Mike Shreffler wasn’t thrilled when he found trash dumped on his York County property.
“Someone felt it was OK to illegally dump construction material,” Shreffler said. “I am cleaning up the land and it was disheartening to have somebody come along after you do that work and to throw more trash on the site. I contacted Newberry Township police and fortunately, they did take it seriously.”
“Over the last year, we have had three cases that we have made arrests on,” Newberry police Chief Steve Lutz said.
Lutz says illegal trash dumping happens often, especially in rural areas like Newberry Township.
“Whether you throw it out the window of your car or you deposit your waste knowingly on someone’s land, it is a violation of the law. It just depends if it falls under the vehicle code or the crimes code,” he said.
The pile of trash left on Shreffler’s property would fall under Section 6501 of the crimes code. The person or person who dumped the trash could be facing a fine and jail time.
Lutz says there is also a new penalty.
“In addition to the penalties that have been increased, legislation actually mandates community service. They would have to do five hours to 30 hours of community service. That would have to be completed within six months of conviction,” he said.
Under the law, it is also illegal to throw trash into someone else’s trash can or dumpster. A post on Crimewatch shows several pictures of people caught dumping a large amount of trash, carpet and carpet padding in a dumpster they were not allowed to use. Susquehanna Township police are trying to identify them.
“That is illegal dumping,” Lutz said. “People and businesses pay to have their garbage hauled away, not yours.”
Police found clues left in the mess dumped on Shreffler’s property. A receipt with a name on it and some custom cans of paint led investigators to a contractor who bought the construction materials.
“Police contacted the contractor who purchased the material, which led them to the homeowner who had work done at his site and then some people that the homeowner contracted with to dispose of the material,” Shreffler said.
“The homeowner did make a contractual agreement. He paid money to dispose of the material,” said Lutz.
Police filed charges in the case. Luckily, the homeowner had proof he paid someone else to remove the trash from his property.
“If you are going to pay an individual to get rid of your trash, make sure you have it written down who the individual was so that if that individual you paid does dump it illegally, you have something to give the authorities. You can also write a check which would give you a paper record,” Lutz said.
If you litter while driving your car, it falls under Section 3709 of the vehicle code. Every year when you sign your registration, you are also signing that you acknowledge you have “received notice of the provisions of Section 3709 of the Vehicle Code. It is in fine print under the line where you sign your name on your vehicle registration.
“Most people don’t know they are signing for that,” Lutz said. “They don’t even know that it’s there. Throwing a cigarette out the window is littering.”