Caught On Camera; DNR Cracking Down On Illegal Dumping - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Caught On Camera; DNR Cracking Down On Illegal Dumping

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Cracking down on crime using hidden cameras. The Iowa DNR is trying to catch people dumping illegally, but constantly manning secluded areas where there are problems isn't an option. It's a growing problem they're trying to tackle. It's led to using new resources to keep a constant watchful eye. It could soon lead to some charges for those breaking the law.

Conservation officers say, day to day, they always find something different at certain spots along the river, roadways, and parks. From tires and mattresses, to construction equipment and kiddy pools. The penalty for illegal dumping in Iowa is as high as $5,000 per day, yet it continues because it's difficult to catch and prosecute offenders.

"The amount of dumping and illegal activities in certain locations is just getting out of hand," said Iowa Conservation Officer Jeff Harrison.

The DNR is hoping to tackle that problem with hidden cameras. They've been in several spots throughout the county recently and will continue to move around to places where there are a lot of reports of dumping. They are motion triggered and some with multiple lenses, but there's a good chance you won't spot one. "We can put them in the air, put them in trees, on sign posts," added Harrison.

Harrison shared with KWQC some still shots from video off of one of the cameras. There's a car stopped near the Mississippi River at Concord Street. As it turns to leave, just minutes later, there's something new on the ground that wasn't there before. Harrison says it's believed to be a tractor tire. "You're setting up where a crime is taking place," said Harrison.

For something like that conservation officers could use the license plates and faces, but it's also going back to the discarded items. They look for an address, a bar code, or any kind mail amongst the garbage. Anything to link the litter back to the litterer. Harrison says with help from the cameras right now several cases have charges pending.

This is all part of the Keep Iowa Beautiful program which helps pay for the costly cameras. The DNR also focuses on a proactive approach to illegal dumping by getting information out to people on the environmental and quality of life impacts, as well as details on proper disposal of different kinds of waste.

The charge for illegal dumping is a simple misdemeanor, which could mean hefty fines or a judge could order community service work to clean up areas where dumping occurs.