Aug 12, 2023

NYC cracks down on litterers with hidden cameras, fining ‘illegal dumpers’ thousands

Published Jul 22, 2023


Published Jul 22, 2023


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The city has sharply increased its stash of hidden surveillance cameras to combat illegal dumping – and sanitation officials say dozens more “eyes in the sky” will be installed throughout the five boroughs by the end of the summer.

The sanitation department has installed 122 new cameras since May, bringing the total to 165 cameras hidden around the city to monitor dumping hot spots. The city promises another 115 will be in place before the end of summer.

That increase comes after Mayor Eric Adams allocated about $4 million in the past two years to expand the program.

The city has issued around 164 summonses for illegal dumping so far this year, including 105 incidents caught on camera – compared to 51 summonses during the same time period last year.

The mobile cameras have enabled the sanitation department to give far more summonses to people caught on tape dumping furniture, household trash and construction debris on sidewalks or street corners. In New York it’s illegal to dispose of anything by transporting the garbage in a car and dumping it on the street or other space, private or public.

An example of illegal dumping in East New York. The site was cleaned by the sanitation department..

Fines start at $4,000 per violation. Vehicles used for illegal dumping are impounded in an East New York lot until the fees are paid off, sanitation officials said.

The department does not disclose the locations of the cameras, but city data shows recent ticketing blitzes on Bushwick Avenue in Brownsville, Brookville Boulevard in southeast Queens, and Seaview Avenue in Canarsie.

A July 16 tweet from the sanitation department highlighted a group of people hauling white bags filled with concrete and rocks out of a van and leaving them by the side of a road in East Williamsburg.

“BUSTED! Car Impounded Summonses Issued,” the department declared.

Councilmember Jennifer Gutierrez, whose district includes the East Williamsburg dumping site, said she’s “glad” the sanitation department is ramping up enforcement, given “the vast amount of this dumping issue in my district.”

“For a long time, the Department of Sanitation did not have a meaningful enforcement strategy against the crime of illegal dumping,” said department spokesperson Vincent Gragnani in a statement. “We just cleaned and cleaned over and over again, while crooks dumped on the same neighborhoods and got away with it, thinking no one would care.”

The cameras are a game-changer, he said.

“Would-be illegal dumpers are on notice: We will catch you, your vehicle will be impounded and fines start at $4,000,” Gragnani added. “Don’t dump on our city.”


Sophia Chang is a reporter on the NYC Accountability desk covering government policy, social structures and other issues that enable and complicate city life. Got a tip? Email [email protected] or Signal 347-688-7674.

Gothamist is funded by sponsors and member donations

Gothamist is funded by sponsors and member donations

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