Tahlequah's Solid Waste crews are dealing with miscreants stealing new refuse carts.
On June 22, Solid Waste Superintendent Chris Armstrong said he was driving to Stilwell when he noticed a city of Tahlequah refuse cart.
"I just happened to drive by and saw a green lid, and we as the city are the only ones with green lids in the surrounding area," Armstrong said. "So it stood out and I went over there and emptied their trash and took the cart."
Armstrong said he asked the homeowners where they got the cart, and they said they didn't know.
"I have a numbering system for all of the carts and addresses they are set at, and the front of them have a barcode," he said. "Residents are leaving their carts out too long and not pulling them back from the curb. So people are going by and just picking them up."
Cherokee County Sheriff's Deputy Kim Novak, who is also an environmental crimes investigator, said there could be stipulations for having a city trash cart out in the county.
"We could probably write them for possession of stolen property if the city wanted to pursuit it. But even then, the courts would have to decide," he said.
However, Armstrong said it would be difficult for a county resident to have a city refuse cart.
"That would make it extremely hard to keep track of and more paperwork for my office," he said. "I would point them in the right direction to order their own."
Each refuse cart has a serial number on the front, and that tracks it down to the physical address, not the homeowner.
"The cart belongs to the house, not the actual individual. It's easier for me to put that cart out, give that cart an address, put in the system, and then go from there," said Armstrong.
If a refuse cart turns up missing, citizens are advised to contact Solid Waste and the cart will be replaced.
"There's a 10-year warranty on the cart. So I'll call it in and get it replaced for you," said Armstrong.
To report a stolen or missing refuse cart, call Tahlequah Solid Waste at 918-931-1957.