Dumpster divers becoming aggressive

Dumpster divers becoming aggressive

It’s a messy problem that’s only getting worse – Kootenai County officials say dumpster divers are becoming more aggressive than ever at public dump sites outside of Coeur d’Alene.

Among the flies, is a prize some believe is worth getting dirty over. Kootenai County Solid Waste director Cathy Mayer said scavengers have become more aggressive over the past year and are scaring some people away.

“The public will actually go to deposit their garbage in the containers and there will actually be people, physically inside the dumpsters,” Mayer said. “Sometimes they will grab bags from the public when they are trying to deposit them.”

So what exactly are dumpster divers after? Mayer said many search for used materials they can sell at garage sales. Others will dig through trash looking for prescription drugs.

Scavenging is a misdemeanor in Kootenai County – violators can face up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail. Not only is scavenging items form dumpsters illegal – it can be dangerous.

“There can be sharp objects, there can be glass, there can be metal,” said Mayer.

The problem is so out of hand that Kootenai County is spending $100,000 to boost security at collection sites – installing cameras at two of the county’s main transfer stations, and eventually at rural dump locations.

Mayer said scavengers will often leave trash outside of the dumpsters once they are done rummaging – which creates more work for county workers to clean up. Mayer said security cameras will help identify not only scavengers, but also unauthorized dumping.

Not everyone believes scavengers should be punished.

“It’s going to end up in a landfill anyway,” said Nick Romans while dumping trash on Friday. “If someone can use it, then I don’t see what the big deal is all about.”