Cameras used to catch illegal dumping being stolen, tampered with

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City is fighting a problem that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

The city is not only battling trash piling up at illegal dumping sites, but it's also trying to keep its equipment from being trashed in the process.

Illegal dumping is a growing issue Kansas City is trying to get in front of. It's also an issue that's costing taxpayers $2 million every year. 

"The number of illegal dumping sites in Kansas City, I couldn't even put a number on it," said Alan Ashurst, an Illegal Dumping Investigator for the city. 

For several years, Kansas City has been using motion sensor cameras to catch people dumping illegally. 

"In the last five years, we've probably purchased in the neighborhood of 250 to 300 cameras," said Ashurst. 

Currently, the city has 25 cameras set up at 17 popular dumping sites. The cameras are snapping photos of illegal dumpers in the act. 

"I think I'm probably pushing 99 percent conviction rate with cameras," said Ashurst. 

That conviction rate could go down as investigators deal with another problem. 

"Cameras do disappear. These are not high-tech, highly guarded, safeguarded cameras. They don't go on top of poles and things like that," said Ashurst. 

Ashurst said cameras have been torn down, stolen, and even vandalized. The cost for one camera is around $80. Kansas City recently received a $3,000 grant to buy new equipment. 

"We bought 30 cameras. We bought batteries for those cameras, memory cards, cable locks," said Ashurst. 

Ashurst is hoping the new cameras last the city all year. 

The city recently hired three more illegal dumping investigators to help fight the growing problem. 

If you know of a site or areas that need to be cleaned up, you can call investigators at 311. If you're caught illegally dumping trash, you could be fined $500 or more. 

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