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Mark Wetzel, Deseret News
Police in Taylorsville are cracking down on "dumpster divers." Scavengers have been targeting giant trash bins put out on streets as part of Salt Lake County's neighborhood cleanup efforts. Some residents say they have been a little on edge with strangers eying the dumpsters.

TAYLORSVILLE — Police are stepping up patrols around certain Dumpsters.

Once a year, large trash bins are put outside of Salt Lake County homes as part of the cleanup program. But people are going "Dumpster diving," hoping to find scrap metal or other items. Officials say that’s stealing and can be dangerous.

The bins are for the annual Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District Cleanup Program. The large containers allow residents to dispose of bulky items or yard waste that will not fit in garbage cans. But when the dumpsters are dropped off, they seem to bring along scavengers.

For the first time in Taylorsville, extra law enforcement officers are patrolling the areas around Dumpsters. City officials say scavengers have some residents on edge.

"We get multiple complaints where people call and say, ‘We have strangers waiting (for people to put items in the Dumpster,) and it's making us uncomfortable,'" Taylorsville spokeswoman Aimee Newton said.

Robin, who didn’t want to give her last name, said she has noticed that some of the items that she has put in these Dumpsters have disappeared. That makes her nervous. She's worried people's eyes could move beyond the dumpster.

"They're scoping out the neighborhood for what else is available," she said.

Dumpster diving, the city said, is a safety issue, as well as a misdemeanor crime.

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"We see people put their kids in to try and get items out of the Dumpster. It's not safe. It's a liability issue for the district," Newton said.

Neighbors are also worried stolen scrap metal could affect dump fees. The landfill makes money off the material, and sending less to the landfill from the Dumpsters could mean a bigger bill for residents.

Unified police issued seven theft citations in less than 10 hours one day last week. Every time a scavenger is caught, they could face a $300 to $500 fine.

Email: ddolan@deseretnews.com