Dear Urban Diplomat: The local vagrant is plucking bottles from inside our gate. Should I call the cops?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I built a porch at the front of our house, and we moved our recycling bins to the back. The guy who regularly plucks beer and wine bottles out of our bins on pickup day interpreted that as an invitation to open our side gate and wheel his cart into our backyard. He has scared our six-year-old twins half to death twice already, and my wife’s planning to call the cops next time. I think her reaction is extreme. Sure, he rants a bit sometimes, but he seems harmless, and I don’t want to cut him off from a reliable, albeit measly, source of income. What should we do?
—Conflicted NIMBYist, Parkdale
Toronto’s tradition of curbside trade—in bottles, TVs and glute-firming gadgets purchased from infomercials—is a quaint and effective system built on an implied code: invade my trash bin but not my privacy. Your wife is correct—this guy shouldn’t be in your backyard—but you’re right, too: he’s proven himself innocuous, and his trespass was prompted by your change to the routine. Instead of calling the cops, put the bottles somewhere at the front of the house and lock your gate for a few weeks. The city’s recycling program is complicated enough without the police.
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11 thoughts on “Dear Urban Diplomat: The local vagrant is plucking bottles from inside our gate. Should I call the cops?”
You can thank Dalton McGuinty for turning blue boxes into cash boxes for vagrants and other unsavoury characters. I can’t even go The Beer Store anymore without having to run the gauntlet of unkempt “entrepreneurs” returning my, I mean, their bottles.
If someone is stupid enough or just lazy enough not to take the empties to the beer store, let someone else take them.
Oh there’s a good idea. Take extra time out of your day to cater to the homeless guy who is breaking in to your backyard and endangering your children. What a joke – call the police.
Anyone who would breach your property by opening your backyard gate and entering your backyard, clearly has no regard for the law or is so far gone that they live in an alternate reality. If the latter is the case, your wife has every right to be concerned as, next thing you know, your back door will be the Rabbit Hole for the March Hare.
Wow! I can’t believe how mean-spirited web commenters can be! The guy is just trying to eek out a living of sorts and in his world, opening a gate to take something a homeowner has clearly discarded may not be the greatest crime. Give the guy a break. I separate out my returnable liquor bottles and beer cans to give to my local bottle and can man, G., when I see him. I’ve gotten to know the guy and he’s a really decent man and interesting to talk to. We have a symbiotic relationship of sorts — he makes some cash while saving me from having to take all my empties back to the beer store and I can keep check of how much I drink by how many empties I’ve got saved up for him. Sometimes I don’t see him for a few weeks and it gets a bit out of hand. In fact, I haven’t seen him in quite awhile and I’m a bit worried about him (and how many empties I’ve got). If you read this, pal, I need your help — I’ve got a whole trainload of empties for you! And as for the rest of you, have a glass of Aussie merlot and lighten up.
If you don’t want pigeons in your back yard then stop putting out bird food… Why not separate out the returnables from your recycling and return them yourself (make it a job for your twins – it can become their allowance money). Or leave them in a box on the outside of your gate to make your eco-hobo’s job easier. The police officers who specialize in trespassing are pretty swamped these days with 911 calls from Mayor Ford, so if you want to keep throwing out money, then I would suggest a lock on the gate and a no trespassing sign. If the bottle bandit continues to B&E, then I would suggest netting him and releasing him in the wilds of Vaughn.
911 calls from Mayor Ford! LOL.
This guy isn’t breaking and entering. He is trespassing, but barely.
Don’t be so reactionary and mean-spirited. Picking recycling might be borderline trespassing, but it’s a grey area–and police will do little about it. What’s more concerning is how alarmist both your thinking, and his wife’s is when a solution is very simple.
I would say that you’re not really catering to the picker, so much as you are creating the right set of circumstances so he doesn’t have to trespass and invade your privacy.
Any separating, moving of the bins, is for the homeowner’s piece of mind, and not for the picker. Get real, the police have better things to do in Parkdale.
Their Urban Diplomat is right–by moving your recycling to the back of the house, you have basically invited this guy into your private backyard.
If you don’t want someone scavenging through your recycling, Here are a few simple solutions:
1. Leave your bin in the FRONT, you live in Parkdale, and a fence is going to stop anyone. (Least amount of effort needed)
2. Reuse an old plastic bag, and put returnables beside your recycling in the front. He’ll be out of your hair, and probably won’t bother picking through the blue bin. (Requires slightly more effort)
3. Don’t leave your returnables in it! Bring them back to the Beer Store. (Requires the most effort)
If moving your bin, or separating them is too much of a burden, and your wife still doesn’t want pickers to go through your recycling, MOVE. Clearly your area is too ‘urban’ for her liking.
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