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Wheelie Bin Security is Essential - Here’s Why

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Wheelie bins are now a feature of our lives but sadly they are also often used in criminal exploits. In our latest post we highlight the need for wheelie bin security.

Almost everybody now uses wheelie bins. Our ubiquitous plastic wheelie bins are capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions, the effects of UV radiation, chemicals and continuous daily use and abuse. Their reinforced wheels make them highly manoeuvrable and thankfully they are easy to clean. They are also available in a wide range of colours, often used to make it easy to separate various recyclable elements from our rubbish. But wheelie bins are also often targeted by criminals.

How Criminals Use Wheelie Bins

Understanding how criminals use wheelie bins helps us appreciate how and why we need to pay attention to wheelie bin security. Here are some examples of how criminals exploit our wheelie bins.

Wheelie Bin Theft

Wheelie bins have become attractive targets for criminals who either hope to find valuables (such as identify information) in the rubbish or resell the bins for cash. Wheelie bins can cost anything from £30 all the way up to £200, depending on the size. Inevitably, this means there is a black market for cheap, stolen bins.

Anti Social Behaviour and Vandalism

Wheelie bins left outdoors can sometimes attract the attention of mindless vandals intent on causing damage. There have been many incidents of anti social behaviour across the UK involving vandals purposely emptying bins, dragging them around and in some cases, setting them on fire.

In one area, wheelie bin vandals reportedly targeted bins left out for collection by connecting them to a vehicle tow bar and racing off at high speed. This mindlessness resulted in the attached bins smashing into parked vehicles causing damage costing many thousands to repair. And residents were left dealing with both the damage caused along with masses of rubbish strewn across their neighbourhood.

Transporting Stolen Goods

Robust, manoeuvrable wheelie bins provide criminals with an ideal way to transport stolen property. There have been many reported incidents of scrap metal theft and roofing material theft in which the criminals used readily available wheelie bins to transport their stolen booty to their getaway vehicles.

In one recent case three criminals broke into a convenience store and filled a commercial wheelie bin with items worth between £2000 and £3000 including cigarettes, food, alcohol and cash.

Concealing and Transporting Murder Victims

There have been multiple cases in which murderers transported their victims in wheelie bins. In 2019 a teenager used a wheelie bin to transport the body of a teaching assistant he had killed as she walked in woods. The young man responsible for this horrendous crime is reported to have gone to exceptional lengths to move and hide his victim’s body.

In another shocking case a dog walker discovered a discarded wheelie bin in a field and reported it to the police. The bin was found to contain the body of a young woman who had not been seen for a month.

Gaining Access to a Property

Police forces throughout the UK encourage people to chain their wheelie bins to brick walls or immovable anchors to prevent criminals from using them to break into properties. Burglars are known to have used wheelie bins as convenient, movable platforms from which they can scale fences and walls or even reach upper-storey windows.

Arson Attacks

Wheelie bin arson is described as a “depressingly common crime”. Bins are sometimes wheeled to other locations where they are set alight putting lives and property at risk.

Wheelie bins are made from high-density polyethylene plastic that can burn at temperatures up to 1000 degrees celsius. And bins are typically located alongside other bins full of flammable rubbish and very close to buildings. Fire brigades routinely face challenging fires  started in wheelie bins.

If you take a look at almost any local news publication you can see reports of wheelie bin arson attacks. In Sheffield, for example, fire crews recently had to deal with 16 bins on fire and all started deliberately. Sadly, incidents like this are very common and can sometimes lead to serious property damage.

Identity Theft

While identify theft isn’t as simple to carry out as it used to be it is still a serious risk. Cyber criminals are known to sift through rubbish in recycling wheelie bins to find bills, bank statements and paperwork from which they’re able to elicit enough personal details to steal a victims identity. Birthday cards, for example, give away a persons birth date and utility bills are commonly required as proof of address and identity when setting up various accounts.

A recent report determined that almost 20 million households regularly deposit personal, sensitive information in their bins that could potentially be used by criminals who use stolen identities to obtain cash and set up accounts from which they rack up enormous debts.

Checking if Someone’s at Home

If a wheelie bin is not promptly retrieved from the street it can immediately tell a would-be burglar the occupier isn’t at home. Similarly, if everyone in a road puts their bins out but one property doesn’t this can potentially indicate the occupiers are away.

wheelie bin locks
Lock Your Wheelie Bins

 

How to Protect Your Wheelie Bin from Criminals

Having highlighted many of the most common ways in which criminals make use of wheelie bins let’s look at practical ways to protect them and remain safe.

Police forces along with the fire and rescue service make some valuable recommendations including:

  • Store wheelie bins somewhere secure and out of sight, especially at night. Ideally in a  locked environment.
  • Only put wheelie bins out for collection on rubbish collection days and always retrieve them as soon as possible.
  • Don’t leave wheelie bins in the street overnight.
  • Securely attach wheelie bins to brick walls or other immovable anchor points.
  • Don’t locate wheelie bins where they might be used as an access platform.
  • Always consider the risk of fire, wherever a wheelie bin is located.
  • Never place anything hot in wheelie bins, such as hot embers, burning wood or ash tray contents.
  • Mark and label the wheelie bin to clearly indicate ownership.
  • Never overfill wheelie bins.
  • Never put batteries in wheelie bin rubbish.
  • Pay attention to any discarded personal information - including birthday and anniversary cards.

Most of these recommendations are common sense, but are nevertheless often overlooked.  Secure wheelie bin storage can often be challenging, especially in densely populated locations. But simply chaining wheelie bins together, in a group, immediately makes them far less appealing to criminals, arsonists and vandals.

Being a good neighbour, by retrieving their bins from the street after a collection, is another valuable recommendation that prevents criminals from recognising when someone`s not at home.

And discarding documents from which personal details can be readily determined is something many of us will have done. It is worth reminding everyone in a household to keep their personal details secure and always shred any documents before putting them in the bin.

It`s also vitally important to consider the risk of fire. If a wheelie bin is in the street it`s entirely possible that a passing smoker might innocently put a burning cigarette in the bin that could start a conflagration. And youngsters might put fireworks in the bin for fun. If the bin is close to a home or other flammable materials the fire risk can be very high.

wheelie bin lock with 1 metre chain
Wheelie Bin Lock with 1 Metre Chain

 

Our Reliable Wheelie Bin Lock

Our commercial and domestic wheelie bin locks are exactly what you need to keep your wheelie bins secure and prevent them from being used to set fires and cause mayhem. We offer wheelie bin locks with various chain lengths and can accommodate any chain length requirements.

If you have any questions about wheelie bin security, or if you have any special requirements, remember we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.

This message was added on Thursday 28th March 2024

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