Reminder: Recycling Bins Are For Recycling, Not Crime

In two separate instances in the last 24 hours, Seattle police have found thieves using our city’s hallowed recycling bins not to return appropriately rinsed bottles, cans and paper products to whence they came, but to commit crimes against an unsuspecting populace.

The most recent breach of recycling bin rectitude unfolded around 4:45 this morning, when Officer Tre Smith was in the 200 block of 1st Avenue South and noticed a man in a trenchcoat standing next to a pile of liquor bottles on the sidewalk, outside a closed bar.

The man walked off, and Officer Smith approached the front door of the business and discovered it was unlocked. He then heard a sanitation worker whistle for his attention down the street. The worker told Officer Smith he needed assistance in dealing with a man, who had just dragged a large blue recycling can, filled with bottles of alcohol, down a nearby alleyway, blocking the path of the worker’s garbage truck.

When he walked over to the alley, the officer found the trenchcoat-wearing man he’d seen on the street minutes earlier outside the closed bar. After detaining the 55-year-old man, a group of officers checked inside the bar and found “huge gaps” between the rows of bottles on the saloon’s shelves. Police contacted bar’s owners and returned the recycling bin, which contained about 40 bottles of alcohol.

Police found security footage showing the suspect prying open the the front door of the bar, collecting bottles, bank cards and other items, and then fleeing. Officers also discovered the suspect was carrying 42 bank cards, 4 ID cards, all belonging to other people, at the time of his arrest. He was booked into the King County Jail for possession of stolen property.

In another incident hours earlier, Officer Garret Hay was searching the North Precinct for a wanted 37-year-old warrant suspect when he found the man dragging a recycling bin down the block near 1st Avenue Northeast and Northeast 145th Street.

Officer Hay arrested the man on a property destruction warrant and checked inside the bin, where he found a replica “Lord of the Rings sword” within.

With their suspicions raised by the man’s attempts to sheathe the awesome power of a sword born in the raging forges of Middle Earth inside a simple plastic recycling can, officers dug further into the bin, uncovering an iPad, purses, liquor and a camera, all taken in a recent break-in. Officers also found the man was carrying debit and credit cards belonging to other people, and are now investigating him for a series of other crimes in the North Precinct.

Police booked the man for possession of stolen property and his warrant.