Public Awareness/Curbside Trash
by Diane Dodd

If you’re not careful, they’ll trash yours too!!

Many cites generally consider it legal for people to rummage through trash that has been left in a public area such as a curb awaiting pickup. Once the garbage is placed in such a place, the person has basically forfeited their ownership rights to the items, as the property is now in the public domain.
But wait.

In the state of Louisiana you are also responsible for your trash even AFTER it leaves your property? Essentially, you are accountable for where your trash winds up until it makes it to the landfill. That means, even if the garbage man places it in to the back of the dump truck and it flies out, if it’s sitting on the side of the road and it can be proven that it is YOUR trash that is littering the road (i.e. your address on mail, shippers, etc.), YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. YOU WILL BE CITED. But, did you know that if someone comes along, rummages through your trash, takes it and dumps it illegally that once again, if it can be proven it is YOUR trash – you WILL BE CITED?
This is legal, my friends! A random individual may rummage through your trash, take what he/she wishes to take and leave with it. It is ILLEGAL for them to dump the trash in anything other than an authorized dumping area, however, they won’t be cited if they aren’t seen doing it and IF there is any proof in the trash they took and dumped that it is YOURS, you will be cited for THEIR illegal actions.

I am taking the time to write this public service announcement because this very thing happened to me. I am a tax paying resident of Natchitoches, having recently moved here just a few short years ago after retiring from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department at the rank of Sergeant. I, with my family, built our dream home and have entered the next chapter of our lives. Being a city resident, I pay for my trash to be picked up and removed off of my property. I was ridiculously confident that I was doing what was required of me. Placing my rubbish curbside after I diligently bagged, packaged, bundled and prepared my trash to be picked up by the city.

On the evening of Wednesday, February 19, 2020, I received a visit from two Officers with Wildlife & Fisheries. I was in the midst of receiving my 8U Basketball team to take them to a NSU Demons game. My family and some members of my basketball team were watching as I was ‘READ MY RIGHTS’, and only then, after I was read my rights was I told that I was being given a CITATION for ILLEGALLY dumping my trash in a remote area at the edge of town. You cannot even begin to fathom the humiliation I felt, in front of children who look up to me as a role model and In front of my own family, who has proudly watched me as I served my country as a First Responder with integrity and strong morals.

THIS CITATION DID NOT BELONG TO ME. But I stood there, humbly listening to the Officers who showed me they had ‘proof’ it was my trash – a shipping label off of an Amazon box. And because of this, it was my responsibility. In all of my years of life, I have NEVER been read my rights and all I could think of was “I now know how an innocent person must feel when they are read their rights”.

After a bit of discussion with the Officers, and the review of pictures that were taken at the dumpsite, my memory was triggered by items that I had prepared and left curbside on January 13, 2020, after cleaning of my storage unit and bagging a bunch of leaves. I told the officers that I had found it strange after placing my rubbish curbside, I witnessed two white males quickly stopping to collect my trash bags into the back of their truck. Apparently, they took my bags, rummaged through them, and then threw the bags along “Dirt” Blanchard Road. Regardless of the fact that I had personally witnessed someone removing trash from my property that were not city appointed individuals, and because I did not have a license plate or name of the individual, I was deemed the person at fault, guilty of a crime I did not commit and subsequently received the citation for legally placing my trash at the curbside.

The violation on my citation was: Revised Statute 30:2531.1- Gross littering prohibited. Section (2) “When litter disposed in violation of this Section is discovered to contain any article or articles, including but not limited to letters, bills, publications, or other writings, which display the name of a person or in any other manner indicate that the article belongs or belonged to such person, there shall be an inference that such person has violated this Section. Section (C) The person shall be cited for the offense by means of a citation, summons, or other means provided by law. Section (D.1) Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall upon first conviction, be fined not less that $500.00 nor more than $1000.00 and sentenced to serve eight hours of community service in a litter abatement work program as approved by the court.

Many of you are probably saying; “Just don’t throw anything away that would lead back to your residence, or with your name on it!” and I fully agree with you. This is of course a very important thing to do regardless of trash responsibility. The purpose of this public service announcement is to 1) Make the public aware of their legal responsibility when it comes to trash disposal, and 2) Encouragement to each of you to contact your local officials and begin the process of possibly changing laws.

We need to rally together as a community and find a way to make the ‘Trash Scavengers who turn in to Illegal Dumpers’ accountable. In my experience, there are two types of these scavengers, turned illegal dumpers. The first, being a refurbish/re-sale individual. The second, a drug addict looking for something to sell to get their “fix”. If we don’t find ways to fix this growing concern, we will continue to suffer at the hands of Officers who are performing their duties to cite individuals who ‘appear’ to be illegally dumping even if we are law abiding community members.

Lets work together to tackle this ever-growing issue: More and more cities are passing curbside trash laws in an attempt to tackle scavengers from rummaging through trash or removing trash from the premises. Steps a city might want to entertain:

1. Enact “Anti-Scavenging Laws” to keep people from stealing (and making money from) your discarded items.
2. If you want to give something away for free, place a sign on it Or place an ad on sites like Facebook Marketplace with a ‘curbside alert for free’.
3. If you see something in your neighbors’ trash you want, simply ask them if you can have it.
4. Make it a crime for anyone, other than City Refuse or law enforcement, to remove your bagged trash at the curbside.

I retired to this lovely small town to raise our 8-year-old son and to be closer to my mother. I’m known around town now as “Coach Dodd” because I’ve coached my son’s baseball, basketball, and soccer teams. I’m building a name for myself, and my family, in this community and maintaining my integrity is extremely important. I’m also doing this PSA because I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else. It was deeply humiliating.

My name was trashed (metaphorically) don’t let them trash yours too.

24 thoughts on “THEY TRASHED MY NAME!!

  1. So a person can be pursued by hounds of the Baskervilles on presumptions by an agency that needs to clean up certain aspects of their act?

    • Matthew, yes you are absolutely right. But many home owners do not know their names can be stolen right off the internet without anyone going through their trash. Go to Whitepages and do a search of your address. If you haven’t opted out of this information, anyone can get your name to go with your address. PM me if you need help Opting out. Take care and be safe out there.

  2. I see nothing wrong with taking something I see curbside in the trash..I like to upcycle items others throw them from the landfill..

    • There wasn’t an issue until people started taking items and then illegally dumping them. Those are the ones I’m worried about

    • If you are a homeowner, don’t forget to take yourself off Whitepages”. They can still get your name without going through your trash. Be safe out there.

  3. Imma call BS on that whole story. You can have your house robbed and the cops will tell you that there is nothing that can be done. No way they found one bag of garbage, dug through said garbage to find a name, go to the house and give you a ticket. And why would they read you your rights giving you a ticket? I’ve had many tickets and never had that happen.

    • Well, you could ask that of the officers that gave me the ticket. Not sure if you think my story is BS or the officers actions. But this is a real story my friend. Have a blessed day.

  4. To JLP-RET. Your comment which included a reference to the Mayor was a cheap shot.You should be ashamed.

  5. It needs to be made illegal for trash diving garbage, those people are disgusting lowlifes. It can be considered theft in the right situation. Just start taking shots at them when they go through your trash. This is the same as prosecution with NO EVIDENCE. PERIOD. THOSE COPS AND JUDGE NEED TO BE SMACKED UPSIDE THEIR HEADS!

  6. Thats stupid, that law is retarded as hell. You got screwed, and I hope this article gets you the justice you need, and show officials how bullshit this law is. Guess we just shoot people who rummage through our trash, cops are shit anymore, no offense.

  7. Diane, it seems that this little town has given you a lot to fight for, and I admire the way you have handled the battles you have been drawn into through no fault of your own. I truly hope this is in no way a retaliation because you won the first battle. This may sound a little far out, but there are people in this town who don’t like to lose. Not accusing anyone, just a random thought because you messed up the city’s plan for that temporary bridge. I hope we are above such ridiculous ways of getting back at people.
    Welcome to Natchitoches and thank you for the things you are doing to make this town a better place in which to live.

    • The temp bridge at my location was taken off the list of possible locations. I really do not think it has anything to do with that. The jokers found my metal detector in the trash and just thought the other bags had good stuff to sell. And when they realized they didn’t, they illegally dumped them. The guys who did this are well known in this area for going through trash and loading up their trucks.

  8. I suspect that you live within the city limits and are required to place your refuse at the curb for pickup. About the only way to curtail people illegally taking your trash is to have the city contract with the refuse company amended to allow you place your trash cans up next to your house for pickup. If someone then decides to rummage through your trash, they would be trespassing. Or the city should enact an ordnance making it illegal for anyone except authorized personnel to pick up or rummage through your trash and have a stiff penalty for a violation. I live just outside the city limits and have never had this problem. The trash cans go out to my driveway, just in front of the garage on trash collection day, and they get picked up by a private contractor. But to be safe, I always shred anything with my name and address on it. Or you could find something with the mayor’s name and address on it to put in your trash. 😉

    • I shred things as well. But I didn’t shred that big amazon box that had my sons trampoline inside of it. I’m interested in finding a solution to this ever growing issue. I spoke to the Mayor about this incident and he was very helpful. I know you were probably just joking but our Mayor had my back 10000 %.

  9. That was very unfair, and my first thought was to get the law changed, so if any petition or anyway I can participate I would gladly do it, because that’s telling the scavengers that it’s okay, they can keep doing it, they wont be held accountable.

  10. Happens all the time, you are taking your bags of trash to the dump site, one falls out, after that your trash is all up and down the road way. One reason why we have so much trash on the roads now. Until more tickets are handed out, this problem will continue. I got behind one of the trash trucks after a pick up, they forgot to close the door, guess what was flying everywhere? People’s trash! This is an ongoing problem and we did to be more careful. Remember to take your name off of everything!

    • I live in the city limits. I don’t take my trash to the dump. I bagged up a bunch of leaves and a bunch of boxes that wouldn’t fit in the city bins. My city bins were not touched. Thank you for your comment.

  11. Well written. We have the same problems out here “in the country”. Those known around here as “dumpster divers’, go through bags of trash and throw what they don’t want on the ground. People have no regard for the law. I agree, something needs to be done to stop this.

    • Carolyn, If it’s legal for them to take your trash, what’s going to stop them from taking it and then illegally dumping it?? We need to get the upper hand on their behavior. Proactive rather than reactive. Thanks for your response.

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