A scheduled trash pickup turned into a homeowner’s nightmare recently when a new lawnmower was taken off her property by suspected “trash pickers.” The various pickers in the area follow the city’s sanitation collection routes to claim miscellaneous metal put out by the road for pickup.
A Warwick resident in the Highland Beach area reported her new lawnmower was taken by trash pickers on a recent Sunday afternoon. The resident said their trash wasn’t out by the road yet for pickup the following day.
“I left my lawnmower next to my garage, on a grassy area with no indicator that it was a freebee,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous. “This guy is going to scrap something working in a perfectly good order.”
A neighbor said they saw a man in a truck around 1:30 p.m. on a Sunday take the lawnmower, even though scheduled trash pickup in Ward 5 is on Mondays.
According to David Picozzi, acting director of public works, under a city ordinance, once trash is placed curbside for pickup, it belongs to the city.
Some may think these trash pickers are doing a service to the city by taking the metals because if not, it would end up in the landfill. On the contrary, Picozzi says the pickers aren’t helping because the city sells metals to a scrap metal business. That money goes into the general fund.
“Residents will call the city when wanting to trash a water heater, for example,” Picozzi said. “We generate a list for next day pickup, and when they go to the house, it is gone.”
Pickers run the garbage routes the day or night before scheduled trash pickup and snag the metals before the city gets to it. Picozzi equates the unauthorized collections to thefts.
Ward 5 Councilman John DelGiudice said walking on people’s property and taking unmarked items constitutes stealing. He thinks the only way to stop pickers is by identifying the vehicles used.
DelGiudice said the problem isn’t restricted to Highland Beach and that residents in other neighborhoods have reported similar incidents of trash pickers attempting to take metal property from homeowners.
“Residents need to be aware of where they leave their belongings,” DelGiudice said.