THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) – In tight economic times, some people have turned to scavenging in dumpsters for clothing and toys for their kids, or even scrap metal to resell for profit.
Steve Kilgore says he got permission to do that at Thomas County's solid waste facility, but code enforcers say that isn't true. They plan to fine anyone they catch breaking the law.
Both Steve and Janice Kilgore are unemployed. Janice says no one is hiring and Steve can't work because of health problems. So, they had to get creative to make ends meet.
"This is the only way we have to pay our bills. This is where my clothes come from. So if you've got no income and can't get help, you've got no other means. It's not like I'm out stealing or selling drugs," Steve said. "You hear everyday on the news to go green, go green. And that's what we're doing. But then we get slapped in the face and we're not the only ones."
In fact, we watched as three separate vehicles stopped by the dumpsters to pick up items. One man even handed his old tools directly to the Kilgores. But code enforcers say they don't want anyone leaving with items they find at dumpster sites because of identity theft and safety risks.
Kilgore says he understands the liability the county would face if someone digging around in one of the dumpsters were to get hurt. But he says it's not even necessary for people to get inside a dumpster by using a hook stick like this to retrieve items.
"We're not bothering anyone or making a mess or doing anything wrong," said Janice Kilgore. "I don't see where they have to right to tell us we can't take the things they're going to just bury at the landfill."
"The man who used to run this said that there was a law about it but they don't enforce it because of the economy and that it helps their landfill," Steve said.
But Thomas County Public Works says that's not true.
"I don't think anyone has told them they can get inside the dumpsters. It's a county ordinance and it's against the law," said Wade Burnett of Thomas County Code Enforcement.
Now the Kilgores say they're left with risking a fine to continue surviving.
Thomas County code enforcers say they hope to reach a compromise in the future that would allow people like the Kilgores to continue scavenging without putting people at risk of getting hurt or having their identity stolen.
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