Three arrested in connection to recycling theft in NYC

Three arrested in connection to NYC recycling theft ring

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Three men were arrested in connection to a recycling theft ring targeting major retailers and transfer stations in New York and New Jersey.

New York City's Business Integrity Commission (BIC) announced the arrest of the men in connection with a sophisticated recycling theft ring that hit major retailers in New Jersey and sold stolen cardboard at transfer stations in New Jersey and New York.

Neil Devito of Old Bridge, New Jersey and John Nichols of South Amboy, New Jersey have been charged with four separate felony charges.  Vincenzo Grasso of Annadale, New Jersey was arrested on a parole violation.  BIC, New York State Parole and the New Jersey State Police "jointly conducted the arrests," according to the press release.

A BIC-led investigation followed the men who — authorities allege — were posing as legal waste haulers under the name "Metro Paper, Inc." and selling an estimated $103,000-worth of stolen cardboard between April 2012 and July 2012. It is unclear how much cardboard was stolen and sold outside of that time frame.

The BIC says trucks from a Devito-owned company, Straightline Trucking, were used in the scheme that targeted retailers, including Walmart and Sam’s Club.

The arrests come at a time when New York City is also struggling with numerous incidences of scavenging from residential recycling set-outs.

New York City's particular problem with recycling theft, or scavenging, was highlighted in a 2012 Resource Recycling feature by Robert Lange, Director of the New York City Department of Sanitation's Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling. Noting the density of New York City, which can enable thieves to steal valuable recyclables incognito, as well as the nuances of the scavenger landscape, Lange encouraged readers to recognize the importance of supporting the workers and companies legally authorized to haul the scrap in the first place. On the recent arrests, Lange told Resource Recycling: "We still have a long way to go in curbing the high rate of thievery of residential recyclables, which is not as well organized but equally impacting on our bottom line. It is a delicate line our elected officials must walk as they try to curb scavenging and its shadow economy while not appearing to be unsympathetic to the plight of some New York City's less fortunate citizens who may have taken up scavenging to supplement limited financial resources."

The arrests were praised by the waste hauling industry in New York. The National Solid Wastes Management Association says its members lose between $8 million and $10 million each year due to cardboard theft.

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