This is an excerpt from the City of Dayton Nextdoor page but it applies to any city including Riverside.
What can Dayton residents do if scrappers are rummaging in their trash for scrap metal?
Waste materials are considered public property in the eyes of the law. Once your trash items go out to the curb for pick-up, they no longer belong to you. Until they get picked up by trash or recycling collection, they don’t even belong to the City or municipality that is responsible for pick-up. Therefore, it is not illegal for scrappers to go through the trash left at the curb or alleyway.
The Supreme Court of the United States confirmed this in the court case of The State of California v. Greenwood in 1988. In its ruling, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment didn’t prohibit this activity and declared that it was “common knowledge” that trash left at a curbside was “readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public.”
Because of this ruling, once you roll your bin to the curb or place your garbage bags on the curb or alleyway for pickup, you no longer have an expectation of privacy when it comes to your trash. However, it’s never legal to go through trash bins while they’re sitting on private property due to trespassing laws. If scrappers are entering your private property to rummage through your trash, call the police at 937-333-COPS.
Typically, problem criminal scrappers are organized groups taking copper pipes from vacant houses or employees who are taking metal from their employers. Along with state-mandated scrap yard regulations such as “no buy” lists and ID requirements for scrappers, the scrap yards here in the Dayton area have been great partners in fighting illegal scrapping. They have worked closely with the Dayton Police Metal Theft Detectives to solve scrapping cases.
So, when you’re setting out your trash, remember:
1) When you’re throwing refuse away, especially sensitive documents, remember that it’s possible that your trash could be searched.
2) If possible, citizens should move their bins so that they aren’t visible from the street. Prevent unwanted rummaging by placing trash bins on your property until your scheduled collection time.
3) If you catch someone trespassing on your property, call the Dayton Police Department at 937-333-COPS.