TAMPA, Fla. — The City of Tampa has a new warning for those who want a quick and easy way to dispose of junk: be careful who you hire.
Tampa's Neighborhood Enhancement Division, previously known as code enforcement, has seen more and more people hiring others on Facebook to dump their junk for a discounted fee. But instead of driving it to the dump, they are leaving it in alleys and empty lots across Tampa.
"You don't know who you're dealing with," said Sal Ruggiero, head of the Neighborhood Enhancement Division. "That's a danger in and of itself."
Now, Neighborhood Enhancement has teamed up with Tampa Police to form a new taskforce designed to not only clean up more areas of the city, but go after offenders.
The team has completed training and has been up and running for about a month, city leaders said.
Ruggiero said they've already completed several busts at regular dump sites, including empty lots and alleys in East Tampa and West Tampa. He said before the city was mainly focused on clean-up but now can more aggressively go after offenders with the new team.
They are also planting surveillance cameras and gathering security camera video from residents to catch those in the act. Those videos can be used to track license plate numbers and track regular offenders so they can face charges.
Ruggiero wants to warn people not to trust those who offer to pick up your junk for a small fee. He said you can be held responsible if the city discovers the trash is yours.
That's what happened to a restaurant owner in Tampa who hired someone off of Facebook to dispose of his garbage.
"They didn't get the ticket," Ruggiero said. "The restaurant owner got the ticket. So you're responsible for whomever you hire."
Getting caught can mean up to $500 in fines or even jail time depending on the severity of the offense.
You can dispose of junk for free at the McKay Bay Dump with just a drivers license showing residency.