Is it Legal to Dig through Someone Else’s Trash in Colorado?
In certain neighborhoods, it's fairly common, though unfavorable, to find somebody digging through your trash cans. It's definitely annoying to find someone going through your trash, but is it illegal?
Well, in Colorado, it's not technically illegal, though there are numerous instances where if you're found dumpster diving, you're likely breaking at least one other law.
Is Dumpster Diving Legal in Colorado?
As mentioned above, the act of dumpster diving itself isn't technically illegal in Colorado. In fact, a landmark case in 1988 legalized dumpster diving across the country.
However, if someone's dumpster diving, there's a good chance they're trespassing on private property as well, which is illegal. To expand on that, if caught dumpster diving on private property without permission, that person will not only be permanently banned from that property but can also be charged with disorderly conduct.
So what if a trash receptacle is on public property? First of all, if the trash has any kind of deterrent such as a lock on it, it's illegal to rummage through it without permission. This also applies to any space that has a "no trespassing" sign.
The most important thing to consider when determining whether or not someone is breaking the law when going through your trash is whether or not the dumpster diver is trespassing.
So, while dumpster diving technically isn't illegal in Colorado, if the trash receptacle is on private property it is illegal unless you have permission. Furthermore, if a dumpster is on public property but is locked up or signs are posted nearby, it's also considered to be trespassing, which is illegal.