Stalker question of the week: Can I rummage through my neighbour’s garbage bin?

Hello to all my readers, and particularly to those that are stalkers. Great to have you with us. I wish you all the best in your stalk-related endeavours and trust you’ll do it in a mature, safe and non-invasive way, like a kind and gentle stalker should.  This article is written with you in mind, although hopefully we can all learn something from it.

I always find it interesting to see what my neighbours leave out in the garbage area of our apartment building. I know I am weird, but I cannot believe I am alone in having these thoughts and feelings.

I justify it in this way: checking out the stuff my neighbours discard gives me a small insight into the lives of another person or family, and I challenge anyone to say that they are not at least a little curious to see how their neighbours live. For those who live in the suburbs, I’m sure you go through the same thought process on garbage night, when you all dutifully ask your partner to take out the garbage bins ahead of collection in the morning.

So, can you take a look in your neighbour’s bin on garbage night? And if you do, are you breaking the law?

Let’s also take it one step further, because why not. If you find something you like in there, can you take it and keep it?

The answer is that it all depends on how and when you do it.

You can’t go into your neighbour’s house without permission and start rifling through their kitchen garbage bin, for example. That is called ‘break and enter’ and ‘theft’.

However, if they put their bin out on the street on garbage day, and you see a particularly fine piece of semi-eaten fruit or a slightly chipped but relatively unstained coffee mug in there, the law has said on several occasions that your neighbours have shown an intention to discard items in their garbage and hence have given up ownership of those items.

So feel free to have a dig through their bin and take anything you like the look of, if that’s really what you want to do.

Just make sure you’re not trespassing on their land when you do it. Ideally, your neighbours have put their bin out on the public footpath or street, rather than just inside the boundary of their property (most Council’s require the bin to be put on the footpath so the local garbo doesn’t technically trespass on private property when they collect the bin and empty it into their great big truck).

Also, don’t throw your neighbour’s garbage all over the place either when you rummage through it (or tidy it up after you are done). Throwing crap around is probably going to get you done for littering.

Please don’t go crazy in your bin-play though. The bin itself has not been discarded by your neighbours, just what is inside of it. So don’t take their bin. Leave the bin alone. Step away from the bin. No bin. Bin stay. Got it?

Oh, just one more thing, for my stalker readers in particular. If you’re stalking your neighbours, then going through their bin is very good evidence of your stalking behaviour, and unfortunately under our draconian legal system stalking can be (OK, should be and is) a crime. So while you might have a legal right to go through your target’s garbage bin (subject to what I said above), doing so could be used against you in a claim by your neighbour that you are stalking them.

Other things, like following them around everywhere and leaving them very unsubtle love poems on their doorstep will only add to this.

It’s a fine line between following and stalking. Don’t let going through someone’s bin be what causes you to cross the line.

Safe stalking everyone.

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