Thieves Inflicting Paper Cut$ On NYC

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trash-garbageCity sanitation cops are following a paper trail to bust a new breed of thieves.

Sly scrap bandits have taken to swiping bags of paper and cardboard left on curbs for the city’s Sanitation Department, following a dramatic rise in the value of the recyclable material, officials said.

Mixed paper has more than doubled in price over the past two years, going from around $40 a ton to as high as $120.

That huge price increase has been fueled by dwindling amounts of paper ending up in the recycling bin, as consumers switch to electronic forms of communication.

“When you approach this value, it becomes a market for unsavory characters,” said Hank Levin, whose Pratt Industries on Staten Island handles half the city’s curb-side paper pickup.

“[Thieves] can take a couple of tons off of the street in a night and get about $250.”

Cops with the city’s Department of Sanitation this year have already impounded 49 vehicles – mostly vans and small, rented moving trucks – for allegedly being used to pilfer bags of mixed paper off the streets.

That’s up from last year, when only 40 vehicles were impounded for similar crimes over 12 months.

In previous years – before the bull market for mixed paper – the number of vehicles impounded for use in stealing recyclable paper was in the single digits.

Authorities are not about to write off the rash of thefts. “The paper that should rightfully be going to our recyclers is wrongfully being stolen,” said Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.

Because the city collects so much mixed paper in mandatory recycling programs, those curb-side bags add up to millions.

“The city is losing $10 per ton in revenue for each ton of paper stolen off our streets,” said Doherty.

In fiscal year 2011, Sanitation pocketed more than $1.5 million for recyclables from Pratt Industries alone.

That number could skyrocket in the coming years.

Even as tech-savvy consumers have ditched paper, the demand for recycled paper has grown.

That demand is particularly strong in other countries, where much of New York’s leftovers are sent.

Its a niche market for garbage-rifling thieves who show no signs of slowing down.

Just last Wednesday, Alphonso Porter, 19, was found cruising the trendy Meatpacking District in a Penske truck for mixed paper, cops said.

He was busted after allegedly loading a cubic yard of paper – somewhere between 35 and 80 pounds – into the truck. His seized truck was brimming with stolen paper, authorities said.

The young man got a $2,000 summons for theft of recycling, cops said.

It’s not just paper that crooks are scouring the streets for.

Earlier this month, there was a rash of manhole-cover thefts, apparently for scrap metal.

“Manhole bandit” Andrew Modica allegedly stole more than two dozen of the covers in Brooklyn and Queens to feed his heroin addiction.

The 46-year-old sold the covers for as much as $48 a pop, cops said.

Last week, The Post also reported on the increase in metal-recycling thefts, with trash-pickers looting curbs for items like old dishwashers.

Some 46 percent of appliances put out for recycling in 2011 were not at the curb when the city went to pick them up, apparently swiped by thieves, officials said.

{NY Post/ Newscenter}


  1. If there is a law against stealing recyclables, why are the (mostly) chinese able to collect the bottles & cans without worrying about getting a ticket?

  2. don’t our tax dollars pay for trash collection. If that’s the case the city is double dipping by taxing us and then selling it to recyclers

  3. if i put my recycle out by the curb, who says that makes it belong automatically to the dept of sanitation???


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