Stop, Thief!

Did y’all see this article in the Strib about aluminum can garbage pickers? (You might need to be registered to read that.)

This is the most ridiculous damn thing.

Bandits are roaming Minneapolis alleys in the wee hours of the morning and making off with a precious metal — aluminum cans.

Basically, they want you to call 911 if you find someone poaching from your recycling. There are so many things wrong with this.

1. They’re playing against your fears. “Police also want to know who’s walking the alleys. They could be casing a house, looking for unlocked garages or cars, he said….The 911 call likely would alert police to suspicious activity or a theft in progress, Reier said. Filchers could be warned or tagged by police.” If they’re casing your joint, they’re not gonna stop and rattle around in your backyard while they do it.

2. Nice choice of language. “It’s theft from the city.” “It’s a crime against the city.” You know what? So is the fact that we have poor and homeless people that need the money so badly they have to pick through our garbage to support themselves. Actually, I don’t know for sure if it’s homeless people or hoodlums or who it is that’s making away with my 60-to-65-cents-per-pound precious metal. But you get my drift.

3. How does the cost of lost recycling revenue compare to the cost of having a cop come to your house when you call 911? ‘Cause the “poachers” will be long gone by the time the cops get there. And how does this even constitute an emergency?

It sounds like St. Paul’s take is a little more reasonable.

St. Paul’s contractor says it works with the authorities to stop scavengers, though it calls a nonemergency number. Susan Hubbard of the nonprofit Eureka Recycling said that if its collectors “happen to catch someone, we’ll inform them it’s against the law.” She said Eureka is not so worried about an individual picking up a few cans but about people who “pull up in pickup trucks and vans” and swipe bags of aluminum.

I did, however, learn something from all this. It’s much more profitable to recycle all those cans yourself than it is to, say, drive them to Michigan to get the bottle deposit. I ought to recycle my own damn cans and recoup the cost of the taxes I’m paying to the city of Minneapolis to pick them up in the first place.

2 Comments so far

  1. Nate (unregistered) on May 26th, 2005 @ 5:49 pm

    Wow…that is really scary. I personally wish that someone homeless would come take my recycling. He will put it to better use than the city even will, that’s for sure.


  2. Lex (unregistered) on June 6th, 2005 @ 9:57 am

    Given the local media in this town, I’m not surprised of the alarmist angle. I am pleased when I come out to fill my recycling bin and see it’s been emptied by a local “scavenger” — it’s like making a donation to the homeless.

    Of course, they may be using the money from the cans for booze or drugs, but I like to think they use it for food.



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