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February 14, 2019

Philly resident: Neighbors' recycling bins help explain rise in crime

On the East Falls NextDoor page, a 'True Detective'-level inquiry draws laughs, derision

Odd News Neighborhood
Philadelphia Recycling Bins Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Can these blue recycling bins hold the secret to understanding crime trends across the city of Philadelphia?

Earlier this week, I received a text message from a friend in the old neighborhood that went a little something like this: “Did you see that ‘Crime/Alcohol in East Falls' post on NextDoor?"

The immediate answer: Why no, I haven’t. The immediate reaction: Log onto the app that provides a glimpse into the hearts, minds, souls and petty grievances of your neighbors. (This is why Best of Nextdoor is a must-follow Twitter account.)

Hoo boy, am I happy I didn’t deactivate access to the ostensibly residents-only chronicle of all that’s going on in my former neighborhood. (Please don't boot me, old neighbors!)

In the post, which has garnered an unusually-high 91 comments as of 9 a.m. Thursday, a resident shares his thoughts about something he's noticed of late in the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood. A member of the site for about two years, he said that while recently “perusing the recycling bins of various neighbors” he saw something troubling.

Furthermore, judging by the “large numbers of beer cans, beer bottles and wine bottles” therein, he can’t help but think “that the uptick in crime that has been noted on NextDoor could have something to do with the raging alcoholism of some East Falls residents.”

He also worries about the uptick in cigarette butts on sidewalks and the “small baggy (sic) which likely contained drugs at some time” which he noticed recently.

Since the site has limited access for non-residents, I have screen grabbed the post in its entirety so you can see it for yourself:

East Falls NextDoor Screengrab/from the East Falls NextDoor app

An East Falls resident may have cracked the case of rising crime in the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood.

I reached out on Wednesday to the resident-poster.

With no response by Thursday – my first question would have been "is this some sort of elaborate snow-day troll or are you really out there perusing your neighbors’ recyclables?" – we’ve gone ahead and shared this tale of woe with his name redacted.

Now, I’m no big-city crime-mapping expert, but I do know that East Falls has not become an urban hellscape lately, even if there's quite a few public safety related posts on that thread of late for car break-ins and the like.

The responses to the post mirror both my would’ve-asked question and the quirky nature of the app itself. Here is a sampling of the best ones (all are sic):

• Lol, whatttt? You think the people that are recycling their beer bottles in their home’s trash are the ones breaking into their own and their neighbors cars?

• You caught me! Every Friday and Saturday night I get wasted and steal my neighbors' Amazon packages. I throw the boxes in the street but I always recycle my wine bottles.

• BTW raging alcoholics often hide their cans and bottles...

• I think the bigger issue here is someone looking through trash and judging neighbors and the neighborhood as a whole based on what they find. People consuming alcohol in the privacy of their homes is totally normal and has been commonplace for literally THOUSANDS of years. SMH.. Some people need a hobby.

• I, too, enjoy a nice perusal of the museum that is my neighbor's recycling bin. Especially after a day filled with licking my neighbor's door knobs while making eye contact with their security cameras.

Yes, the reaction was overwhelmingly dismissive of the theory and person behind it, who took the time to respond.

Just because a behavior is commonplace for thousands of years doesn't make it right. You'll find that many behaviors which are now CRIMINAL were practiced by people for thousands of years without repercussion. And I'm not demonizing drinking whatsoever...I just see disturbing quantities of containers occasionally and it's a red flag for why there may be more roberries

And that's all for today in local Best of Nextdoor submissions.

So stay safe out there, Fallsers, and keep on recycling (even if half of it isn’t getting recycled at all.)

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