Kelly Narovich, residential driver for Michiana Recyling & Disposal, picks up a yellow bag full of recyclables Wednesday afternoon. The company's owner says thieves are stealing the bags and scrapping the contents. Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Thieves target yellow recycle bags

Published 3:42pm Friday, July 27, 2012

The bright yellow color of the Michiana Recycling & Disposal Services bags make them hard to miss sitting by the roadside.

That hasn’t kept them from coming up missing.

Henry Valkema, owner of Michiana Recycling & Disposal, which runs the yellow bag recycling service in Niles, said someone is stealing the bags before his trucks are able to pick them up.

Valkema estimates more than a thousand bags full of recyclables have been taken over the course of the past year. These thieves, he said, are more than likely scrapping the contents for cash.

The yellow bag recycling service is provided free to Michiana Recycling & Disposal’s garbage service customers.

“We need the recycle material back to help recoup the cost of our bags, facilities and labor,” Valkema said. “Ultimately these people are driving our costs up.

“Additionally, this is not just a problem for us. Other waste haulers … in other cities have had similar issues.”

Valkema is offering one free year of garbage service to anyone reporting information leading to the arrest of a person stealing his company’s yellow bags full of recyclables.

“We need license plate of the vehicle, make and model and a description of the person,” he said.

Valkema said he believes the thefts occur in the early morning hours. He began putting flyers about the thefts in billing statements last month.

Valkema said one person was identified last month thanks to a tip from a customer. The case is being handled by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, Valkema said.

“Hopefully, the word gets out, we get some arrests and maybe it will stop,” he said.

People with tips can call Michiana Recycling at (269) 684-0900.

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