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Tampering with trash receptacles is illegal

Updated October 5, 2017

In 2008, the City of Cerritos converted to a three-barrel trash system that requires separation of regular trash, yard waste and recyclables. There are many positive aspects of this method that benefit the environment. However, the barrels do attract individuals that pilfer other people's recyclables. The Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center has received complaints about this practice since the conversion to the new system. Residents have reported that late night and early morning trash pilfering is occurring in various parts of the City prior to trash pick-up day.

Cerritos Municipal Code Section 6.08.070 (d) reads as follows:

"No person, other than the owner thereof, his agents or employees or an officer or employee of this city or any person holding a contract with this city for the collection or disposal of refuse, his agents or employees authorized for such purposes, shall tamper or meddle with any refuse or rubbish container or the contents thereof, or remove the contents of any container or remove any container, from the location where the same shall have been placed by the owner thereof or his agent".

Some residents have reported confrontations with those removing items. The Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center recommends that instead of confronting a person removing the contents of a receptacle, the best thing to do is to promptly report the violation.

Trash pilfering is a misdemeanor. Deputies have been issuing citations in these cases and will continue to do so. To report these incidents, contact the Cerritos Sheriff's Station at (562) 860-0044. Be prepared to describe the person(s) as well as a vehicle description (if applicable) and a direction of travel. Residents may want to consider placing all three barrels or just the recyclable container out at 7:30 a.m. on the day of collection. This reduces the timeframe for pilfering, and lessens the volume of incidents.


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