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Scrapping with the scrappy scrap collector

November 27, 2014

Disappointed “treasure hunter”. The metal he tried to take was bolted down.

Today I foolishly stupidly entered into a confrontation with another of the many people who go through the back alleys of Fairview looking for things of value.

He wasn’t a binner; he wasn’t looking for returnable beverage containers. Neither was he a dumpster diver. Nor was he homeless. He might have been a scrap collector or a flea marketeer but most certainly he was an opportunist.

Grabbing anything not nailed down isn’t stealing…is it?

This fellow had passed me in his silver-grey four-door and then stopped the car in the middle of the next block. Thinking he might have been a car binner — competing with me for returnable beverage containers — I dashed ahead to catch up with him.

If I caught him binning with his car he was at least going to get an earful about cutting in front of me in the alley.

Instead I caught him trying to grab a piece of metal off of someone’s fence. Fortunately the metal was firmly bolted down. He was still tugging at it when I got off my bike to talk to him,

I told him that as far as I was concerned he was clearly trying to steal private property.

He simply told me to “mind my own fucking business!”

I explained to him that stopping theft was everyone’s business and again told him what he was trying to do was stealing.

He countered by telling me that I was the one who stealing — by  taking the returnable beverage containers out of the blue bins and dumpsters. And he repeated the bit about minding my own business — several times.

Unfortunately, I overreacted and let my temper off the leash more than I should have.

I know better but I did it anyway.

My weak defence for the lapse would be my dislike for thieves in general and the hypocrisy of someone like this who appears willing to judge a thing right if they can get away with it.

I should add that this is the second time at this same property that I’ve caught one of these “treasure hunters” willing to take obvious private property. The last time it was aluminum construction scaffolding.

On top of the insults and such, we both took pictures. In the future I should also offer to trade Twitter usernames so my opponent and I can continue to hack at each other with angry tweets; that seems to be the thing these days. Click the image to enlarge it.

  1. Thanks Stanley. I appreciate what you did.
    You’re another reason why I love my ‘hood.


  2. Slowcrow permalink

    Yes, I’ve often wondered if ‘homelessness’ disqualified a person from Community Policing service work. The hands-on ‘beat’ of an alert binner would seem an invaluable resource to draw upon. But then its pointed out to me that they ARE the thieves, sometimes apparently transporting hundreds of feet of stolen Tells cable, for miles uphill, on only their (stolen) bicycles. Maybe that can curb those extreme views, and bring some appreciation for the work done, and possible side benefits, that only non-car people can contribute.


    • Haha! Within two month of becoming homeless in 2004 I got a part-time job in a used bookstore on Cambie St., between Hastings and Water St, or as I heard one person describe it — “between Gastown and drugtown.”

      The Starbucks at Cambie and Water had a patio enclosed by low wrought-iron posts and thick chain — until one particular morning. I asked why they removed the ironwork. They didn’t, a store manager explained. It had been stolen overnight.

      Not the work of hobos with shopping carts. More like people with trucks and tools.

      But there are homeless people who steal and there are binners who will steal onto people’s properties and thieves who use the pretense of binning as cover for their stealing.

      Gardeners watch their garden for signs of weeds. All residents should watch their neighbourhoods for signs of trouble.

      Yesterday I mentioned my story of the dodgy treasure hunter to another binner who then told me how an older resident recently called the police on him, thinking he had stolen the bike he was cannibalizing for parts. In fact the bike had been abandoned in place for over a year and a restaurant had finally cut the frame to get it off their property. The binner had fished it out of the restaurant’s dumpster with permission.

      However the older resident remembered seeing the bike locked up all winter and assumed the worst.

      The binner had no problem proving he wasn’t a thief but he was spitting mad and had been telling the old guy to “mind his own business”.

      I suggested the binner see it from the resident’s point of view and the binner agreed that he’d want neighbours who were that vigilant about his bike.

      I’ve been similarly inconvenience but I can see nothing for it but to somehow try and be less suspicious-looking.


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