Every week you may be separating glass, cans, paper and plastics, but long before garbage trucks arrive, it’s all gone.
People living near the beaches say it’s an especially nasty problem for them.
“if they were just taking the recyclables it wouldn't be an issue,” said Taylor Bloom.
Bloom and Drew Melzer live in Pacific Beach. Every week the couple is left fuming.
“People keep going through it, it gets messier and messier and by the end of the week there's trash all surrounding the area.”
They say there’s a near constant string of scavengers ripping through their bins, looking for recyclables.
“The open trash cans, people put in their dog poop in and that smells it up, more flies,” said Melzer.
From Pacific Beach to City Heights, it was so bad Jessica Gonzales stopped recycling altogether. Thieves didn’t just take the recyclables, they took her blue bin.
“They stole it from my house and we have stairs in my house, I don't know how they did it but they took it.”
Jose Ysea, a City of San Diego spokesman, says it’s an issue across San Diego. In the last year, 803 people have been cited, just a fraction of those who he says are "stealing" trash.
“What they're doing is taking money out of the city coffers because whatever's in those recycle bins, we the city send those off and we get money,” said Ysea.
The hunt for a treasure trove that Ysea says at its worst can involve teams of organized poachers.
“They're looking for identity material or recyclables and just taking off and systematically going house to house and going through all of a person's trash and recyclables.”