Picking Up Furniture From The Curb Could Cost You Thousands

Walking the sidewalks of just about any city — especially one like New York where apartment turnover is at a high level — you’re likely to find at least one or two chairs, shelves, mirrors, dressers, etc., that are in passable, if not pristine, condition. But be warned before you go putting that side table in the back of a cab — it could end up costing you a lot of money.

CBS2 in NY has the story of a man in Queens who spotted a discarded air-conditioner on the curb that has ultimately cost him — and his 73-year-old aunt — $2,000 each.

“As far as I knew it was a piece of garbage sitting on the curb,” says the guy. “There was a lady here. I asked the lady can I take the air conditioner. She said go ahead take it. It’s garbage.”

But what he didn’t know was that once trash meets curb, it belongs to the city. So when a sanitation officer down the street spotted the man loading the A/C unit into a car, not only was he fined $2,000 but the car was impounded and the car’s owner — the aforementioned elderly aunt — was fined the same amount.

Says the aunt: “I said what is this and she said well we have to serve you with this. You’re the owner of the car and it says I gave him permission.”

According to the city’s Department of Sanitation, it’s fine to grab furniture from the curb; just don’t do it in a motor vehicle.

Writes CBS2:

Recycling is a revenue source for the city and sanitation officials said the law was “designed to deter organized rings of recycling thefts” that cost the city more than $300,000 a year.

Another source of revenue is apparently the fine itself. In 2009, the sanitation department issued 280 summonses for violators and impounded 136 vehicles. At $2,000 per violation, that’s a nice chunk of change in the city’s pocket.

NYC Man Fined $2,000 For Taking Discarded Garbage [WBCSTV via Gothamist]