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Later garbage collection to counter Toter diving?
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Mayor-elect Steve DeBrum would like to see all options explored to combat scavengers rifling through residential garbage cans looking for junk mail to sell to ID thieves as well as to snag recyclables and leaving trash strewn around on the street in their wake.

One suggestion DeBrum would like to see studied would be switching garbage collection to “later hours” meaning during the daylight. That means residents could place Toters at curbside at dawn eliminating scavengers being able to operate under cloak of darkness.

Most cities start in the early morning to take advantage of less traffic on the street.

DeBrum made it clear he wasn’t advocating the idea but he felt it was important that all avenues be pursued.

The comments came Tuesday as the City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to outlaw either entering designated garbage collection containers or taking items from them.

The ordinance is in response to growing concerns about identify theft where items ranging from magazines and catalogues to junk mail for credit cards and more often provide information such as authorization codes and even personal data that can be used to hijack a person’s identify. Bags of such materials are selling for $25 on the street in Manteca, according to Police Chief Nick Obligacion.

At the same time about 10 months ago, the solid waste collection division noticed a major jump in citizens’ complaints about trash being strewn along city streets believing refuse truck crews were responsible. It turned out it is the work of scavengers — both the homeless and drug addicts — rummaging through Toters for recyclables and — in a growing number of cases — junk mail and such to sell to ID thieves.

The city is also testing switching to lockable Toters.

They can only be opened by unlocking them or when they are turned completely upside down while being dumped into a refuse truck.

The proposed ordinance — if approved a second time on Dec. 2 — would go into effect in early January. It would:

• make garbage placed at a designated collection location such as inside a closure and at curbside or in an alley the property of the City of Manteca.

• make it unlawful for any person other than city personnel to pick up or collect any garbage materials from a designed collection location.

• allow inhabitants of businesses or residential dwellings to retain the right to remove garbage materials from a designated collection location that they have personally placed there.

• require all garbage materials to be placed in designate containers approved by the director of Public Works. 

• require cardboard containers — unless they are placed in approved containers — to be flattened and baled prior to placement outside buildings.

• reinforce the city’s exclusive rights to garbage collection.

• make violation of the ordinance a misdemeanor.

The city has started placing no trespassing signs outside of commercial dumpster enclosures. Homeless often sleep in the dumpsters containing recyclables.

Obligacion said he contacted cities such as Davis, Menlo Park, Sacramento and Concord that had similar issues as Manteca and found they all implemented ordinances like the one council approved.