The dumpster behind the Salvation Army Thrift Store on Rancier Avenue in Killeen is still a problem for local residents and store managers alike.
Scott Charping, who lives in an apartment behind the thrift store with his family, has been fighting to stop this issue for over nine months.
“It’s a magnet out here and everybody knows what’s going on,” said Charping. “It’s like clockwork ... as soon as they shut that door there are people out there.”
The dumpster attracts people who will dump their own garbage illegally, as well as dumpster divers looking for discarded goods to take home.
This daily occurrence leaves garbage and debris in the area around the dumpster, as well as the drainage ditch that runs into Nolan Creek, left for others to pick up.
Charping has proposed that the dumpster be equipped with a locking lid, or that a fence should be erected around the perimeter of the dumpster to keep people out.
“We made the recommendation that they (the Salvation Army) look into a lid and that they consider an enclosure” but the Salvation Army would need to find a lid through a third-party vendor because of the type of dumpster they have, said David Olson, Killeen’s executive director of public works.
The dumpster was moved farther from the drainage ditch in mid-April and toward the front of the building to help eliminate the amount of garbage that found its way into the channel, he said.
In an email to the Salvation Army and Killeen city officials that was provided to the Herald, Charping offered to install motion sensor flood lights and dummy security cameras at no cost to the store to help deter the dumpster diving activity.
“We have real cameras up there,” said Salvation Army Maj. David Craddock, who oversees the thrift store. “We don’t need these fake cameras.”
People will throw the garbage out of the dumpster or dump their own garbage in broad daylight, said Craddock, who explained that he has witnessed people doing so on Sunday afternoons in broad daylight via their security cameras. Although license plate numbers are hard to see, he said they will be willing to prosecute for theft and vandalism if perpetrators can be identified.
“Nobody makes an effort to call and report it,” he said. “They can see it from their apartments.”
“They don’t have cameras out there,” said Charping when asked about the surveillance cameras. “And if they do, they’re very well hidden.”
“I’ve never called the police. I don’t think it’s my responsibility. A lot of these people that go out there are decent people,” he said, after telling a story about a mother he met in her mid-30s looking for shoes for her children.
“If I see someone out there fighting or doing sexual acts, I would not hesitate to call the police ... I don’t like getting people in trouble, it’s just my nature.”
The Salvation Army has started looking at bids for construction of a fence to enclose the dumpster, said Craddock, but he is unsure about the effectiveness of such a fence.
“Even if we have the dumpster fenced in, I don’t see this issue going away,” he said. “We have talked at length with the folks at waste management ... they report that it’s a problem citywide,” in other places like the Texas Thrift Store and even Goodwill. “We are looking at other alternatives” that will “hopefully at least slow it down.”
Charping continues to look for solutions with the city and the Salvation Army and has even gone out with his family to clean up the mess themselves, he said.
“I’ve been praying on it, and I think at some point, it will resolve itself.”