Cleaning up a backyard mess

April 7, 2009 5:12:07 PM PDT
A Brooklyn man, tired of having his backyard trashed, decided to get the culprits on camera with a little help from Eyewitness News. He knew where the garbage was coming from, but proving it was the key. The man claimed workers at a Brooklyn warehouse were just dumping trash out of windows and onto his property. And sure enough, they were caught...trash-handed.

"Out of the small window, they'll throw their food and trash out," Travis Cooper said. Cooper is sick of having his backyard trashed.

"The mice, the rats, it's just disgusting," he said.

The front of his Clinton Hill, Brownstone is immaculate. But the back is another story. It butts up to an alleyway behind a Salvation Army warehouse.

"It's hard to bring friends over and come out here and just sit and have a beer and just relax," he said. "Without being embarrassed because of the garbage. And I just want it clean."

Cooper says he called the Salvation Army, and they said they'd take care of it. They didn't, and then he tried the sanitation department.

"They couldn't do nothing," he said. "Because they can't see it from the street, so they can't do anything about it...I called (Eyewitness News), and you guys are helping me out."

Investigative reporter Sarah Wallace arranged for Cooper to take video of the warehouse's windows, and sure enough...

"Food, trash, you name it," he said. "They throw it."

In one instance, a worker threw out an entire bowl of spaghetti, and then wipes some reluctant strands from the windowsill. Sarah decided to pay a visit to the warehouse and talk to the supervisor.

Sarah: "Just tell me why these guys are dumping garbage out of the windows." Supervisor: "No, we're not dumping garbage out of the windows, ma'am." Sarah: "We have you on tape doing it." Supervisor: "Well, if you have somebody on tape. I would like to see it because we're not dumping garbage out of the window." Sarah: "So, all of that garbage back there isn't coming from your building?" Supervisor: "I wouldn't say, yes, we have a problem with that, but we're working on it." Sarah: "But why are they doing it?" Supervisor: "I have no idea, ma'am. Why to most people do strange things in the world?"

Sarah then returned with the videotape and Cooper in tow. Suddenly, the supervisor didn't want to be on camera looking at the tape.

He later assured they'd be taking action.

"We're still going to clean it up. Didn't I say that?" he said. "Ma'am, we're gonna do it, not a hundred percent, 110 percent."

"That's it," he said. "Just stop throwing the trash out. It's disgusting."

Late Tuesday afternoon, workers were out in force at the back of the Salvation Army, cleaning up. A spokesman promises everyone there has been spoken to about the proper use of garbage cans.