Some folks love to find bargains. One of the places to find said bargains might be in a dumpster. Yet, can you go through a dumpster legally in Missouri?

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The answer to that question is yes. You can legally dumpster dive in Missouri, although there are some things you do need to be aware of. Because every dumpster isn't fair game.

The guy trying to find treasure in your trash curbside, that's generally legal because the garbage can is most likely on public property. Someone going through a dumpster behind a big box store or one of Sedalia's finer strip malls, there's a good chance that's private property, and dumpster diving on private property is a no-no.

According to the website Eco Friendly Fact, while Missouri laws don't prohibit dumpster diving, laws do prohibit trespassing on private properties. Many business dumpsters are in fact located on private property and you can be sued or charged with trespassing if you are caught dumpster diving there and don't have permission from the property owner.

Additionally, you can't tamper with a lock to go dumpster diving in a locked dumpster. Nor can you steal someone's personal information and use it, or engage in vandalism while dumpster diving. You also can't leave a mess while dumpster diving, or might face charges.

The Eco Friendly Fact website also specifically mentions that dumpster diving in Walmart's dumpsters isn't a good idea. While each Walmart location's manager has discretion on whether or not to prosecute dumpster divers for trespassing, the mention of Walmart specifically makes me think there's a good chance you'll at least get a good talking to from Johnny Law.

Of course, many of the issues surrounding dumpster diving seem related to private property, trespassing, and how much the store owners, managers, or police officers you run into care that you're doing it.

In other words, when and how you chose to dumpster dive might influence how much static or attention you receive from the places your dumpster dive. Searching for treasure at midnight behind a store might attract more police attention than say at 7:00 PM on a Sunday night in July. Just as dumpster diving during a store's business hours might put you in a position to be run off by the store's owner or manager.

The bottom line is, dumpster diving isn't illegal in Missouri, yet there are plenty of other laws that can hang you up if a business or property owner doesn't want you going through their garbage.

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