Tampa cracks down on illegal trash-dumping

Tossing old furniture, tires or trash on the side of the roadway is not only an eyesore, it's a crime. The city of Tampa is cracking down on illegal dumping through an Environmental Crime Unit.

A resident recorded cellphone video of two men casually dumping trash and furniture from a black Ford pickup truck on the side of an east Tampa residential street. The resident shared the video with the city.

"It's two guys that don't have any respect for a neighborhood. They just come in, and they're just dumping whatever they can," said Sal Ruggiero, manager of Tampa Code Enforcement.

According to Ruggiero, city officials see the worst cases of illegal dumping in the Sulphur Springs and Grant Park neighborhoods.

The problem has worsened since Hurricane Irma, when many residents were looking to get rid of water-damaged furniture and non-vegetative storm debris.

"A lot of that is people hiring people off of Craigslist to pick up your debris, and a lot of times, they're not bringing it to the dump. They're bringing it to the side of the road," said Ruggiero.

The Environment Crime Unit has been developed by the East Tampa Revitalization Community Partnership. They're mounting surveillance cameras throughout East Tampa in dumping hot spots to catch offenders in the act. Depending on the weight of the trash dumped, offenders could face a misdemeanor or a felony charge.

Tampa detectives are now searching for the men caught dumping. The license plate on their pickup truck read: HNK-J10. 

Anyone who recognizes them or witnesses illegal dumping can call the Tampa police non-emergency number at (813) 231-6130.  

After the police department has responded, call the Department of Solid Waste & Environmental Program Management at (813) 348-1111, Extension 3 for collection of the debris if it is on a city right of way. 

If the illegal dumping occurred on private property, report it to a Solid Waste inspector at (813) 274-5545.

City officials encourage residents to record video of the illegal dumping in progress and a picture of the offender's tag number.