WSAZ Investigates: What are they stealing now?

Published: Oct. 15, 2018 at 6:13 PM EDT
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We cover stories daily of thieves stealing valuables like cars, identities and jewelry. But now, it seems like they're stealing items with seemingly no value, except when you have to spend money to replace them.

When Mike McCormick goes to take out the trash, it's the last he thinks of it. That is until recently.

"It's a nuisance,” he said. “It really is."

When his trash cans went missing, not once, but twice, in the last year.

WSAZ has found thieves are now targeting trash cans.

We've talked to multiple people who have had theirs taken.

Over in Portsmouth, Ohio, city leaders said it happens at least twice a day.

It's even hit at least three employees at WSAZ.

So McCormick is spray painting his address again on his barrels, drilling holes in the bottom and putting them on a chain through his garage on Huntington's Southside.

He never thought it’s something he would have to do.

“Who would steal a trash can?"

But it's more than an annoyance, it's a safety concern too with his wife and toddler at home.

"You hear a noise in the back and you want what's going on," McCormick said.

Sean Singleton, who also lives on the Southside, has a similar story. His trash cans have also been stolen twice in recent years.

"They're about $100 each," he said. “That isn't cheap at all."

So a few extra bucks for a chain and lock seems like a smart investment for his two cans. He hasn't had a problem since.

"We haven't lost them since, but it's a pain,” he said. “To steal somebody's trash can, that's the lowest of the low, I think."

But in Portsmouth, where it happens almost twice a day, the city replaces about 700 a year to neighbors who report a missing one. Since it's a city run trash service, each costs taxpayers about $65.

Meanwhile, for Singleton a lock and chain is a hassle worth his time. But he still wishes his money and his time could be used on something else.

"It seems ridiculous in this day and age you have to worry about your trash can getting stolen. Obviously there's a market for stolen trash cans, I guess."

Huntington police tell us the stolen trash cans may go to flea markets or other marketplaces.

Huntington requires residents use some type of hard container for sanitation reasons. They advise you store them in a secure location unless it's trash day. If yours is stolen, it may seem small, but you should still file a police report which you can do online and email in.

St. Albans is discussing a vagrancy ordinance which would include banning things like dumpster diving.

Ashland, Kentucky, has a similar system to Portsmouth where residents are issued city trash barrels for garbage pickup. But compared to hundreds stolen in Ohio, they say they have about 25 a year.

They said if a resident files a police report, they get a replacement for free. Otherwise it costs $50.

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