Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Relayman asks about aluminum can theft

Yesterday, Relayman sent us an email asking, “Are we supposed to call the cops every time we see someone going through the bins?” Excellent question, we thought, especially after reading about his frustration with an ongoing problem in his neighborhood:

According to a flyer we received from the City of Norwood, removing aluminum cans from the recycling bins is illegal. Yet, once again, it's Monday night and the old guy is going down Kenilworth pulling cans out of recycling bins.

I called the dispatch center once on another gentleman, and they sent out an officer, but I'm not sure how that was handled (I doubt that an arrest was made, though, because the officer didn't actually witness the subject stealing aluminum).

What's the solution? My solution is simple: I don't put aluminum cans in the recycling bin any more. The last straw was when I saw two children, about six and eight, going through the bins.

We quickly paid a visit to the Norwood Health Department website’s Recycling page and found this:

It is illegal to remove items from recycling bins, either on private property or at the curb. The City of Norwood receives grant funds to increase recycling based on the amount recycled, so taking items from residents’ recycling bins is just like stealing from the city. It is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a $1000 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Next, we spoke with the NPD’s Lt. Tom Williams, Jr., and he told us, “Residents should immediately call the police non-emergency number 458-4520 every time they see someone illegally removing items from recycling bins. It’s not illegal, however, for people to remove items from regular garbage cans. Although the responding officer does have discretion not to arrest, say, a first time offender, perhaps someone who claims not to know about the ordinance, the police do need a record of each infraction in the event there‘s a second offense.” Lt. Williams also said it’s extremely helpful if the witness can provide a sworn affidavit about the incident in case the police aren’t able to catch the crime in progress.

The City of Norwood is paid by the ton for what we recycle, so it costs every time items are stolen from the bins. Lt. Williams pointed out that aluminum cans are increasing in value, so we may see more and more thieves on the prowl for them. If that’s the case, Relayman’s last question may not be farfetched: do we need bins that lock and only Rumpke can open them?