Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Call police to deal with garbage picker

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: This is regarding the creepy neighbour going into garbage: Send a snail-mail letter to the house noting that everyone is on to him and asking this garbage picking to stop immediately, have it signed..." Several of your concerned neighbours." -- Simple Solution, Winnipeg

Dear Solution: Getting an anonymous letter from neighbours saying they are watching you would be hard on anybody, but particularly someone with mental problems who might be paranoid. Feeling eyes were on you and your house would be very frightening, so we need a gentler solution.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I just read the letter from the lady who wonders why a neighbour would be rummaging through her garbage cans. She mentions that he lives with his elderly mother and appears to have psychiatric problems. My guess is he's hungry. Both he and his mother might be in need of help. The best thing for her to do is to call the police non-emergency line and explain the problem to them. They are very knowledgeable about both human behaviour and the law, and will be able to give advice about what sorts of social services might be available, and the circumstances under which they would have the legal authority to intervene... If she is acquainted with the mother she might want to pay her a neighbourly visit to get a better idea of what their circumstances are, but she should call the police first. My experience is that they are always sympathetic and helpful. And because they are accustomed to working on the front lines with all sorts of people, they also have a lot practical information about things like how to tell whether someone is dangerous, and how to approach neighbours who are disturbing you. -- Concerned

Dear Concerned: You will be very pleased to see the letter below, which arrived the day after yours.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is in response to the neighbours concerned about the middle-aged son who seems "off" rummaging through their garbage. I am the Vulnerable Persons Co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Police Service. I work closely with social workers in various fields to try and resolve various types of community problems and concerns. This son may be garbage-picking for a number of reasons -- hoarding, hunger, mental illness and/or it could be for some illegal purpose. Whatever the purpose for his behaviour, the issue needs to be addressed. I have a constable who works for me, teamed up with a social worker who can attend the residence and assess the problem and make referrals to appropriate social agencies that may assist in the needs of this son and or his elderly mother. If his actions are for illegal purposes, then the officer attending can address this concern as well. Please refer the person who wrote you to Winnipeg Police Vulnerable Persons Unit at 986-6287 and we can address this concern. -- P/Sgt. Susan Desjardine #1906, 986-6287,

Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press 1355 Mountain Ave. Wpg R2X 3B6 or email

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 15, 2011 D8

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