How to Deal With a Trashy Neighbor

How to Deal With a Trashy Neighbor
By: Amy Jacquin

Cape Girardeau, MO - Not many people like neighbors who leave trash on their yards. And if asking them to clean-up doesn't work, you can always call police.

Obviously you need to start by nicely asking your neighbor to clean-up. If that doesn't work you can call police.

But before you make that call, you better be prepared to put your signature where your mouth is.

We look at one Cape Girardeau neighborhood as an example. A neighborhood where more homes are being turned into rental property.

The quiet Cape Girardeau neighborhood often throbs with college parties. Four Southeast Missouri State University students live in one house.

"I have no idea," says a neighbor, Harry Wilson. "I knew they partied over there on the weekends. But I've never seen it like this before. This is something else. Wow."

Beer cans, liquor bottles, cardboard containers and tobacco wrappers litter his lawn.

Mr. Wilson is an 80-something year old World War Two Veteran who cares for his ailing wife. He doesn't mind the partying. He says he was young once. But it's the trash repeatedly left behind that gets him angry.

"It's terrible," Mr. Wilson says, shaking his head. " I usually come out on Monday mornings and pick-up the trash. But it's nothing like this. This is ridiculous."

"It sometimes can be pretty frequent," says Officer Ty Metzger with the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

Officer Metzger answers dozens of complaints about trashy neighbors. The first visit may just earn a verbal notice, and Metzger checks-back in a week to see if it's been cleaned up.

Repeat offenders are a different story.

"What we go ahead and do is write them a summons," he says. "and it costs them money."

"At least they gave me a dollar to pick it up!" Mr. Wilson says as he finds a $1 bill in the mud.

He'd gladly spend the buck on trash cans, if the neighbors and their guests would use them. Instead, their party favors end up crushed in the street, even clogging city drains.

Amy Jacquin gave the renters an opportunity to present their side of the story...

"I'm talking about neighbors complaining that trash is left routinely on their lawns," she tells one young man who answers the door.

"I don't know nothing about it. My roommates do, though," he answers.

"You're saying you don't know about the trash left around?" asks Amy.

"No. I'm in my room all the time, or at class."

They politely ignored requests from their neighbors, too. But a recent call to Cape police finally prompted some action.

So only time will tell if these young students turn into considerate neighbors.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wilson is sending a message of his own. He now has "No Trespassing" signs posted along his yard.

If you're in this kind of situation and decide to call for police assistance, be prepared to call every time it happens.

Also, do not clean up the mess first. Leave it alone until the officer sees it.

And even though you may be willing to tolerate the parties, just not the trash. Calling police while the party is going on may bring the best results.