Newport's trash-picking ban leads to 5 arrests

Newport Beach's ban on scavenging for recyclables has led to five arrests since the law took effect in January, police said.

Four of the five suspects had criminal backgrounds, which included battery, lewd conduct, tampering with vehicles, using false identification, possession of narcotic paraphernalia, being drunk in public, tampering with vehicles and trespassing, according to the Newport Beach Police Department.

None of the suspects were from Newport. They were from Fullerton, Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Ana, said Sgt. Steve Burdette.

In late January, the City Council voted to criminalize scavenging through trash, citing concern from residents that people could take documents with information that could lead to identity theft. There were also concerns that scavenging leads to crimes of opportunity, such as garage break-ins.

Three of the five suspects also had warrants for criminal violations.

"We're looking more for professional recyclers," said Burdette, adding that police have discretion on whether to cite or arrest someone going through residents' bins.

Burdette did not know what the suspects had in their possession.

All recyclable items will be recovered from suspects, the news release said.

At the January council meeting, the city said that taking valuable recyclables was tantamount to stealing from the city because the city profits from its recycling program.

"This amendment was in response to a growing number of citizen complaints and community concerns regarding individuals entering private grounds to search through trash cans," the news release said.

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