MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- After you put out your recycling bin, thieves may be stealing your aluminum cans.
The city of Minneapolis said it's losing $135,000 a year because of thefts from recycling bins.
Minneapolis said the problem exploded during the economic downturn, and the city hopes a new single sort system -- and warnings on the bins -- will help people realize it is a crime.
Ron Corbett has been picking up recycling in Minneapolis for 15 years, and said he's seen thieves walking brazenly away toting large bags.
Barb Johnson, the Minneapolis City Council President, said "scrappers know what the routes are and so they go ahead of recycling day, so they go through the recycling before the recyclers pick it up."
Johnson said it's gotten worse in recent years.
"I think with the downturn in the economy there are people who are making a living by driving up and down our alleys and picking up metal from behind garages," she said.
The thefts are a growing problem in many communities, but are especially bad in Minneapolis where many recycling bins are left in back alleys.
The back alleys shield thieves from being spotted by passing pedestrians or motorists.
"You are not supposed to be in someone's alley unless you live there or you have business there," Johnson said. "Stealing recycling is a crime. It's a misdemeanor."
Minneapolis is also working on passing tougher penalties for anyone caught with large amounts of scrap metals in their yard. Right now, there is no penalty or fine.
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