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The City of Cerritos’ three barrel trash system requires residents to separate regular trash, yard waste and recyclables. This system benefits the environment and lessens the volume of items destined for landfills. Unfortunately, the recyclable barrels also attract individuals who pilfer for self-gain.

The Cerritos Sheriff’s Station/Community Safety Center periodically receives complaints of late-night trash rummaging in various parts of the City on the night before trash pick-up day.

Cerritos Municipal Code Section 6.08.070 (d) reads: “No person, other than the owner thereof, his agents or employees or an officer or employee of this city or any person holding a contract with this city for the collection or disposal of refuse, his agents or employees authorized for such purposes, shall tamper or meddle with any refuse or rubbish container or the contents thereof, or remove the contents of any container or remove any container, from the location where the same shall have been placed by the owner thereof or his agent.”

Once your trash cans have been left on the curb, the contents belong to the City’s trash hauler, CalMet Services. Anyone pilfering trash is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be subject to arrest or a citation.

Residents who leave items out for scheduled pickups by non-profit groups should clearly mark the bag or item for pickup by the designated organization. Pickup from non-profit groups should be scheduled for a specific time of day, if possible. Some groups are willing to call a resident’s home when they are a short distance away from the location so the items do not have to be left unattended for a lengthy period of time.

If you observe someone stealing items from a curbside trash can or a resident’s property, call the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station at (562) 860-0044. It is important to provide a description of the suspect and vehicle, if applicable. Residents may want to consider placing all three barrels or just their recyclable barrel out by 7 a.m. on the morning of trash collection day. This reduces the timeframe for pilfering and drastically lowers the chances of it occurring.