Under New York City law, once trash reaches the curb, it stops being the property of the homeowner and becomes property of the city (a law initially passed to combat rampant theft of recyclables). But should this really be a zero tolerance offense?
When we make collecting garbage a crime, only criminals will collect garbage! Or something like that. NPR's Planet Money blog passes along this account of Queens, N.Y., resident Paul Lawrence, who was fined $2,000 and had his car impounded for taking a discarded air conditioner from the curb (with the homeowner's approval, no less) within sight of a city sanitation worker.