By Tamas Mondovics
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) has a clear message for those who think that it is okay to dump garbage or their unwanted items carelessly on the side of the road when no one is watching.
“The law has not changed,” said HCSO Public Information Officer Larry McKinnon. “Illegal dumping is an environmental crime and depending on the size and quantity, as well as the nature of the items dumped, can in fact amount to a felony punishable with fines and prison terms.”
When caught, an individual may face a misdemeanor which means $105 non-criminal civic fine, while a business illegally dumping tires or landscape debris will automatically be charged with a felony, which can mean $500 and/or a year in prison.
As complaints are coming into the department, HCSO deputies along with the Hillsborough County Code enforcement agents are seeking the public’s assistance to catch illegal dumping suspects.
While the problem is effecting communities countywide, illegal dumping becomes more obvious on secluded or less traveled rural roadways such as in south eastern part of the county like Boyette and Balm Boyette Rd., SR 672, or Balm Riverview Rd.
Abandoned piles of household garbage, furniture, yard waste, old appliances, or used tires seem to top the list of illegally dumped items that are found all over Hillsborough County, and although not a new problem, it is becoming more prevalent threatening the health of humans, wildlife and the environment.
“Our team of experienced detectives is on alert to track down and arrest those responsible,” McKinnon said, but added that it must be addressed right away as upon seeing items dumped on the side of the road, others may see an opportunity to do the same. “If ignored, it sparks a momentum.”
McKinnon emphasized that besides the fact that it is disrespectful to the community as well as to the property owner whose land the items are dumped who may end up having to have to spend their time and money to clean up the mess, there is no justification for such carelessness.
“With all the services and County Collection Centers around, which are free to the public, there is absolutely no reason for people to have to dump their trash or junk over the side of the road,” he said.
During an earlier interview in connection with this topic, HCSO Detective Jose Sanchez said “There is really no excuse for dumping anything. It is just laziness.”
Sanchez emphasized that while illegal dumping is in fact widespread and continual, with education and little care on the part of residents it does not have to be permanent.
The Sheriff’s Office asks that if someone witnesses illegal dumping, call law enforcement immediately.
Available local collection centers:
-Alderman Ford Facility
9402 S.R. 39 in Lithia
Accepts collectible waste, non-collectible waste, scrap metal, tires, and lead acid batteries.
-Northwest County Facility
SR. 579, 8001 West Linebaugh Ave.
Accepts collectible waste, non-collectible waste, scrap metal, tires, lead acid batteries and recyclable curbside materials.
-South County Facility
13000 U.S. Hwy. 41 North of Big Bend Rd. 671-7611
Accepts collectible waste, non-collectible waste, scrap metal, tires and lead acid batteries.
For more information, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/solidwaste/about/locationsnumbers.cfm?option=centers.