3 Criminal Activities To Protect Your Commercial Dumpsters & Recycling Containers From

If you own a commercial property and have dumpsters for refuse and recycling purposes, it's important to protect your dumpsters from criminal activity, including dumpster diving, arson, and vandalism. Here's what you need to know. 

Dumpster Diving 

Depending on local ordinances, dumpster diving is generally not considered illegal unless the dumpster is located on private property. According to law, when refuse is placed in a receptacle in a public place, the property in the receptacle is no longer considered owned property. Therefore, as long as the dumpster is located in a public area, anyone can take whatever they want from the dumpster. 

Due to this, it is important to keep your dumpsters and recycling containers on your property instead of on or near the curb. If, however, dumpsters and recycling containers are located on a property that the public has access to, such as restaurants and shopping centers, the property is not considered private. Therefore, these types of properties can protect their dumpsters and recycling containers by securing them in a locked area, such as in a fenced in area with a lockable gate. 

While the items you throw away or place in recycling containers are items that you no longer want, it's important to protect your business from liability lawsuits should someone who dives into your dumpsters and recycling containers gets injured in the process. 


In Queens, a person set three dumpsters on fire in a commercial area. Although the authorities received no reports of injuries as a result from the incidents, there was a report of damage to a patrol car that was parked near one of the dumpsters. 

It's important to consider the location of your dumpsters and recycling containers and the damage that could occur to nearby structures and vegetation in case someone sets a fire in the receptacle. In many areas, there are fire codes and regulations that determine the appropriate distance these types of receptacles should be from structures and vegetation, particularly trees. Your commercial trash service can tell you the safest place for the placement of your receptacles. 

Also, you should consider the types of materials and refuse that are placed in your dumpsters and recycling containers. It's important to determine if those items are combustible and/or flammable and, if so, enclose the receptacles in a fenced in area with a gate that locks. For example, auto repair shops regularly dispose of brake cleaner containers and aerosol cans that can explode when a fire is ignited. Ask your local fire code official to help you determine which items are combustible and/or flammable and how to protect your dumpsters and recycling containers. 


Vandalism to the receptacles is another illegal activity you should be aware of. Vandals spray paint dumpsters or attempt to damage them by toppling them over. Of course, this type of activity should be called into the authorities but unless there are eyewitnesses or you have security cameras in place, the vandals may not be caught. Therefore, in addition to the vandals not being charged with a crime, you won't be able to file a lawsuit against the perpetrators for them to pay for the damages to the receptacles. 

If your property is in a high crime area, it's a good idea to set up a surveillance camera system targeted on the area where the dumpsters and recycling containers are located. Also, it's important to understand the terms of the contract you have with the commercial trash service regarding these types of criminal activities and whether or not you would be covered by an insurance policy that is included in the contract. 

Contact a local receptacle company, like E.L. Harvey & Sons, for more information.