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Orem trash bins off limits due to threat of ID theft

OREM — It's official. Dumpster-diving is now illegal in Orem.

The City Council approved a new city ordinance Tuesday night that would prohibit anyone using — or perusing — a garbage receptacle that is not theirs.

Exceptions include solid-waste collectors, law-enforcement officers involved in a criminal investigation and those who have permission from the owner to use their trash bin.

Orem police have responded to early-morning reports of people climbing and clawing through Dumpsters. In one case, officers found a woman who had snagged credit-card receipts from a business trash bin, said Orem City Attorney Paul Johnson.

Worried about the potential identity-theft issues, police contacted Johnson about two months ago for some legal backing to prosecute Dumpster diving.

Previously, when police officers spotted trash-bin hunters, there wasn't much they could do because such activity didn't violate any city ordinance, said Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards.

Under the ordinance passed Tuesday, climbing into a business or personal trash container without permission will carry a class B misdemeanor charge, regardless of what was fished out.

"We have known Dumpster-diving has been going on for years, we just thought, 'Ah, no big deal,' " Johnson said. "But as soon as we found this out, we thought, 'Uh-oh, they're looking for stuff.' I don't want any receipts from purchases I've made from a business going into a Dumpster then having particular individuals pick them up. I don't like that idea too much."

Police won't be boosting manpower or actively scouting out the scavengers — but the ordinance will allow officers a legal course of action if needed.

The ordinance is also in response to reports where people filled up private Dumpsters with their own garbage, rather than going to the dump.