I did not know until today that “Dumpster Diving” is a violation of city code.
8.8.190 – Salvaging prohibited.A. No person may pick over, sort, segregate, or salvage any refuse deposited in an authorized disposal area, refuse container or refuse pile.B. A violation of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a term not to exceed six (6) months in jail, a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00), or both.
The Great Falls Police Department shared that bit of info on Facebook, along with a gentle reminder: “Please be respectful, and law abiding, by leaving other people’s trash alone.”
I don’t know how widespread the practice is (I have never actually seen anyone doing it), but there are some people who are not happy about it -check out some of the comments on the GFPD FB post (below).
Well, I’m not generally in favor of more laws, but this one kind of makes sense to me — trash cans and/or Dumpsters are privately owned, and usually on private property, so (for instance) a person who comes onto my property and takes something that I own out of a garbage container that is owned by the waste company does seem rather…illegal.
On the other hand, I’d wager that in most cases, the “theft” is nothing more than someone noticing an old piece of clothing, or perhaps a used electronic device (TV, game console), and if they can get more use out of it than I can, then there’s no actual harm.
On the third hand, rummaging through trash is also a method that some people use to steal credit card applications, dabble in identity theft, and such.
Also please note that it is NOT the GFPD that writes or is responsible for city code – they are tasked with enforcing the law. And I suspect that in cases of “Dumpster diving,” they have and use quite a bit of discretion – they almost certainly aren’t going to cuff someone who happens to see a nifty jacket and plucks it off of the top of a pile of garbage and wanders off with it.
They probably WILL investigate if someone is rifling through a large Dumpster and tossing garbage indiscriminately all over the place.