A Tampa man is fuming that a person can take his aluminum cans and get away with it

TAMPA - William Pearson noticed his aluminum cans disappearing before the recycling trucks came around. So he decided to investigate.

What Pearson discovered left him fuming.

As a former pro-wrestler, Pearson said he can't help but feel he's a protector for his neighborhood.

So, when his aluminum cans kept disappearing from his recycle bin before they were picked up by the city, he stayed up around the clock and watched his yard with a camera.

"We got people riding through here stealing from our city. Stealing from me," said Pearson.

Pearson said he confronted a man on a bicycle with bags full of cans. He made him wait in his yard and called Tampa police.

But the answer he received from responding officers left him bewildered. They said anything on the curb is considered abandoned property and there was nothing they could do.

"It makes me feel mad, really mad. Why are we spending all this money?" said Pearson.

The city gets paid for each ton of recyclables turned in with the hope the program eventually pays for itself. City officials admit if everyone took cans, it could hurt the bottom line.

"I feel the city needs to work with something here," said Pearson.

But Pearson's complaint seems to be a rare one. The police and public works department said they haven't heard of people complaining-there's nothing in the record books.

But, his call to police had his long time neighbors reacting

"That is ridiculous, that makes no sense at all," said Odessa Junior.

Junior has lived on Liberty Street for 27 years. She said she's never heard of such a thing. Joe Cardenas hasn't either. He was working on his cousin's house

"Are you kidding me over some cans! Ridiculous. Ridiculous. That guy should ashamed of himself," said Cardenas.

Now, their sympathy is directed to the guy on the bike.

"The poor people need anything they can get, any type of stuff so they can get something to eat," said Cardenas.

"If anybody needs any cans or bottles please come here, I will leave them out on the street for you," said Junior.

Pearson said they are missing the point.

"They can ask me, I will give it to them but do not take my cans," said Pearson.
Since Pearson can't prevent people taking his cans,  he's now taking them to a recycling center.

In some cities it is a crime to take anything out of recycle bins..

But Tampa officials said there are no plans right now to look into passing any laws because it hasn't been an issue.


While taking someone's trash won't land you in jail , it is against a city ordinance, apparently a little-known or enforced ordinance, according to Andrea Davis with the Tampa Police Departrment.

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