Some Evanston officials think the city has a problem with private scavengers who pick up metal trash from alleys for free.


Some Evanston officials think the city has a problem with private scavengers who pick up metal trash from alleys for free.

Suzette Eggleston, the city’s streets and sanitation superintendent, told the Chicago Tribune that they’re cutting into the revenue the city gets from charging residents $25 a pop for special trash pickups.

She also claims the scavengers are taking items from alleys that residents didn’t mean to have taken away.

The Trib quotes Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, as saying scavengers have been “breaking the law” by taking cans from recycling bins in the alleys.

Rainey also says the trucks frequently appear to be dangerously overloaded.

Police in Skokie told the Tribune officers sometimes ticket haulers for overloading vehicles or for lacking insurance or registration on the trucks.

Eggleston says she’s looking into the possibility of imposing a licensing fee on the scavengers.

But scrap dealers who buy what the scavengers pickup say the current system provides a valuable free service to the community.

Original story

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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12 Comments

  1. no harm
    Give these guys a break. I agree that their trucks are sometime dangerously overloaded and should be ticketed for such an offense.

    But from the condition of most of their vehicles I would assume that they are barely scrapeing by and trying to make a buck wherever they can. Does the City really think they can afford licensing fees?

    I have had many experiences where they have taken metal parts and pieces that I was about to throw in the trash container, and I was happy to give it to them. These guys really do provide a nice service that most residents do not see.

    Have I mentioned issuing more traffic violations to raise funds? Plenty of moving violations going on around town every day.

    1. Issuing more traffic violations
      The point you raise about issueing more tickets is good. However, the revenue the city gets from tickets is very small. With Stroger’s lunacy, the county board raised court fees to $135, of which the city receives $0 … The city gets a small portion from the fine, which the judges have now reduced drastically due to the high court fees. In a lot of cases, the fines have been lowered to $25 … and the city only gets a small portion of that … then there is the issue regarding equipment violations. If the person is not charged with a moving violation, all the person needs to do is to bring in proof that they have fixed the issue (headlight, broken windshield, etc.) and the judge dismisses the case on “complaince” and no fines or court fees are assessed. So, unless the court system changes, the amount of tickets written does not add more than a few dollars to the revenue stream. The place to vioce your concern is not with the city, but with the county.

  2. Sometimes they go too far
    While getting big items moved for free is nice, sometimes these characters will make a huge mess for relatively little scrap. We put an old piece of furniture out for bulk trash day last year… they shattered the glass piece and pried apart the rest for a piece of metal, leaving us a pile of broken glass and splintered wood to clean up.

  3. How about the city picking it up for free?
    If these guys can make a buck picking up my metal scrap for free, why should I have to pay the city $25 for the same privilege?

  4. Go easy on the scavengers
    My hat is off to the scavengers, those guys slowly driving decrepit trucks up and down the alleys and removing our cast-off metal objects. They were recycling long before it became fashionable. Years back we got to know one of them in our old neighborhood, and once hired him to remove some outdated pieces of office equipment, which turned out to be a win-win for all concerned.

    I doubt the City is making very much money on the $25 bulk pickups, by the time you factor in salaries and landfill tipping fees.

    I have a bigger problem with people stealing aluminum cans out of recycling bins, as I know the proceeds from aluminum recycling help pay for the recycling program.

    A still bigger problem is disreputable contractors who use neighbors’ trash containers to illegally dispose of debris from remodelling. On several occasions I’ve gone to take out my trash, and found my city container full of hacked-up cabinetry from one of the mansions across the alley.

  5. Scavengers- Lets use common sense
    All in all, I believe they do more good than harm. Like anything, common sense should prevail. There are plenty of laws that can control unwanted behavior form scavengers in our alleys. Our police should ticket any truck that does not meet safety standards for carrying loads on public streets. Scavengers are subject to laws for trespassing, should a resident find them on their property and not in the alley. That being said, as residents, we just have to take extra care about what we want removed or not removed by placing junk items in the alley and non-junk items inside your fence, property line or garage. As far as glass, I break it myself first in the garbage can- then a child, neighbor, or scavenger won’t break it causing your inconveience or safety issue. Mabye the city could put an ordinace in place that scavenging is not allowed on weekends for additional control while providing residents some privacy and time to sort their items on their time off. Thanks, Dan Mennemeyer

  6. More ways to nickle/dime Evanston taxpayers.
    This issue is over some poor people who are trying to pickup few bucks by picking up other people’s garbage to make a living. Let’s discourage these people from doing this! They should go into drug dealing and stealing! Probably much more profitable than collecting trash!

    City is not very good in dealing with drug dealers (as so many are out there spreading), but they will handle those horrible scavangers that costs special pickup fees that city can be collecting from its taxpayers!

    City can try to license them to discourage them from doing this and then charge the citizen to pay $25 special pick up fee which I am sure they are itching to raise to $30 soon.

    City already charges property owner for recycling whether they recycle or not. This essentially means we pay fees for ‘recycling’ to city whether we like it or not. Whether you recycle or not, you still pay this fee with your water bill.

    The city then makes more revenue off of stuff that people leave out for recycling, as the items they collect for recycling becomes revenue for the city.

    This essentially equates into double taxation on recycling?!?!

    So I guess this makes taking cans out of people’s recycling bin against the law. How dare these horrible scavangers take away this double taxation! Go Alderman Rainey! Go after these Scavangers! Please add more to city payroll to staff someone to be in charge of licensing and enforcing the scavangers!

    1. City nickel/diming
      You’re totally right on the City nickeling and diming everything but what is really a problem…

      This City REFUSES to admit there is a drug/gang problem. Evanston is the busiest city north of Chicago when it comes to drugs and gangs, but they refuse to give resources to the appropriate handlers. Instead, they’ll write C-tickets to law abiding citizens and then throw the hammer at them, that’s Ann Rainey and her crew (City Counsel) for ya!

      The scavengers are only trying to make extra $$$ and the City just sees this as an opportunity to cash in.

      1. Agree on gang/drug problems but Rainey is not the problem
        Ann Rainey is the only member of the City Council who recognizes that we have a gang and drug problem in this town. Virtually everyone else on the previous City Council stuck their fingers in their ears, hummed a happy tune and closed their eyes to imagine Evanston’s image as a hip and funky college town full of oh-so-many liberal do gooders. It’s a fantasy, folks, and the new City Council needs to act on reality.

        Look at the recent crime in Rainey’s 8th Ward. Two guys from the West Side of Chicago ambushed, attacked, robbed then stole the car of a pizza delivery guy in the well-lit early evening. They dragged him a short distance as they took off in his car. They then drove dangerously through the neighborhood as they tried to escape. Crashed the car and it later burst into flames and was destroyed.

        The delivery guy has more-than-trivial injuries (and, of course, he must deal with the memories of this horrible and frightening ordeal). So many more people could have been seriously hurt. Fast-thinking neighbors called police promptly and they should be commended.

        Why do you suppose two guys are hanging out in a park at Brummel and Clyde in the early evening of a weekday? My guess — they buy their drugs here and they robbed the pizza delivery guy to get cash for their next drug purchase.

        When are we going to wake up in this town and realize that it ain’t Mayberry? We have real safety and quality of life issues in this town. Given the frequency of violent crime in the southeast corner of the 8th Ward, we need a much more focused police presence there, along with more cameras to help us identify the many criminals who hang out there.

  7. Driving Slowly?
    I don’t know where you people live, but in my neighborhood they drive anything but slowly down the alleys. They (and many other non-scavenger vehicles) drive fast to the end of the alley, not stopping, and just put on their horn expecting the rest of the world to get out of their way. Plus, I agree with the previous comments the trucks are dangerously over-loaded more often than not.

  8. Why?
    Ya know, who the heck really cares. These folks are trying to make a living and in doing so I think are contributing a great service to all of us.

    Tax these folks… why? Can the city just let these folks be? Can we all just let them be. Co exist? So ridiculous.

  9. Scavener pick up
    I can’t believe that the City would even consider this. It just makes me think that they really are not at all trying to help the residents of Evanston but instead want to take any advantage of making a few more bucks. I think it is great that the scaveners come by and I would give them anything that I had and to my benefit I would not have to pay and to their benefit they make a little money. I think it is working just great this way right now.

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