Who Owns the Property in a Skip?

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One man's trash is another man's treasure. If something has caught your eye in someone else's skip can you take it? What is the legality of taking waste out of a skip? Surely we can assume if they have thrown it in a skip they do not want it anymore. 

In this article we look at what the law says in relation to taking things from a skip and who the property belongs too.

Is it Illegal to Take Things out of a Skip?

Technically, anything that is placed in a skip is the property and responsibility of the person who has hired the skip. Therefore anything taken from the skip could be considered theft under the theft act 1968. In real terms things placed in a skip are normally put there to be disposed of. Therefore taking certain items out of the skip for reuse seems like fair game. This is known as "Skip Diving" or "Dumpster Diving". 

It may also be argued that anything placed in the skip is now under the ownership of the waste management company. You will only really get into trouble if the skip owner presses charges, but there is little enforcement of this. 

Is the Skip on Private Land?

If a skip is placed on private land such as a driveway, there are more things to consider. Fundamentally to take anything from the skip would require you to trespass on someone's land to get to it. Trespassing is itself not a criminal offence but the police can be called and is more trouble then it is worth. 

Ask the Skip Owner

The easiest option if you fancy something from someone else's skip is go and ask permission. Do not assume it is not wanted anymore. Knock on the door and say what you want to take. Asking the skip hirer will stop any unnecessary tension, both parties getting what they want. 

Safety and Skip Diving

Please be aware skips can be filled with all sorts of waste. It may not be described as hazardous waste but it could still do some harm. There could be sharp corners, rusty nails and shattered glass to name a few.

Wear protective clothing and use protective equipment when taking items from the skip. If an item is heavy ask someone to assist you. You may want some of the discarded items but you do not want to get hurt in the process.

If the skip is placed on a public road or street be careful with flowing traffic. Make sure you are highly visible to reduce the chances of getting hit by any cars. Make sure you have safe access to the skip. Public roads can be dangerous so be careful!.

How to Stop Skip Diving?

If you are a skip owner and have placed the skip on a public land and you are adamant no one will take anything from the skip. Here are some things to prevent people from taking things from the skip: 

  • Hire a Lockable Skip

  • Hire an enclosed Skip

  • Cover the Skip with tarpaulin

  • Place the Skip in a heavily lit area

  • Place the Skip by CCTV Cameras

  • Display a notice "Do not take from this skip"

If you catch people taking stuff from your skip report it to the local council or local authority. If you want to take some stuff from a skip the best things to do is ask the owner. This will save yourself the trouble of getting accused of stealing and any ground for someone to press charges.

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Author: James Duncan

Date: 10/24/2022

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