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Trash diving soon outlawed
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The city is in the process of outlawing the practice of scavenging through garbage cans set at the curb on refuse collection days or face a $500 fine or six months in jail.

On Monday evening the Ceres City Council approved the first reading and adoption of a new ordinance restricting those who go through another person's garbage can.

The city is also poised to make it a misdemeanor to rummage through commercial dumpsters, a practice commonly referred to as "dumpster diving."

The current Ceres Municipal Code does not allow anyone to take recyclables stored on private property or in toters set at the curb for collection. The city ordinance specifically states that recyclables set at the curb for collection are the property of the garbage collector, Bertolotti Disposal. However, the city has no laws on the books which forbids persons from rummaging through garbage containers to glean various items.

Senior Planner Tom Westbrook said the cities of Turlock and Modesto have code sections dealing with those who dig into trash cans from a standpoint of preventing a public nuisance and a hazard.

"We don't want waste stirring around," said Westbrook.

The only exception is that the homeowner may go through their own can, or if someone has permission to glean from the can. Police are also exempt if they have a search warrant.

Vice Mayor Ken Lane brought up the matter of trash can rummaging at a recent council meeting, noting how uncomfortable it makes him and others feel. Lane also noted that trash is commonly spilled during the process. In speaking to police officers about the problem, Lane was told police have no teeth to bite into the problem. Lane said the proposed ordinance would "put a little bit of teeth in it."