Please help me stop the homeless person(s) from crapping on my stoop and rummaging through my trash.
June 6, 2006 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Please help me stop the homeless person(s) from crapping on my stoop and rummaging through my trash.

The brownstone I live in in Brooklyn has a stoop, and on the side of the stoop is a small alley about 10 feet deep where we keep our garbage cans. We have, on multiple occasions, found human feces in the alley. I'm assuming this person prefers pooping on my stoop (next to my stoop technically) because it's a little dark (although it is light enough to be seen back there at night from the sidewalk) and they can take cover behind the garbage cans. (unfortunately there is no place else to keep my garbage cans)

On a probably related note, we've also found lately that someone has been rooting through our garbage cans in the alley and making a HUGE mess of things. Garbage that was neatly bagged and placed in the cans winds up strewn about, all over the alley. It's bad enough to have someone using my property as their bathroom, but now I have to clean up after them too?

How do I keep these people from messing up my alley? I thought about calling the cops, but I really can't imagine what they could offer me. Presumably, cops in Brooklyn have more important things to do than staking out my brownstone waiting for someone to poop on it.

The other option I've toyed with is getting one of those sprinklers that work on a motion sensor -- the ones people use to keep deer out of their gardens. But that just seems mean, if a little fun. It's also probably not wise to provoke these people.

Any thoughts at all would be very much appreciated.
posted by paulrockNJ to Human Relations (23 answers total)
Can you just hook up a motion detecting light? These things are very common in the suburbs -- if he's trying to take a dump a bright light will shine down and illuminate his actions?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:41 PM on June 6, 2006

Can you light the area up more?
posted by cellphone at 3:41 PM on June 6, 2006

Beat me to it!
posted by cellphone at 3:41 PM on June 6, 2006

I feel for you. When I lived in Boston's South End, homeless folks would destroy my garbage packaging. My personal solution was to make the garbage as uninviting as possible (nothing salvagable ever went into the garbage, anyway, so I was really saving them effort).

I used to liberally mix rabbit litter, condoms, rancid takeout and anything else objectionable that I had into the bags and leave my recycling right next to it to let them know that's where the cans were. Empty cat litter or anything you've got into all the bags that you're taking out, tie the bags well, and shake the hell out of them. And don't ever leave anything that someone might want in your trash. It's the same few homeless folks doing it, and they'll learn that your garbage bags aren't worth the trouble after a while.

I don't have any advice for the shitting except to get a motion dectector light. Which will probably get disabled.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:50 PM on June 6, 2006

the sprinkler thing sounds good to me but retaliation might be in the offing.
posted by Megafly at 4:02 PM on June 6, 2006

Motionsensitive lighting. High. Out of reach. And as bright as the damned sun, if you ask me.

On a more humanitarian note, if there is a homeless outreach center or some such in your area, you may be able to obtain some assistance with getting them to stop pooping in your alley -- if it's new activity, maybe it's a homeless person who is new to your area and doesn't know where the resources are. At least, the outreach people might be able to give you some tips on dealing with the issue in a constructive manner.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:09 PM on June 6, 2006

Fake security camera?
posted by Mid at 4:14 PM on June 6, 2006

Another vote for the motion light. I have a similar problem, although in my case I've been solving it with a combination of calling the police, social workers, and making sure the area is kept clean, like someone's paying close attention to the area. I solved the garbage scattering by locking the door to the trash area and kicking out people I found hanging around the area.

In your case, I'd recommend the motion sensor light first and the sprinkler as a secondary measure if the problem persists, and building a small locking shed in which to keep the garbage cans.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:14 PM on June 6, 2006

I was going to say "Big ass lights" but yeah, on motion sensors would be good too. And throw in a fake camera for extra fun.
posted by delmoi at 5:23 PM on June 6, 2006

Putting some bleach in the garbage might make it less interesting to root through. Canine or human, it wopuld be obvious that anything good is ruined.
posted by theora55 at 5:25 PM on June 6, 2006

A light would be most effective IMO. I don't think a tramp who is desperate for a shit would care much about being filmed, or being traced by the footage of him defecating (difficult.) Someone like this needs to be deterred by emphasizing fear of capture in the moment. Detering him from doing a shit must be the priority, and a big-ass light bursting to life just as he drops his trews must be a half decent deterrent.
posted by fire&wings at 5:40 PM on June 6, 2006

Regarding the garbage, let me suggest a different approach. What is it that they're rummaging for? Recyclables? Food? Perhaps you could separate your garbage and make the desireable bits easily accessible. E.g. put bottles and cans in a clear plastic bag.
posted by randomstriker at 6:13 PM on June 6, 2006

It might be a bit much but I think you should wire the alleyway so that when the dude starts pooping he gets an electric shock right up the chute. I bet he never, ever, ever comes back.

And it might be fun but you can get motion detectors to set off all kinds of things (like the sound of huge dogs barking, a shotgun being pumped, etc).

Or just play Hanson into the alley, that'll scare them permanently.
posted by fenriq at 6:31 PM on June 6, 2006

According to your profile, you live in a Walgreens! Don't you have public facilities?

Sorry, could not resist. I have no help with the pooping thing, but I completely sympathize. While driving the Alcan highway to Alaska, i soon found out that at any place (roadside bushes) that a reasonable person might choose to stop and pee, somebody else had already stopped and crapped. Man, you can NOT get that smell out of your shoes, and it's not fun to drive 600 miles a day with it.
posted by Dunwitty at 6:40 PM on June 6, 2006

If the motion sensor light doesn't work on its own, you could always start yelling at them through the window whenever you notice the light's on...shame them out of it. Hopefully then they'll go poop/scavenge in some dark, yelling-free spot.
posted by lampoil at 6:55 PM on June 6, 2006

We were having problems with animals trashing our trash until we chained our cans. Just use the old style galvanized trash cans with 2 handles on the side of the can and a handle on the lid, then run a chain thru the 3 handles, fasten one end, lock the other end with a padlock and remove the lock when you take the can to the curb on trash day.

I'll also jump in the motion detector triggered light suggestion, but would recommend using a xenon strobe rather than a static light. A bright strobe would draw more attention and make your spot less attractive to any potential crappers.
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:13 PM on June 6, 2006

Is it possible to put a (locked) gate on the alley? Yeah, it's a bit of expense, but probably not (too) much more than a motion sensitive light mounted high up on the wall.
posted by antifuse at 1:30 AM on June 7, 2006

try putting up a note something to the effect of

"to the person going through my trash -
I don't mind, its all yours. Just please leave the area clean. Id like to avoid locking my trash up or installing security lights. These things are expensive and it would mean less free shit for you. You understand. Thanks."

it will cost you pennies to make the note. If it doesn't work, then you can do the other stuff.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 2:51 AM on June 7, 2006

If I was a homeless person, that note would annoy the shit out of me. Literally. All over the alley.
posted by agregoli at 8:17 AM on June 7, 2006

People scavenge trash for food, for returnable bottles and cans, for scrap metal, for other useful items.

In certain countries, it is traditional to leave stale bread or other food or clothing that is useable on top of the garbage cans, in order to save those who have no choice but to scavenge some dignity (i.e. so they don't have to go through trash). You might wish to try this, but probably not, because it sounds like you'd rather injure them than allow them to find what might be their only meal of the evening.

No one is going to read your note. No one is going to care about your neatness when they are living on the street and HAVE TO DEFECTATE IN YOUR FRONT YARD. Think about this for one second and try to appreciate how horrible the situation is, if you had to live like that. They are a little too worried about their daily existence to care much about your neat yard and house that you own, when they don't own a damn thing.

Lock your cans, put up a motion sensitive light, gate your alley. You have the money to do this. If you injure someone for going through your trash (which, btw, becomes public property the minute you put it in the garbage can - even the police don't need a warrant to search through garbage) you are a thoroughly despicable human being.
posted by micawber at 9:05 AM on June 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ammonia in the trash kept our local raccoons at bay.
posted by zeoslap at 10:34 AM on June 7, 2006

My husband works in a museum in the middle of our downtown, just a couple blocks away from a homeless shelter. They occasionally have the pooping/peeing on the back door problem. He said the most recent guy had the courtesy to actually take a dump in the trash can. Maybe you can ask your guy in the note to not only keep things clean while rummaging, but also to crap IN the can as well. Hee hee...
posted by printchick at 1:01 PM on June 7, 2006

I had this problem in a central neighborhood in Seattle, but the pooper had the misfortune to actually attempt to do his business just as i was taking the laundry down to the laundry room. The smell hit me, and at first I just went, 'woah!' and then a minute later I thought, 'hey, wait a minute, that smelled fresh and hot! Goddamn dogs!'

I backpedaled and instead of the feral pooch I expected, I got, um, an awful eyeful of a feral human. I totally, I am amashamed to say, flipped out. I charged the decrepit wreck of a man with blood in my eyes, frothing profanity and more or less beat him out of my yard as he whimpered and drooled infront of me, shit-stained pants around his ankles.

He left, which left me with his steaming pile to clean up, whuch I did. HE never came back, but later we had a schzoid meth freak take up residence under the stairs and a classic street drunk took to snoozing under our garbage-can pickup lean-to, a favored spot for teens and junkies to blow a doob or pop a vein.

Ah, good times.
posted by mwhybark at 6:42 PM on June 7, 2006

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