One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s…Evidence!

During a time when our Nation continues to practice social distancing in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, investigators at Bearden Investigative Agency work diligently to continue the level of service and experience their global clients have come to expect and appreciate since 1972. A particular investigative tool that has been proving extremely fruitful during this time is in the collection of curbside evidence. After all, “One man’s trash is another man’s…evidence!”

People are spending more time at home, more now than ever. Everything they are doing is ultimately ending up in their trash. The Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home. Pp. 486 U. S. 39-44. You can find out a great deal about a person and their lifestyle by carefully extracting evidence from their trash. It may seem like a dirty job when described this way but depending on what you are looking for, this particular strategy can be extremely fruitful.

How curbside evidence or “trash pulls” work: Investigators go to locations – residences and businesses that are being investigated – and look for trash cans that have been put out for collection. Investigators will then take one or more bags of trash back to examine the contents. Our agents are typically looking for things like:

  • “Shake” or remnants of controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, or methamphetamine.
  • Unusual amounts of drug precursors, such as large amounts of drain cleaner or other items that can be used to manufacture drugs.
  • Correspondence that shows who is living or working at the location
  • Ledgers or other documents or evidence that suggest drug sales or transactions may have taken place at the location.
  • Proof of employment or loss of employment
  • Prescription medications and if they have increased
  • Online spending habits
  • Quantity of alcohol consumption
  • Other evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
  • Evidence of scheduled appointments which then can help investigators time appropriate mobile surveillance when deemed necessary

Investigators will typically pull trash from the same locations over several weeks to determine patterns and help rule out the possibility that some unknown person simply discarded their objects in someone else’s trash can.

Contact Bearden Investigative Agency for attorney led, in-depth investigations in all 50 states and around the world.  1.800. 943.2670