg

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blt
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by put it in writing:

But yes, you can certainly get trespassing warrents for dumpstering, and fines. Business owners get really strict about it, mostly for two reasons:
a) some dumpster divers scatter the trash as they go, and
b) if someone gets hurt on their property while dding, they can be held liable.

Another reason business owners are strict about dumpster diving is that it is a way to steal property. A company that I once worked for caught a theif who was putting perfectly good notebook computers into the dumpster to get them outside, then coming back after hours to retrieve them.

A friend of mine does quite a bit of dumpster diving because his employer is based from a mini-storage facility (he drives a pedi-cab). It is really amazing what some people will throw away when they empty their storage sheds! He frequently offers things to me that he can't use but doesn't want to see go into the landfill. I've gotten some excellent books, a four CD set of Janis Joplin hits, nice baskets, etc. The owner of the storage facility does not seem to have any problem with the diving activity.

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