While dumpster diving, I have torn up a dozen or so check books, even though the accounts were probly already emptied. It often happens when I find old family photo albums and losta’ stuff that came from an elderly person who had probly died and their heirs had cleaned out the dead persons stuff and chucked most of it. Other check books were in the dumpster with a bunch of cheap, worn out crap that showed me the person who had the checks was not doing so well financially. Their stuff had probably been chucked out by an ex-roommate or lover whom the check owner had been living with until they had screwed up too many times on paying their half of the rent and/or had gotten themselves put in jail or run outa’ town by drug dealers they owed money to. It's just that way in my area; hard core, actively using alcohol and drug addicts walk by my front door everyday and are living in apartments here. They are not the majority, but are very visible because they walk round lookin for hustles and highs.
When the long time owner of the old shoe repair shop in my town passed away, the shop was closed forever. The shoe shop man was a nice guy. My family had been customers of his for decades. I had walked past that shop 100s of times, and when the door was open during warm weather he and I had often exchanged genteel greetings. When the shop was being cleaned out, a dumpster in the alley behind it got filled with all kinds of shoe repair tools, small equipment, and supplies; and I made out good d-divin it. In that load, I found the recently deceased shop owner's Army discharge papers and social security info. I knew that his sister was still taking care of selling off the big equipment in there, so I took the shoe shop man’s pertinent personal records and went over and found her there; she was ecstatic that I returned the paperwork; she needed it to be compensated for her brother’s funeral expenses etc.. (Dumpster diver to the rescue!)
She asked me what size shoe I wear and offered me a nice pair of cowboy boots that had not been picked up by the customer who owned them; the boots were in a bag full of good repaired footwear that had been left in the shop for many months, and she offered me any of them that I might want. I looked but said none in there for me, but the weekly soup kitchen is on in the church basement across the street, and they can use ‘um. She said to go ahead and take them, because they had all been left in the shop well past 90 days and it was her last day to ever be in there. It felt good to return that paperwork than make a donation to the down and outers. And I did real well in the dumpster too.
Although most people freak out when they see dumpster divers at work and think that we are a menace to society, we d-divers are basically honest fellow citizens in this society. Anytime that we can return any personal papers which were obviously thrown out by accident, we should. If we can, we should destroy any personal or business papers that would cause another person problems. Who ever threw the paperwork out did not realize that a dumpster diver would find it. And we normal d-divers know that some scumbag d-diver may come along later and take that paperwork for all the wrong reasons.
I have never found any wallets or pocket books in dumpsters that had ID cards in them along with all the other regular stuff that a person carries with them everyday. But other d-divers have, and they have sometimes turned the items into the owner or the police. If it looks like a criminal had stolen the items then taken out the cash, or that it had been placed in the dumpster by accident, a d-diver is pretty well obligated to go outa’ their way to turn it in.
Sometimes people, especially elderly individuals, can accidentally scoop up their wallet or pocketbook with the trash in their car or their home and throw it out. If that happens, don’t take out any cash that may be in there, just be honest.
What goes around comes around, and bad karma can get ya’ when you least expect.
If we find whole wallets or pocket books full of all a person's IDs etc., anywhere at all, then we honestly have no other choice but to turn it in to the owner or the cops.
david robert crews