Originally Published: April 13, 2003 10 a.m.
PRESCOTT – A rash of missing trash containers has caused the Yavapai Silent Witness program to bring attention to the problem.
The Prescott Police Department reports that about 170 of the city's green trash dumpsters and blue recycling containers have disappeared in the past four years.
That translates to several thousand dollars worth of the dumpsters, based on the city's $37 cost for the large dumpsters and $25 for the recycling bins.
Although the Silent Witness release refers to a "trash can culprit," the city's solid waste supervisor, Jim Sutton, said it is more likely that dozens of culprits are at fault for the missing dumpsters.
In some cases, he said, people take the dumpsters with them when they move. In other cases, residents may leave the dumpsters when they move, only to have neighbors take them.
Sutton speculated that a number of the missing dumpsters are in use, but are not on the city's billing records.
For instance, he said, a resident might take a dumpster from a vacant home for his own use. Since the garbage truck drivers don't always know which homes are paying for two dumpsters, they might be picking up the trash from a missing dumpster.
"We think some people have extra cans, but they're not getting charged for them," Sutton said. The city offers residents a second dumpster for $5 extra per month.
Sutton said his crews would likely begin an inventory soon of city trash collection customers to determine how many extra dumpsters are in use, but not on the city's books. The inventory will probably begin after the spring cleanup and free dump days that are currently under way.
Although the city regularly replaces dumpsters that are cracked or broken, Sutton said the 170 represent ones that people have reported to the police as missing.
The Silent Witness report stated that "containers have been taken during the daylight hours as well as after dark and early in the morning. Some of the stolen containers have been full of trash at the time of the heist, but most of them were already emptied."
Anyone with information should call Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232. City Crime Prevention Specialist Steve Skurja said the Silent Witness notice has already generated some good information. Silent Witness offers a reward for information leading to an arrest.