'Black market' of wheelie bins as thousands reported stolen in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:59 03 December 2019
Archant Norfolk © 2015
More than 3,500 wheelie bins were stolen in Norfolk in the last three years, with some families resorting to social media to avoid replacement charges.
A waste management agency said it follows a national trend of bins being stolen and then sold online for less than the amount charged by councils for replacement bins.
Figures from a Freedom of Information request show 1,123 bins were stolen between January and October this year - a third more than in 2017 when 871 bins were reported as stolen. Another 1,524 were swiped in 2018 and they cost between £20 and £40 to replace.
Since introducing charges in the last 10 years, the region's councils received nearly £634,500 in fees for new and replacement bins.
Very few of the thefts are reported to police, with figures showing just six were reported between January and October.
Charges for replacement bins has prompted some people to take to social media to bypass council fees.
One Facebook post from a Norwich woman in October 2018 said: "Does someone have a spare black wheelie bin or one for sale cheap - someone has stole ours."
In response, another woman commented: "I had someone take a black bin, it was completely full, and council won't replace it for you for free."
In June this year, another Facebook user from Sprowston posted: "[I] had my brown wheelie bin stolen from Wroxham Road today, our neighbours opposite spotted two people taking it and shouted but they calmly walked off with it."
Mark Hall, director of BusinessWaste.co.uk, said there was a UK-wide black market for domestic bins. "Metal bins are scrapped for cash and you also get people burning plastic bins to get high," he said. "There are reports of kids taking bins from empty houses while people are on holiday to make quick cash."
Norwich City Council has received £187,700 since introducing a £40 charge for new and replacement bins in July 2016.
A council spokesman said: "This includes bins that developers have to buy from us when they build a property and they've always had to pay."
While Breckland Council does not charge for replacement bins, North Norfolk, South Norfolk and Broadland councils charge to replace those that are damaged by the resident.
Great Yarmouth council, meanwhile, made £52,200 since 2015, but said it did not charge for replacement bins as a result of a crime if it is reported to police.
West Norfolk had the fewest thefts, with only eight reports in the last three years.
A West Norfolk council spokesman said: "We only charge when it can be proved that the landlord or resident has been negligent in the storage of the bin - allowing it to be stolen."