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TUCoPS :: Truly Miscellaneous :: dumpster.txt

Dumpster Diving: One Man's Trash




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                     -= Dumpster Diving: One mans trash... =-

                                 -= By Grifter =-
                         -= grifter@staticdischarge.org =-
                           
                           -= http://www.2600slc.org =-
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 The Dumpster Diver 

If there's one thing I love to read about, and talk about, it's people rooting around in piles
of garbage.  I don't know why it's so fascinating to me since when it comes down to it, it 
basically sounds pretty nasty.  I just like it.

There's something about going through a dumpster that gets your blood pumping.  You know you
aren't really doing anything wrong since you're not taking anything of value to someone.  But
you still get a rush like you're trying to pull off the heist of the century.  Maybe not 
everyone feels that way, but I do.  Maybe that's what keeps me going back.  That, and the fact 
that I usually find some things that have absolutely no business being in the "trash".



 What is it? or Why do it?

Let's start with the basics here folks.  What is Dumpster Diving?  It's really quite simple.
Looking in other peoples garbage.  Okay, maybe not people, but local businesses and maybe even
a local corporation or telco.  

It's getting in the car with a few friends, driving up behind the nearest computer repair shop 
and walking away with 10-12 Pentium processors.  Stopping behind Barnes and Noble and grabbing 
a few hundred magazines without their covers.  And my personal favorite, hanging out behind a 
cellular distribution center with a nasty habit for not shredding customer records, and
throwing away faceplates by the case.

So now you can see why you'd want to be a dumpster diver, and you can see that it's not really
as messy as you might have thought.  I had a friend who would never go dumpster diving with me 
because for some odd reason he thought I liked to roll around in the dumpster behind the local
chinese buffet.  Why in the hell would I do that?  Once I explained to him that the messiest 
it ever got was when I'd cut open a bag, and get old coffee grounds on my hands.  Boo Hoo!
Needless to say, now he's with me almost every time I go.



 What to Wear?, What to Wear?

Now I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking "Grifter, this dumpster diving sounds pretty
damn schweet, but I want to be able to get kool stuff out of the trash, and impress the ladies.
What does the fashionable dumpster diver wear?"

Good question.  Let me break it down.

-= Dark Clothing, Either Black or Dark Blue =-
   It doesn't take a genius to understand that you probably don't want to be seen jumping in 
   and out of dumpsters all over town.  Not by the police, who may frown upon your late night 
   hobby, and not by that hot girl next door that might drive past Toys R Us just as you leap 
   from the garbage with an armload of koosh balls.

-= No markings that could single you out =-
   I know you love your DefCon 9 t-shirt with the silver screen printing.  But leave it at home!
   Once again, this will draw attention to you.  But more importantly, what if someone sees you 
   in the dumpster, and you run.  Two days later you walk into that place of business you were 
   last seen diving in, wearing the same shirt.  Going to be pretty hard to explain that it 
   wasn't you.  Just take my advice.  No flashy logos.

-= Shoes =- 
   Footwear is important if you plan on getting inside a dumpster.  It's even important if you
   don't plan on it, cause chances are, you're getting in a dumpster at some point.  I highly
   recommend wearing a pair of hiking boots, or something with a very thick sole.  You never
   know when you jump in a dumpster if the piece of cardboard you're stepping on is supported 
   by a nail just waiting to say hi.

-= Disposable =-
   Not really disposable, just make sure whatever you are wearing you don't really care about.
   When you're hanging over the edge of a dumpster, you never know what that nasty crap around
   the rim is.  This is also another good reason why you shouldn't wear your favorite shirt.



 What should you take?

It's important to be well prepared when you go diving.  There are things that you'll need to
make things go smoothly.  You may even want to go so far as having a bag full of these items
in your trunk in case you get the mad urge to sort through trash, and are away from the home 
base.  But that's up to you.

-= FlashLights =- 
   Probably the most important thing you can take with you while going dumpster diving.  
   There really isn't any point in stopping at fifty dumpsters if you can't see anything in 
   them.  There are three types of flashlights I like taking with me:
      -  Mag-Lite - Everyone should have one, all the time.  It's a Mag-Lite damnit.
                    Plus they are good for knocking things aside and are very reliable.
      -  Military - Have different lenses for less visibility and can sometimes be used
                    to grab things with. (They're shaped like a hook.)
      -  Compact  - I like to have at least one flashlight that is small enough to fit 
                    in my mouth, so I can use both hands if needed.

   I have also heard that headlamps are good, but I think this would be very noticeable.  I do
   like lights with a wrist strap also, so if you drop your light it doesn't end up at the 
   bottom of the dumpster you're in.

-= Trunk Space =-
   If you're taking a car with you, which I recommend, make sure you have a lot of trunk space.
   You will be amazed at how quickly your trunk will fill up.  And there's nothing worse than
   having to stop early because you ran out of room to keep things.

-= Duffle Bag =-
   A duffle bag is nice if you're going to be on foot or are parking the car away from a
   dumpster and then carting things back to it.  Black of course.

-= A Big Stick =-
   Some people like to take a stick or pole with them to poke trash bags before they cut them
   open.  I don't do this, but hey, it's up to you.

-= Cardboard Boxes =-
   Odd as this may seem, cardboard can be a lifesaver.  If you are stopped by the police or 
   seen rooting around in a dumpster you can just say you were looking for cardboard boxes.
   "Yeah, my friend is moving so we need to pack up all his stuff.  You would not believe the
    amount of crap this guy has.  Hahaha."  Believe it or not, this will work 98% of the time.

-= Common Sense =- 
   I will handle this in the next section.



 Are there rules to dumpster diving?

The short answer is no, but there are unwritten laws.  By following a few simple guidelines and
making sure you act like an adult, no matter how juvenile you may be, you can usually have a 
good time diving.   And as an added bonus, not land your sorry butt in jail.

1) Leave it as it was.
   Do not make a mess, and make sure when you leave, things look exactly as they did before you 
   were there.  This rule also applies to hacking, so many of you should already be familiar
   with it.  If you make a mess, or leave the gate around the dumpster open, someone will notice
   you were there.  Once they see that someone has taken a liking to their garbage, THEY WILL
   LOCK IT UP!!  You leave one day with an armload of goodies, and come back the next to find
   a brand new padlock on your favorite dive spot.

2) Do Not Make a Mess.
   See Above.

3) Use Handles if Possible.
   It's better to have the owner of "Uncle Jims Computer Repair Palace" looking for someone named
   'Super Ultra Ninja Killer' than someone named Chris.  Keep that in mind.

4) Keep Flashlights Below the Rim.
   Just because you have the best flashlight in the world does not mean you should show it off.
   Keep your flashlight below the rim of the dumpster and it will cut down on visibility in a
   big way.  Try it sometime, you'll see what I mean immediately.

5) Don't Just Dive In.
   I don't care what CrashOverride and AcidBurn did in Hackers.  Throwing yourself over the side 
   of a dumpster without looking is a sure way to impale yourself on a piece of broken wood.  
   Put a nail straight through your hand.  And last, but certainly not least, fall face first into 
   a pool of glass.  Yes, a pool.  There is sometimes that much broken glass in dumpsters.

6) Flying Solo
   You can go dumpster diving alone, but I don't recommend it.  If you're leaning over the side
   of a dumpster in an alley at 1:00am, don't you think it would be a good idea to have someone
   there to watch your back.  



 Uh Oh! The Cops!

Do Not Run!!  If the police do happen to show up when you're diving, running is the worst thing
you can do.  You automatically admit that you knew what you were doing was wrong, so wrong in fact 
that you thought you should flee the scene.

Now that the cops are there you're going to have to talk to them.  This is not time to play like
you're some kind of tough guy, even if you are.  Be respectful.  I never could understand those
people that put those "Bad Cop, No Donut" stickers on their cars.  Nice job, now that the cop has 
seen that, you've pretty much guaranteed yourself a ticket.  But hey, at least you made a statement,
right?

Apologize for causing him/her to stop.  Remember the cardboard boxes you brought, this is where 
they come in.  Don't forget that your friend is moving, this shows that not only were you not 
breaking the law, but you're a helpful guy too.  

In "The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving" by John Hoffman he says if you're asked a lot of 
questions or whether they can search your car, politely decline, stating... "I Know my Civil 
Liberties, and I don't believe I have done anything wrong, therefore I don't think it is necessary"  
If you scream "I know my rights!!", you just turned into a criminal in his/her eyes.  Most police 
don't expect you to know what civil liberties means, and usually won't mess with someone that does. 

Do not pull the "Sure, look in the trunk, I have nothing to hide" routine.  Trying to throw them 
off with this does not work.  They took the time to stop, they'll take the time to look.



 So Where Should I Dumpster Dive?

There is an easy answer to this question and it is, Anywhere they don't serve food.  If they make 
food there, then they throw food out.  After about 3 days in the sun, a dumpster full of shrimp
fried rice starts to get pretty rank.  But to be more specific, I'll lay down a few hotspots.

-Computer Repair Shops:
 Old computers are still good even though their previous owners didn't want them.  You can usually
 find cases, power supplies, processors and other good stuff behind them.  I personally have found
 enough parts to build several working machines.  And that was with about two months worth of dives.

-Electronic Stores:
 DVD Cases, Speaker Wire, Telephone Cords.  An odd assortment of things come from Electronic Stores.

-Car Audio Shops:
 Used speakers, amps, speaker boxes.

-Cellular Stores:
 I'll just tell you about an experience I had behind a cellular distribution center near me.  One 
 night Myself and Pollux(A 2600SLC Attendee) decide to dive behind this distro center.  We never 
 thought we would walk away with all that we had. After about a half an hour we had: 
 1) A four inch stack of customer records including home numbers, addresses, cell numbers, and ESN's.
 2) About twenty five dish network smart cards.
 3) Two cases of cellphone faceplates.
 4) Disks of Customer Data.
 5) A years worth of financial data still in the federal express packaging.
 6) A list of the CEO and Upper management personal numbers including cellphone numbers.
 7) A copy of Windows 98 SE including the CD Key.
 But more importantly a new favorite place to dive.  I am happy to say this dumpster has never let us down.

-Satellite Retailers:
 Smart Cards, Smart Cards, Smart Cards

-Book Stores:
 After the month is over, all magazines from the previous month have the covers torn off and are then
 thrown into the trash.  They're still good, except the cover is gone.  You'll also find the same
 for some novels.

-Flower Shops:
 As lame as this sounds, when the flowers are even slightly wilted they can't be, sold so they're 
 usually dumped into the trash.  If you're the pimp that I know you are, flowers for eight girls can 
 get expensive.  Give your girls some of these, they'll never know the difference.

-Industrial Areas:
 Piping, Sheet metal, all kinds of stuff in the largest dumpsters you'll ever see.  I myself like to 
 frequent the  local industrial park where I have gotten all kinds of good stuff.  One place makes 
 basketball equipment.  They had a dumpster literally full of basketball rims.  My friends and I 
 played Shaq all summer, hanging from rims like crazed monkeys.  You know those vibrating chairs
 you see at The Sharper Image, I snagged three of them out of a dumpster.  They had small tears in the
 leather on the backside of the chair.  The wall the tear faces doesn't seem to mind though.  Full
 weight sets, weight benches, and even two Health Riders that had broken digital display that were
 easily fixed.  Industrial areas are very very nice, but be careful, sometimes they have their own
 private security. 

-Business Complexes:
 Office Trash, the possibilities are endless. :)



 Post-It Notes

Yes I am dedicating an entire section to the thing that I love to find the most...Post-It Notes.
Why do I love them so much?  It's because everybody uses them, and they write just about anything
on them.

I have found more interesting information on Post-It Notes then on, or in, any stack of paper.  Think 
about it.  Anytime someone gets a new password, or if they have to jot down an important phone number
they more than likely will write it on a post-it before transferring it to their computer, journal, 
or calendar.

I have found private numbers for very important people on post-its.  Building security alarm codes.
And my personal favorite, payroll account login and passwords.  It amazes me the things people write
on these little brightly colored pieces of paper.  They serve their purpose for a short time and are 
then balled up and thrown into the trash.  How many people think to shred their Post-Its.

So take it from my experience.  Cut open bags and look for brightly colored little paper balls.  Not
every single one will have great information on them.  But you'll be amazed at what you'll find.



 Conclusion

See, dumpster diving sounds like fun doesn't it?  I could go on and on about the kool things I've
found in dumpsters.  Like the time I found a case of porno movies in a dumpster behind a comic book
shop.  And as if that wasn't enough porn, there was a duffle bag full of magazines next to it.  
Pollux took it all and distributed it to his roommates, which was fun to watch.  True Story.

See what I mean, once I get started I just keep thinking about the kool stuff that's out there.  It's 
1:30am and I've got myself all worked up and ready to go.  But seriously, you can really find some kool 
things in dumpsters as long as you're careful and you use your brain.  If you keep yourself from
getting hurt, and out of jail, you'll find that dumpster diving can become a pretty fun hobby.

Well, if you're already a dumpster diver I hope you found this entertaining, if not educational.  And 
if you've never gone before...Get out there!  There's good stuff to be found.  You might feel weird
the first time you do it, but I can guarantee you that by the end of that first night, you'll be hooked.
Have fun, be safe, and bring me back something kool.


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