A local civic group is taking a proactive stance against the deposit bottle and can collectors who often trespass on private property.
Several collectors have startled members of the Country Club Civic Association by coming onto their property and rummaging through their trash looking for the five-cent treasures.
The civic association provided the Bronx Times with videos and photos of scavengers who enter private property, going so far as to open closed gates and locked fences, said Michael McNerney, CCCA president.
“It is not just about collecting bottles and cans,” said McNerney. “It is the fact that what these individuals are doing are committing crimes.”
McNerney added: “They are going on personal property and into backyards: committing the crimes of criminal trespass, petty larceny, criminal possession of stolen property.”
The civic association president said that after reaching out to the 45th Precinct, officers from its ‘conditions’ unit were sent to Country Club to address the issue.
At least one summons was issued to a persistent violator, said McNerney, adding that summonses or arrests could be a deterrent.
Arlene Grauer, CCCA vice president said several collectors are making rounds in the community.
She said that there have also been cases of bottle and can collectors blocking traffic as they walk in the center of streets with shopping carts overloaded with trash bags full of bottles.
“It is not like someone is down and out, and you put the bottles on the curb at night and they pick them up,” said Grauer. “This is where for the entire week they will go throughout the neighborhood and onto private property to collect bottles.”
The can and bottle collectors do not appear to be simply people in need but rather those who have chosen to make a living from picking through trash, often illegally, said Grauer.
She said that after closely watching the collectors for years, she has seen vans in some cases show up and collect the cans and bottles.
“I feel it is an enterprise where these collectors are out there and going onto private property,” she said.
McNerney believes that the trespassing is an invasion of privacy, and cited an incident where a collector startled a mother who was breast-feeding her baby near a first floor window.
The scavengers have also startled senior citizens, many of whom are home during the day when they seem to be very active, said Richard Kilgen, CCCA grievance committee chairman.
“These are not poor displaced people, rather individuals who have made this their full time endeavor for financial gain,” stated McNerney, adding the collecting issue has been mounting in severity for the past two years.
Neighboring communities have experienced similar issues, Kilgen said, with Andrew Chirico of the Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association confirming it has been an issue in his community.
McNerney believes that if the supply were cut off, demand would dry up.
“Encourage residents to return their recycled empty containers for deposit and lock them up until its time to return them,” he stated. “Those who do not want to return the empties, should deface the bar codes on bottles and cans, or crumble or break all together.”