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Thefts of businesses’ dumpsters investigated

Stolen dumpsters were found on a property at an industrial park at 58 Pulaski St. in Peabody, where Pinto Recycling has an office. The trash receptacles are worth more than $100,000. Stolen dumpsters were found on a property at an industrial park at 58 Pulaski St. in Peabody, where Pinto Recycling has an office. The trash receptacles are worth more than $100,000. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Laura J. Nelson
Globe Correspondent / August 11, 2011

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PEABODY - Multiple state agencies have launched an investigation into the theft of roughly two dozen dumpsters, stolen from more than 10 businesses and stashed in an industrial storage park.

Seriously? Stolen dumpsters?

More than $100,000 worth, to be exact - the heavy-duty kind, big as school buses. The kind that sit on construction sites and driveways.

“I guess if someone really wants something, they’ll do whatever it takes,’’ said Gregory Arnpriester, who said four of his company’s receptacles were recovered from a lot off of Pulaski Street. “And seriously, these are some expensive dumpsters we’re talking about.’’

The case of the missing dumpsters began with an anonymous tip. On Aug. 3, a man who owns a Marshfield waste disposal company got a call from a friend, said Peabody Police Department spokesman Peter Olson. I just found one of your dumpsters, hidden away, the man told his friend.

When the Marshfield man arrived at the site about noon that day, his dumpster was on the back of a truck, serial number filed off, distinctive markings painted over in black.

He called police.

“At first, we thought this was pretty routine,’’ Olson said. “But this is a much larger case than one or two stolen trash cans.’’

Now, the Peabody police are working alongside the Massachusetts State Police, the office of the Massachusetts attorney general, and the Essex district attorney’s office to sniff out suspects.

The 22 to 25 receptacles are worth $4,000 to $5,000 apiece, Olson said. Authorities believe some of the dumpsters may have come from New Hampshire. No suspects have been named, but several people have been contacted by police and all have retained lawyers, Olson said.

Whoever stole the dumpsters planned to absorb them into another fleet of trash bins, Olson said. Because the case remains under investigation, names of the alleged victims have not been released.

The industrial park at 58 Pulaski St. is a warren of car repair shops, equipment parking lots, and storage units. Hudson Teixeria, a mechanic there, said he and his co-workers saw five or six police cars arrive Aug. 3 at Pinto Recycling Inc., inside the complex.

“We saw cops all over the place,’’ Teixeria said. “From the shop, we could see them all arrive, and it looked like they were looking for somebody.’’

Pinto Recycling is a Boston-based recycling and waste management company. Lights were out at their Peabody outpost yesterday, and owner William Pinto could not be reached for comment.

“No, no, we have absolutely nothing to say about that,’’ responded a woman who answered the phone at the number listed for Pinto Recycling.

The complex at 58 Pulaski is run by Wayside Trailers. The company declined comment.

And the fate of the hulking receptacles? The dumpsters have been returned to their rightful owners, Olson said.

When the bins were discovered, their distinctive markings - including welding, paint jobs, and serial numbers - peeked through the black spray paint, so local dumpster moguls identified their cans and those of colleagues with ease.

Arnpriester - who runs Casella Waste Systems in Peabody - recovered four dumpsters.

So, how does someone steal a dumpster without anyone noticing?

Because companies that rent out dumpsters are also responsible for emptying them, someone loading a can onto a truck in broad daylight would not raise suspicion, Olson said. Storage sites tend to be large, unprotected lots. When not in use, Arnpriester’s fleet of dumpsters sits in an open Peabody lot, protected by a gate. Breaking in would not be difficult, he conceded.

A similar case was reported in Cambridge in July, when a North Andover man spotted one of his dumpsters at a construction site, a Cambridge Police Department report said.

“That certainly has an eerie ring of familiarity,’’ Olson said.

The dumpster recovered in Cambridge had been painted brown to disguise it, the police report said, but the can’s original dark gray and serial number were visible through the shoddy paint job.

Laura J. Nelson can be reached at lnelson@globe.com.


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