Family's encounter with recycling raider sparks debate – is it theft?

·3-min read

A Sydney resident’s run-in with a recycling raider on her property has sparked a heated debate about whether he was stealing. 

The introduction of container refund schemes in Australia has been a great money-saver initiative for kids but it’s also given rise to a new neighbourhood nuisance – the bin diver.

Close up of someone recycling a plastic bottle at a collection point in NSW. Source: Facebook/Return and Earn
Residents have complained of bin raiders rummaging through their recycling since the introduction of container deposit schemes. Source: Facebook/Return and Earn

People have been caught rummaging through residential bins for refundable containers, with reports some are earning up to $2000 a week through the NSW Return and Earn program, which pays 10 cents for every can and bottle.

A homeowner in Sydney’s south has lashed out online after catching a bin-diver take it a step too far on Sunday.

“Was awoken this morning 21/11/21 to our dog barking, only to find this elderly man had entered our property (via the front gate) and was caught red handed helping himself to my son's recycle can collection, located up the side of our house,” the post to a Mortdale community Facebook page began.

A blurred photo of an elderly bin-diver who slipped after being caught in the act of taking recycling from a property. Source: Facebook
A homeowner in Sydney’s south has vented on social media after catching an elderly bin-diver on her property. Source: Facebook

The woman’s husband, who she described as “very large”, came outside after hearing the commotion and attempted to grab the bag of recycling from the man.

“Ol’ mate simply wouldn’t let go and slipped. My husband actually helped him up, concerned that an old man may have hurt himself,” the post continued.

The woman accused the man of being a “trespasser” who was of “sound mind”.

“If you know of this man, please let him know that trespassing on other people's properties is not only illegal, but may end up terribly for him, should a man of a different disposition to my hubby (or an aggressive dog) decide to take matters into their own hand!!” she warned.

Neighbours clash over recycling rummager 

Her rant clearly struck a chord with others in the area who went head-to-head over whether the man was in the wrong. 

“Serves him right,” wrote one man.

Another called him a “thief” and demanded he be “locked up”.

“No excuse to steal” and “turn the hose on him,” posted others.

Screenshot of a Facebook post from a Mortdale resident complaining about a run-in with a bin-diver and some of the comments in response. Source: Facebook
Residents went head-to-head over the issue, with some slamming it as "trespassing" while others called for compassion. Source: Facebook

Some came to the defence of the elderly bin raider, arguing there was “no need” to post about the ordeal.

“Try compassion,” someone commented.

Another accused the woman of not being “very nice”.

“He might have needed it to eat or drink,” they wrote.

Another said: “I do not condone theft but if someone is stealing veggies out of my garden, my first response is to find out why.”

One person wrote they would have given him the cans along with a $10 note.

“I am so blessed and feel for the old and elderly that may be having a hard time getting money for food.”

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