By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
Every neighborhood in Los Angeles has them: The pervasive man or woman who picks through dumpsters and waste bins for forgotten cans and bottles—all to trade in for pennies on the dollar.
Here in Pacific Palisades, some residents are worried that identity thieves are using trash picking as a Trojan Horse for acquiring documents containing personal information.
Riviera resident George Zaloom told the Palisadian-Post that police gave warnings to him and other neighbors that their refuse bins have been targeted by white-collar criminals.
His warning even sparked a heated debate on whether scavenging warrants a call to the police after he posted pictures of two men that were caught rummaging through a neighbor’s trash can.
“We were told by police and recycle truck drivers not to encourage these scavangers,” Zaloom told the Post. “As evidenced by the pictures, these scavengers are becoming more and more belligerent.”
In the pictures, one of the men is seen holding up his middle finger as he drives away in a beat up work truck.
According to LA County Municipal Code Sec. 66.28. “Refuse, Rubbish And Salvage—Tampering With” the removal of discarded items from city bins is prohibited by any person other the “owner, his agent or employees, or an officer or employee of [the] city.”
Warnings located on the inside lid of the blue bin let scavengers know that a first offense is punishable by a $500 fine and/or up to six months in jail.
Others have pushed back against the status quo, like neighbor Matt Daenzer, who believes that while the act of scavenging may be considered a petty theft, the men pictured in the photos should not be treated like criminals.
“These guys have been picking trash in the Palisades for years,” Daenzer said. “In the past, I’ve even commissioned them to haul away some old items from my home. These claims of identity theft are demonizing to good people who are just trying to feed their families.”
In order to shed some light on the matter, the Post reached out to LAPD Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore, who said that although it’s possible for a thief to steal personal information from the trash, he’d hadn’t heard of any such crimes taking place in the Palisades.
“Nowadays suspects are more likely to just steal mail,” Moore said. “My guess is that if someone has a big truck and is picking cans out of the trash, then they are not looking for documents.”
What Moore did advise, whether such “identity scavengers” exist or not, was that all Palisadians should shred any document containing a name, address or phone number before throwing it away.
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