Operation: Dump-and-Run

Article excerpt

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to prevent late-night and weekend dumpers from targeting your industrial property.

It's no laughing matter. Chronic dumping is a crime. And a major headache for property managers.

As landfill costs continue to rise and regulations on waste get stricter, illegal dumping will pose an even greater nuisance to industrial properties. Insignificant it may seem, but some veteran junkers can go to great lengths to unload on your property, costing you thousands in debris removal.

But don't just get down in the dumps about it. Review the following cases for tips to keep you ahead of stealthy dumpers.

You've been briefed. Now the fate of the property rests in your hands.

CASE NO. FD-301

South-Side Fly Dumpers

"When I managed some properties on the South Side of Chicago, I had a big problem with what I call 'fly dumpers,' people who dump at late hours or on weekends," says Louis Colletto, CPM[R], of Morgan Realty Partners in Burr Ridge, Ill. "Most of my fly-dumping occurred on the weekends. There's a pattern, and some dump on a regular basis."

Know the Enemy. There are dumpers, and then there are dumpers, says Colletto. "There are those who are professional dumpers, and there are occasional ones. Professional dumpers are more aggressive and persistent. Most of it is related to construction debris."

Colletto has received so much foreign debris during his five years of managing a large portfolio of industrial properties that he can break down dumpers into three basic categories, along with the approximate monthly removal costs:

Heavy Construction: $1,000 to $2,000. "I'd get a lot of construction debris. They break out a driveway, and they have all this broken concrete. Instead of going to pay at a legitimate dump site, they fly dump it. For a load of gravel or concrete, you have to get someone who has a Bobcat, and that can run you easily $1,000 each time it happens."

Home and Commercial Re-modelling: $1,000. "It is often the contractor who does renovation jobs that dumps and runs, leaving behind all kinds of dry wall materials and wood scraps."

Landscaping: $100 to $200 for 10 30-gallon plastic bags. "A lot of places now, you can't dispose of landscaping materials by normal garbage-collecting procedures. You have to put it in special biodegradable bags. So I'd get a lot of grass clippings in plastic bags."

The worst case Colletto ever encountered was when his landscape contractor discovered the scene of what appeared to be some kind of Satanic ritual. There were spray-painted markings on the wall, beer bottles, and skinned dog carcasses buried by the building. While this type of dumping is decidedly offensive, it is also an unusual circumstance.

Counter-Counter Measures. "It's a cat-and-mouse thing: I make a move to prevent it, they make a counter move," says Colletto.

When persistent dumpers bequeath their debris to you every month, or even every other month, it begins to add up. If you have a building that is near open fields or undeveloped areas or that has little traffic around at night or on weekends, your property is fair game for fly dumpers who want to pull up a truck and unload.

Colletto had a number of such buildings that developed a chronic case of dumping. He called the police.

"I told them I had a pattern of fly-dumping, but I never got anywhere with that." On the South Side, dumpers are to cops what minnows are to marlin men. Cops have bigger fish to fry.

"Basically, you're on your own. Unless you have a monitoring or security alarm system, which most industrial properties don't have, you have to catch them in the act, which is really difficult, or you have to do something to prevent them from driving to the areas where they typically dump."

Colletto started counterattacking by putting up barricades that could prevent someone from driving a vehicle onto the property. …