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Dumpster Diving Illegal in Ventura but Legal in Santa Barbara

Dumpster Diving Illegal in Ventura but Legal in S.B.

VENTURA, Calif. - Have you ever seen someone searching through a trash can on your street?  Neighbors in the beachside neighborhood of Pierpont in Ventura say their trash cans are being scavenged through now more than ever and they want the dumpster diving to stop.

The saying, "One person's trash is another person's treasure" is one to live by for dumpster divers.

Dumpster diving is becoming increasingly popular. That's when someone rifles through your trash looking for something they want.  In many cases dumpster diving is harmless, but that is not always the case.  It is also a way identity thieves can steal your private information.

There is no federal or state law that prohibits dumpster diving, but several central coast cities have ordinances that make it illegal.  In the city of Ventura it is illegal to look through someone's trash.

"A lot of people don't know that it is, but once the trash is actually put into a trash can and the residents bring those trash cans out to the street it becomes the property of the trash company, which for Ventura is Harrison and Sons," said Sgt. Tom Higgins with the Ventura Police Department.

In the city of Santa Barbara, dumpster diving is OK. Marborg Industries and the Santa Barbara Police Department both confirmed to NewsChannel 3 that once the trash cans are placed on the street it is free game, and open for anyone to look through or take its contents.  There is a Santa Barbara ordinance, however, protecting recyclables from being taken from recycling containers.

Since your identity can easily be stolen through the documents you throw away, the best way to protect your identity is to shred any documents that have personal information on them before you throw them away.  Another tip: Wait until the morning of trash day to put your trash container on the street.  If you put your trash can out the night before, this gives anyone the cover of dark to search through your thrown-out belongings.

All the central coast police departments NewsChannel 3 spoke to say as long as your trash cans are still on your property.  No one is allowed to look through them.


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