Armed with cameras, citizens vow to stop illegal dumping

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A man is encouraging his neighbors to carry video cameras in an effort to stop illegal dumping in south Kansas City.

At Blue River Road and East 95th Street broken furniture, mattresses and other trash are ruining the landscape.

The Neighborhood Video Crime Watch started after homeowners became frustrated with the lack of prosecution of illegal dumpers.

Some say unless you can catch someone "red-handed," actually in the act of dumping garbage along the roadside, it's hard to bring criminal charges.

Evan Smalley says Kansas City doesn't have enough investigators to pursue all the illegal dumping complaints it receives.

So he tries to teach neighbors how to be good witnesses and gather evidence that will stand up in court.

"We should be safe from trash all over the place," said Smalley, who created the Neighborhood Video Crime Watch. "We should be safe from crime, safer from crime if we as citizens become much more proactive about becoming better witnesses. We can get better information to our police officers and we can get better information to our city investigators."

Smalley says illegal dumping costs taxpayers $500,000 a year, as the city bears the costs of cleaning up trash sites in neighborhoods. He says he often finds addresses or other identifying information in the trash itself, which helps investigators determine the origin of the garbage.

Smalley says with limited resources, the city needs help from citizens to stop a growing problem that depresses property values and tax revenues wherever it takes place.