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Human scavengers raid Highgate wheelie bins: Fears of identity theft

Christopher Riley. Picture: Nigel Sutton Christopher Riley. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Friday, May 2, 2014
1:00 PM

Bin raiders rifling through rubbish bags in Highgate spark fears of identity fraud

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A woman was caught raiding someone's bin in Milton AvenueA woman was caught raiding someone's bin in Milton Avenue

Angry residents in The Miltons are worried they could soon become victims of identify theft after spotting people rifling through their wheelie bins and spilling rubbish all over the pavements.

This woman, pictured below, was caught rummaging through a wheelie bin in Milton Avenue by Paul Dubois, 43, who quickly snapped a photo of her in action.

His partner, Christopher Riley, chairman of The Miltons Residents’ Association, said raiders have been visiting The Miltons for about two years – ever since Haringey Council introduced fortnightly rubbish collections.

Mr Riley, 45, of Milton Avenue, said: “What is a nuisance is that the bins are spilling over when they are ripping through them, and if they don’t find anything, the bins are left spilling out onto the pavement. Then we have foxes going into the bins because they’re exposed.

“People are concerned that these people are stealing documents and we are worried about identify theft, but I get the impression they are looking for scrap metal.”

It is thought that vans drop-off the raiders at the top of Milton Park for a day’s foraging.

They come well equipped for rummaging as they bring along shopping trolleys to carry around their loot.

One resident spotted an elderly lady and her three grandchildren rummaging through wheelie bins.

Another told Mr Riley that she caught someone taking a pair of shoes that “not even a charity shop would want”.

“I think they look impoverished, it’s definitely from need,” said Mr Riley.

“They tend to get quite aggressive if you challenge them; we do have an issue with that.

“Last year in Langdon Park Road, somebody was going through a bin in a front garden and [the property owner] came and shouted at them, and then they became quite aggressive.

“It’s a cultural difference as well. They don’t understand why we have an issue with it – it’s a difference of education in that sense.”

Scrap metal vans are often spied circling the streets on a near hourly basis, taking any metal left at the side of wheelie bins, such as old bed posts.

Mr Riley believes the problem began in March 2012 when Haringey Council changed its weekly rubbish collections to fortnightly.

The changes left residents in The Miltons with two huge wheelie bins outside every house – which some likened to a “Dalek invasion”.

A council spokesman said: “Taking waste from bins is an offence, as is littering on the street. Where we witness this kind of activity, we will take appropriate action. We would advise residents to always ensure that any personal information is destroyed appropriately before being disposed of.”

If bins are left on the pavement, it is not a criminal offence to rummage through them.

A spokesman for Haringey police advised residents to shred their paperwork before throwing it away to protect against identity theft.

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