KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
July 8, 2022
By Natalie Cook Clark
A Katy resident caught someone on camera going through their trash, apparently looking for personal information. Local authorities say that this type of crime is contributed to credit card fraud and other fraudulent incidents.
A screenshot from a home security camera. Video courtesy of David Russell.
A Katy resident in the Elyson neighborhood caught a suspect on camera rummaging through his trash yesterday morning.
“I would have felt different if it was an obvious large object that they wanted, but they were opening bags of trash,” says David Russell. “In 2020 someone somehow gained access to my drivers license number and opened a couple of credit cards, so when I saw someone going through my trash I got more paranoid than most of my neighbors probably ever would.”
Russell notified Harris County Sheriff’s Office, who confirmed that this activity is illegal. A deputy did come out to meet with him. Trash is not considered “abandoned” until it is picked up by the trash company.
Watch Home Security Video
Video captured the morning of July 7, 2022.
“These types of action do contribute to credit card fraud and other fraudulent incidents,” says Senior Deputy Thomas M Gilliland with Harris County Sheriff’s Office. “We urge residents to keep all personal bills, residential bills and financial statements from household trash.”
Senior Deputy Gilliland recommends that families buy a home shredder or hire a company to shred any personal documents ahead of disposal. Often times local businesses like realtors or community groups will host free shredding day events as well.
“There is an expectation of privacy with our household trash on a property, but the trash can or bin on the curb or roadway has no privacy,” says Senior Deputy Gilliland. Jeff McShan, a spokesperson for Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct 5 says that they haven’t seen many cases lately of “dumpster diving,” but they have had a lot of mail theft.
“Check your mailbox and don’t leave mail there for long periods of time,” says McShan. “Check your credit reports often to make sure you are not a victim.”
He also offered these tips to help residents protect their information.
Shred it - make your information illegible to would-be thieves
Take it with you - take receipts with you and don’t dump in public places like gas stations.
Even if you recycle - make sure personal info is nowhere to be found on these items
Before you part with electronics - by either donating or recycling - make sure your files have been deleted.
David Russell isn’t sure if the person on camera took anything. He put a freeze on his credit through each credit bureau so that no new lines can be opened.
“I know people have a misconception about the legality of trash, but I want to warn my neighbors it is illegal, and remember to protect your personal information,” says Russell.