Have you ever walked outside on trash day, only to find your trusty garbage receptacle missing in action? After all, it’s not exactly a highly coveted item like a luxury car or a designer handbag. But as odd as it may seem, trash can theft is a bizarre reality that leaves many people mystified and frustrated.
Why Would Someone Steal a Trash Can?
The concept of trash can theft might be hard for some to fathom, but it can become a serious issue in neighborhoods. Thieves are known to steal items that may not seem to have much value to the average citizen, and in some cases, this includes trash cans.
There are various possibilities for a Trash Can getting stolen but two strongest explanations behind these thefts are:
One type of criminal could be the identity thief, who goes through your trash to find personal documents and information that can be used to steal your identity, possibly resulting in credit fraud or other financial damage.
Another type of thief might simply see value in the trash can itself. Large trash cans can be worth over $100, which might be appealing to a thief looking for a quick profit.
In some cases, the stolen cans might even end up being sold on the black market at a lower price. 
#1- Identity Thefts
In the digital age, it’s easy to forget that identity theft can still take place through traditional means, such as rummaging through discarded mail and documents in trash cans.
Americans receive a staggering amount of mail containing personal information, offering a veritable treasure trove of data for identity thieves.
By simply being careless with the disposal of sensitive documents, people may inadvertently open the door for criminals to commit identity theft.
The thieves might be after the contents of these garbage carts, which they can rifle through for identity theft.
Unshredded documents containing personal information can provide criminals enough data to open credit card accounts, apply for loans, and even clone credit cards using bank account information.
What to do?
Residents can protect themselves from dumpster-diving thieves by being more vigilant with their mail disposal.
Shredding sensitive documents is one effective way to ensure that personal information isn’t at risk of falling into the wrong hands.
At-home techniques such as using a punch-hole machine or even damaging the documents by soaking them in water can also help to limit the chances of identity theft. 
#2- Selling The Trash Can
Another theory focuses on the value of the trash can itself.
Some large garbage carts can cost over $100, making them a target for thieves who may either want the cart for personal use or for resale on the black market at a lower price.
This can potentially create a market demand for stolen trash cans.
The stolen carts are not just any ordinary trash cans but are the property of the garbage companies. This means that the companies are the ones who suffer the loss and wish to prosecute the thieves.
What to do?
To prevent such incidents, residents should ensure that their trash cans are brought back near their homes after garbage pick-up. Additionally, keeping an eye out for suspicious activity and reporting such incidents to the local authorities can help curb this theft trend.
#3- Need for a Replacement
One possible reason is that the person who stole the trash can may be in desperate need of a replacement.
Perhaps their own trash can has been damaged or lost, and they are unable to afford a new one.
Stealing someone else’s trash can could, in their mind, provide a quick and easy solution to their problem.
In some cases, the theft of a trash can might be the result of a simple mistake.
A neighbor or passerby may have unintentionally removed the wrong trash can after collection day, either due to confusion about which trash can belongs to whom or because the individual was in a hurry and not paying close attention.
In these instances, the stolen trash can may eventually be returned once the mistake is realized.
#5- Miscellaneous Reasons
Other explanations for the mysterious disappearance of a trash can may be that the thieves intend to use them for a purpose other than waste disposal.
People have been known to use stolen trash cans for storing items, creating makeshift shelters, or even as an impromptu container for composting organic material.
The versatility of a typical trash can makes it appealing to those who might require a sturdy, spacious, and portable storage option.
What to do if Your Trash Can Gets Stolen
It’s important to note that garbage companies are typically not responsible for the replacement of lost or stolen trash cans.
If your trash can goes missing, it’s wise to inform your local waste management company and inquire about the process for obtaining a new one.
In some cases, you may be required to purchase a new trash can from the waste management company, while in others, you might be able to obtain one at a discounted rate or free of charge.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your missing trash can, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it and take preventive measures to ensure that it remains safe and secure on your property. 
Tips for avoiding Theft
It is essential to be mindful of what you throw away. Thieves can steal your identity by digging through your trash for documents containing personal information.
Shred any documents with sensitive details before disposing of them in your garbage can.
Consider investing in surveillance equipment, such as security cameras, to monitor and protect your property.
Display signs notifying potential thieves that they are being watched.
Exterior lights with dusk-to-dawn or motion sensor settings can also help deter criminal activity on your property.