The Heap

Curbside Capers

Is the harvesting of a curbed appliance already bound for the scrap heap a serious crime? What about the pilfering of more than 11,000 such appliances in one city over the course of a few months?

The New York Times reported on a string of thefts that have police and sanitation officials scratching their heads. Over a period of a few months, the New York Department of Sanitation received 22,741 calls to collect discarded appliances. But 11,528 of the supposedly unwanted appliances had vanished by the time sanitation workers arrived. Sims Municipal Recycling of New York, which contracts with the city to recycle the scrapped appliances, estimates the lost scrap, along with a related epidemic of redeemable bottle thefts, have cost it between $2 and $4 million dollars.

Some officials suspect the influence of organized crime in the thefts, while others simply point to ambitious scavengers motivated by the bad economy. Meanwhile, a number of well-appointed kitchens and launderettes have been popping up under bridges and in alleys around the city.

Source: New York Times