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Grass clippings, food containers among trash dropped off almost daily at Milwaukee thrift store

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Posted at 5:29 AM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 09:10:48-04

MILWAUKEE  — Nearly every day now, outside of Milwaukee's Saint Vincent de Paul thrift store on Lincoln Avenue, workers find a large pile of trash: Broken furniture, empty food containers, old mattresses, box springs, tires, and even grass clippings.

"Nothing is sellable here. There's a box of Cheerios down here. It's just pure garbage," said Mark Dimeo, the store manager.

"We do appreciate the generosity of our donors, but this is not a donation, this is pure trash," he told the I-Team as he showed us the large pile.

When the store is closed, someone illegally dumps the garbage and leaves the workers at the thrift store with the clean-up job.

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"It's been happening for years, but lately it's really increased. It's almost become a daily thing, whereas before it would be once in a while. Now it's almost every day," said Dimeo.

Even if there were items you can sell in this pile, the policy here is, anything dropped off during off-hours gets tossed.

"I don't know if the pandemic has anything to do with it, other than people had more time to go through their things maybe," Dimeo said.

Regardless of the reason for the uptick in trash dumps, it's costing the store more money to throw it all out.

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"We've already had to double our trash pick up and now at the rate it's going we might have to increase it even more," he said.

In the nine months from October 2020 to June of 2021, St. Vincent de Paul's Lincoln Avenue location reports spending $2,568.01 on trash pick-up.

The donation center says that money could have paid for more than a thousand meals in the community or provide 21 new beds for those who needed a place to sleep.

No dumping signs are posted on the store building, but that hasn't helped. So now, the thrift store is taking other actions.

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"We spent a lot of money to upgrade our security camera system to try and catch people," Dimeo said.

"It's not something you'd give to your mother or your grandmother, you probably don't want to donate it to us," he added.

Milwaukee police told the I-Team, if you're caught illegal dumping in the city of Milwaukee, it will cost you $1,956.

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A large box truck filled with trash would cost you $90 at the dump to drop off. Click here to see other fees at the Milwaukee drop-off centers.

To report illegal dumping in Milwaukee, click here.

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