BARTOW, Fla. - Trash dumping is the number one environmental crime in the state of Florida, but a recently discovered load of dumped tires points to a new trend.
"Getting felony dumpers. That's what I do," explained Polk County Sheriff's Detective Mike Ison. "It's a big problem everywhere. Its not just Polk County. It's all over."
Ison got a call from Stronghold Self-Storage in Bartow about a unit filled with about 600 tires, left for months after the renter stopped paying.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office investigates several calls a week about dumped tires.
"This week alone I've already had four," Det. Ison said. "It's carelessness and it's greed."
And it's only Wednesday, but this load of tires points to a new trend in an old crime.
Instead of the typical roadside or orange grove dump, this suspect rented a storage unit. A first for Polk County.
"They load it full and never come back," Det. Ison said. "A little smarter on how they're disposing of them so they don't get caught red-handed dumping them in a grove. Now, they're doing it under concealment at night."
The cost of tire disposal has tripled in the last few years. To properly get rid of the tires in the storage unit, the bill would add up to about $1,000. The storage unit start-up cost was just $20.
"It costs money to dispose of tires. A lot of money," explained Sgt. Howard Martin.
Now the facility owner has to foot the bill, and the Sheriff's Office has to foot already strapped resources.
"We can't just not do anything about it," Sgt. Martin said. "So, we're just going to have to continue to do it."
Since this discovery, calls have come in from Hernando and Pasco Counties reporting the same issue.
Anyone with information should call their local Sheriff's Office.
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