Illegal recycler tracked down by SDPD in Ocean Beach

Officers cite woman for pilfering bottles and cans

Police and code-enforcement officers bust a recycler
  • Police and code-enforcement officers bust a recycler

I was sitting on my couch on a quiet, sunny morning in Ocean Beach on February 25, when the not-too-unusual sounds of police sirens made me get up to see what the ruckus was about.

I saw two women talking to a third woman, whose bike was lying on the pavement. One police car and two officers were there, and within minutes, two other squad cars showed up.

After approaching to talk to them, I discovered that two of the women were code-enforcement officers with the city; they had tracked down the third woman, whom they said had been seen rummaging through recycling bins in search of bottles and cans to redeem for cash.

Neither my neighbors (who were spectators) nor I were aware that this taking from recycling bins is a misdemeanor. When cited, a court date is set; a failure to appear would be followed by a bench warrant that can carry a fine of up to $1000 and six months in jail.

The woman the code-enforcement officers had been chasing pleaded with them for a warning, but they wrote her a citation. When I asked why it was illegal, I was told that we get free trash pickup in San Diego and this is funded by our recycling program; scavengers have siphoned millions of dollars from the program, according to the officers.

One of the officers told me that one of the scavengers was in a car and tried to run her down last week when she was attempting to approach the driver with a citation. She was able to get out of the way in time. She said there has been a big surge of recycling pilfering during the past couple of years due to the suffering economy, and some of the transgressors have grown hostile and even violent.

To report someone digging in your recycling bin, call Environmental Services at 858-694-7000.

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Recycling is a money loser, not a revenue generator. It costs more to truck and ship recyclables than the recyclables are worth. A large percentage of the materials you place in your recycle bin are never recycled due to cost and are dumped in the landfill like regular trash. I say let the homeless and poor scavenge what they can from recycle bins and stop prosecuting them. Those two police officers are standing there basically doing nothing on company time when they should be out chasing crooks. The "criminal" probably won't show up in court because there's no money to pay the fine. An arrest warrent will eventually be issued for failure to appear and the culprit will be arrested and put in jail. This is going to wind up costing taxpayers $10,000 or more. But the cops have to keep arresting people to keep the judges, bailiffs, court clerks, etc. fully employed.

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