Is it legal for someone to go through your trash?

Every wednesday, this mexican guy walks in front of my house and takes out everything from my garbage can. he opens up all of the bags and goes through everything on the street. he usually collects all the plastic bottles and such, but i see him going through receipts and other paperwork as well.

Is this legal?? it makes me really uncomfortable, and also my neighbors too. he puts the stuff back in the garbage, but he usually leaves a considerable amount of mess just lying on the sidewalk. what can i do about this??

Not without a search warrant if it's on your property.

If it's on the roadside, perhaps waiting to be collected, then there is nothing you can do about it
dunno but it usually happens when there a hobo in your place
Yes. Garbage is public domain
Probably, when you throw something away you are saying that you don't want it anymore. If throwing away your paperwork makes you uncomfortable, and it should, then you might look into getting a shredder
Yes it actually is... you disguarded it, no longer wanted it.

Cops can use anything obtained in your trash can against you (without a warrant) as long as its not in your house.

Invest in a shredder, they dont cost much. Shred any receipts or bills or important information...
well im pretty sure that a cop cant even do it with a warrent
Yes. The courts have settled the issue: once you have put something in the trash, you have abandoned any title interest in it and it is up for grabs. But the scrounger leaving a mess is not cool; for that, talk to the police.
You better report him and make sure you shred your personal information. He may be trying to steal your identity.
Once you throw it out , people can look through it if they want. Thats y shreaders got very popular. If he leaves a mess take some pictures of him leaving the trash and the police can pick him up for littering, but y would u want to if hes collecting bottles, seems like he needs the cash, and a $500 ticket might ruin his life
it is called dumpster diving
cops and lawers do it all the time
Once you put it out on the street for pick-up, etc., it becomes public property. You need a good shedder for an receipts, etc.
Who cares it's garbage!
unfortunately it's legal. get a paper shredder. You can find a cheap one for around $30.
If it is on the curb then it is considered that you have abandoned it an then anyone can take it. Personally I shred all documents I throw away along with all junk mail. The only thing you could do is run him off but on than that he is probably looking for a way to some extra money by recycling stuff.
Once you put your garbage out, it's fair game. That's one reason why the police take people's garbage--they can get a lot of information, and they don't need a warrant.

It would make me really uncomfortable, too. I wouldn't care about the recyclables, but the papers would really bother me.

You can try calling the local authorities, but I have a nasty feeling they will tell you that it's fair game once you put it out. Probably a safer thing to do is to buy yourself a cross-cut shredder, and shred any papers that have personal or financial information on them. Cross-cut shredders make papers look like confetti, and they aren't expensive like they used to be when first introduced. If you shred stuff, you can have some peace of mind that he isn't getting information on you that he shouldn't have.

Best of luck.
Yes garbage is public domain. Police can take your garbage without a warrant and use the evidence to prosecute. If I were you I would shred any documents you don't want people to see. There are cases of identity theft from people going through garbage.
If your garbage can is in a public area (i.e. curbside) then yes. I suggest you invest in a shredder and use it on any paper documents you don't want seen. We do this with receipts from debit card transactions, anything that has our name and address on it and especially unsolicited credit card applications. You may be able to make a nuisance complaint, especially if there is garbage getting loos and littering the area.
Assuming you are in the U.S. .In most cases going through trash is legal. That's why there is such a push for paper shredders and such for financial documents. While it can depend on the particular area you live in (dumpster on private property vs trash on the street), once something has been put to the curb, it is fair game.

As for the mess, you may be able to contact the street department or police if it is littering up your property.
I know its legal, but maybe what you can do is call your city hall and explain the situation...I'd ask if they can send a patrol car to drive by a few might scare him enough to stop doing it.

best of luck
I would put things like bottles cans and stuff in a seperate bag and wait for him to come around and walk it out to him and say "here i saved you the trouble" or " Aqui, Yo le salvé el problema." maybe he will be embarrassed that you took that much time aside. Then just stand there until he walks away not allowing him to dig in your trash while you stand there... if he isn't embarrassed by that then I would at least call the non-emergency line and let them know there is a suspicious cat in your neighborhood. Who knows get a shredder he might be looking for a soc sec # to use...
that is different for every area. in some places, dumpstering is legal, in some places it's not, but cops look the other way, and in other places, they will arrest you and charge you with vagrancy.

i've had all three happen to me in the past.

if you're really that concerned about it, shred your important stuff.

i'd say to check your local laws, but i'd rather just have you leave the guy alone...
It is kinda funny how many people make guesses on here, but actually many of them are correct. There is a recent case in Florida involving Mel Sembler, a local developer and former UN Ambassador. A man who used to be in one of the clinics owned and operated by Sembler wanted revenge on him for alleged wrongdoing. So he would "dumpster dive" in Sembler's garbage obtaining many different documents (this guy apparently did not use a shredder, UN Ambassador+ no shredder= really stupid). Well this guy got lucky and found a personal "pump" used for prostate issues aka p*nis pump. He had it placed on Ebay, and finally a judge stepped in and made him take the listing down and ordered him to return it although they did rule that once the garbage is placed at curbside, it is fair game. So if you are going to put your trash at the curb, try to find out from your garbage company what time they normally pickup and try to schedule putting your trash to the curb just before they come.

By the way, the man told the court "he had someone hold the pump, and could not locate the man who resides somewhere near detroit, MI" To my knowledge it has not yet been returned.
If it is on the street waiting to be collected by the trash man, there is nothing you can do. Look at all the stuff that happens to celebrities---like pictures they throw away are published in magazines. The people went through their trash and got them. I would heed what others are saying. If you have something sensitive you are throwing away--shred it. Even pictures.
NO is the right answer if you set your garbage out for recycling!
The California Public Resources Code Section 41950 through 41956 prohibits any person other then an authorized city or county recycling agent from removing recyclable materials from containers that are set out for recycling.
Although SOME people came close to a correct answer, let's clear up some misconceptions.

First, IF the trash is on public property such as the sidewalk where it is put for pickup, then no one needs a search warrant, not even the police and anyone can search through the discarded garbage.

If the trash is on your property then the bum is tresspassing and you should call the police. In this scenario also, the police would require a search warrant to access the discarded trash on private property.

The suggestion of a shreader was correct. If you don't want something exposed to public view, shread it.

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