Offenders engaged in the crime of illegal dumping may or may not be aware of the extent of the criminal element involved in their conduct.
Illegal dumping offenders may look for a quick, convenient way to dispose of trash or waste without investigating or taking steps for proper disposal. Illegally dumped waste include batteries, paint, pesticides or other chemicals and substances that pose hazards to the environment, wildlife habitat, soil erosion and water runoff that contaminates drinking water. Illegal dumping is an attempt to circumvent a trash disposal processing facility and its fees, and under the cover of darkness deposit waste on a freeway exit, a roadside, near a waterway or on abandoned property. These sites become breeding grounds for more illegal dumping, and may bear mosquito-carrying diseases, or cause spontaneous combustion or attract arson resulting in forest fires and soil erosion.
Firms illegally disposing of hazardous waste may endanger a community through this environmental pollution. Since the health and wellbeing of so many people is affected through the harmful behavior of vandalism and illegal trash dumping, officials have instituted stiff and severe penalties to both commercial and individual offenders. Penalties take the form of fines, community service, incarceration, probation, restitution and remediation. In some regions, dumping near a public waterway constitutes a felony.
To address this issue, many cities have developed dedicated illegal dumping abatement divisions in which their primary responsibility is to address this crime by collecting evidence and tracking down offenders to prosecute. These types of dedicated programs have been highly successful in educating the public, creating awareness of the issue, reassuring the community that the problem is being addressed and increasing prosecution rates by successfully identifying these offenders.