Trashing Your Identity

A strong windstorm is not the only thing that can cause your trash cart to roll down the street. Would you believe me if I said that your trash cart can just magically disappear in the middle of the night?

Can you imagine getting ready to bring in your trash cart from the curb, having put it out the night before, only to find it missing? You call your trash company to have them tell you that sometimes the trash trucks accidentally pick up your trash cart and dump it into their truck, and that they would be ok with replacing yours. They tell you that it is weird, but they have received other calls recently about disappearing trash carts in your area. 

So your curiosity is piqued enough to start calling around your neighborhood. Did anyone see anything? Why yes, someone did, and your neighbor got it on their surveillance camera. Not even half an hour after you placed your garbage outside on the curb, someone drives by, reaches out their hand, and grabs the handle to your trash cart and drags it down the road as they drive away. This did not happen in the outskirts of Deer Park, but right in the middle of town. These criminals are not discriminatory; all are potential victims to them. 

Why on earth would someone want to steal a trash cart? The first and best known reason is identity theft. These scavengers are looking to steal your very identity. They will use even the smallest bit of information they find to do any number of damaging deeds. They can apply for loans, open a credit card account, or even file tax returns in your name. Then you are plagued with dealing with getting your money back or credit cards replaced. It can also affect your credit scores, which could create more lasting damage. 

Here are some ways you can protect yourself against identity thieves:

  • Shred information that is no longer needed with a cross-shredder. (Using a shredder that gives straight strips is too easy for thieves to reassemble to get your information.) 
    • If you do not have a shredder or do not have the time, you can look around for places like public libraries and banks that will do free shred days, especially in April and May.
    •  In fact, the North Spokane Library will be having a Free Shred day July 31st at 10am-12pm or until the shred truck is full. You are limited to two banker boxes. Go to for more information:
  • Monitor your accounts and credit reports online when possible. You can catch unauthorized use much more quickly.
  • Obtain your free credit report annually.
  • Lock your credit for 90 days.

The second reason is that your trash can itself can be sold for a profit. Most hardware stores will sell their 32 or 64 gallon plastic wheeled trash cans with lids for anywhere from $50 to $200. Waste management trash carts have a serial number to hinder the reselling of carts. However, the best thing you can do to hinder this is to make sure you are bringing in your garbage can from the curb as soon as your service has picked up. 

What Can You Do To Protect Your Community?

  • Video surveillance is a great tool. Also, have signs on your property stating that you have video surveillance.
  • Leave exterior lights on. Use the dusk-to-dawn setting or motion detection.
  • If you see any suspicious vehicle driving slowly through your neighborhood, don’t dismiss your gut feeling. They could be trolling around looking for things to steal.
    • Don’t confront “suspicious vehicles” or “suspicious individuals”. 
    • Contact Crime Check and provide them with any information that would be helpful for their investigation, such as vehicle license plate number, vehicle description, time, day, and any other pertinent details. 

This article is not designed to scare, but to empower our community to take action. No one should have to feel alone and vulnerable because they took out the trash the night before.

Crime Check Information

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