Is it legal? - Tessmer Law Firm
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Is it legal?

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Q #2: Is dumpster diving illegal?
A: It depends.  The act of taking property that someone has thrown in the trash would be prosecuted as theft.  The Texas Penal Code says that someone commits a theft if he “unlawfully appropriates property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property.”  The Legislature has further defined theft by saying that an appropriation of property is unlawful with the owner’s “effective consent.”  It could be argued that (a) the property has no owner because it was abandoned (in the dumpster) and/or (b) the owner gave “effective consent” by putting the property in the dumpster, indicating that he had no intention of keeping it.