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Reporting Recycling Theft

Theft of Recycle Material

Over the past few years, the value of various metals (such as aluminum cans) has increased dramatically due to the global needs for these resources. Therefore, indiscriminate individuals have targeted residential neighborhoods and are taking citizens' recyclables when placed in front of their residences for garbage collection day.

Once the recyclables are placed in a designated recycle container provided by a designated recycle collector the contents becomes the property of the designated recycle collector. If the recyclables are taken by unauthorized persons it constitutes theft.

If a person steals your recyclables you should do the following:

  1. Do not approach or contact the subject.
  2. If safety permits, obtain a description of the subject.
  3. If the recycling bins are on the street or curb call 311 with suspect details. Cellular callers may need to dial (408) 277-8900.
  4. If the recycling bins are in your back yard and you feel threatened, you should call 911 with suspect details.
  • Although, you may feel this is a harmless crime, scavenging presents an opportunity for individuals to check out your alley, garage and home. They may want more than your recyclables and could come back later to burglarize your garage or home.

  • Be alert and report suspicious people or vehicles in your neighborhood. This includes strangers walking down your alley looking in garages, loitering, or vehicles circling the block with occupants you do not recognize.

  • Put your neighborhood watch force to work. Communicate with your neighbors regularly and organize a block club meeting to discuss safety issues and security on your block.

Review the following San Jose Municipal Codes for further information:

9.08.015  Authorized recycling contractor.
“Authorized recycling contractor,” as used in this chapter, means a person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity authorized under and by virtue of a contract with the city to collect recyclable waste material in the city.
(Ord. 22054.)

9.08.185  Recyclable waste material; recycling.
A.   “Recyclable waste material,” as used in this chapter, means discarded materials such as, but not limited to, newspapers, glass and metal cans, which are separated from other garbage or refuse for the purpose of recycling.
B.   “Recycling,” as used in this chapter, means the process of collecting and turning used products into new products by reprocessing or remanufacturing them.
(Ord. 22054)

9.10.700  Ownership of recyclable material.
Except as provided in Sections 9.10.710, 9.10.720 and 9.10.730, upon the placement of recyclable materials in a designated recycling collection location for collection by an authorized recycling collector, the recyclable material shall become the property of the authorized recycling collector.
(Ord. 24315.)

9.10.740  Unauthorized collection prohibited.
No person, other than an authorized recycling collector, shall remove recyclable material which has been placed in a designated recycling collection location. Any and each such removal in violation hereof from any designated recycling collection location shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.
(Ord. 24315)


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