San Bernardino County D.A. Sets Its Sights on… Cardboard Theft?

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is cracking down on an unusual type of theft which it says has recently exploded. Strange as it may seem, officials say the theft of cardboard—yes, cardboard—has become a growing problem for the county, and they are now setting their sights on curtailing this relatively obscure crime.

D.A. investigator Steve Rivera says there is an ongoing investigation into cardboard theft in the High Desert, but would not name the city in which the crimes have occurred. Cases will be handled by the office’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit and prosecuted as petty theft or, if valued at more than $950, as a grand theft.

While the theft of cardboard may sound peculiar, officials say it is a very real problem that ultimately affects everyone.

“Unfortunately, these thefts are committed on a daily basis," said supervising investigator Jerry Villanueva. “[The thieves] can receive anywhere between $200 and $400 dollars per truck load.”

Cardboard, Villanueva noted, is a “recyclable commodity” which is often stolen from unsecured recycling bins. The result is an estimated $1.3 million loss for recycling companies per year—money which is then passed down to the consumer through higher monthly trash collection fees. With that in mind, officials hope that residents will begin to take cardboard theft more seriously. They are asking people to report any crimes to their local sheriff’s or police station. Anonymous tips can also be sent to WeTip via the hotline (800-782-7463) or website at

Read more about the efforts to combat cardboard theft here.