The Lucrative World of Cardboard Theft

John Metcalfe writes on the lucrative world of cardboard theft at The Atlantic Cities:

The thieves…drive in trucks rented from U-Haul and Penske or even unmarked Econolines. They cruise slowly down the street manhandling bales of cardboard into the vehicles. Or they’ll dodge behind a large store like Costco to retrieve spoils left outside by the Dumpsters.

It may sound like a tedious way to earn a living, but it’s quite suitable for folks who like a good workout and fast payouts. “You rent a van and drive down Second Avenue [in Manhattan] or Atlantic in Brooklyn, you pick up a ton and a half of cardboard and get paid 150 bucks for it,” says Biderman. “Do that twice a night and you’re doing OK.”

Sometimes, as in the case with three men busted recently in New Jersey, recyclers will allegedly form a front business (“Metro Paper Inc.”) to support their cardboard ring. A favored tactic of this particular heist squad, according to the authorities, was to back their vehicles up to stores while pretending to be licensed haulers. With nobody on the loading docks apparently questioning their authority, they’re suspected to have made off with 900 tons of cardboard in just three months this year, a weight that represents $103,000 in free money.

The cardboard theft isn’t centered just in New York… There have been incidents in Virginia, Connecticut, Georgia, and Florida.

Read the comments for some controversy regarding the article.

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