Thousands of wheelie bins are being stolen from homes in Tayside every year, costing the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds.
A Courier investigation has revealed that over 5,700 wheelie bins have been stolen in the past two years with North East Scotland Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles describing the figures as “astonishing” and a “waste of time and money”.
Cash-strapped councils — and ultimately the taxpayer — are left to foot the bill with the cost of a replacement costing up to £24 per bin.
He said: “It’s up to the council to make sure that communal and street bin areas are safe.
“Residents can help too by taking their bin off the street at night.
“That would help take the pressure off street cleaners and the police and fire service as well.”
Wheelie bins left out in the street, in particular overnight, are easy targets for thieves who often vandalise them and even set fire to them.
There were 2,298 stolen in Dundee in 2015 and 2,204 in 2016 with the grey bin the most targeted.
There were 368 stolen in Angus in 2015 and 272 in 2016 with the council putting the replacement cost at an estimated £15,360.
Perth gave a combined figure of 568 for the past two years and said the price of a bin ranges from £11.80 to £20.55.
The council said some bins reported lost or stolen in Perth are replaced with second hand previously used by another household.
Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Evans MSP said: “I’m pleased to see there has been a marked drop in the number of wheelie bin thefts in Angus in the past year but the cost of this selfish act is still significant to Angus Council — and ultimately the taxpayer.
“The council’s figures show that for every bin stolen the Angus community is robbed of £24 in funding.
“This cost soon mounts up and, on average, Angus is losing £7,500 a year on wheelie bins.
“We have some very innovative community groups in Angus that would put that money to great use but instead of spending this vital money on the community.
“It is literally being chucked in a skip by these thoughtless trash thieves.”
North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said vandalising wheelie bins creates extra work for councils “at a time when funding is being cut by the Scottish Government”.
He said: “The individuals responsible for these incidents need to be made aware that their actions have real consequences – and that councils have better things to do with their time and money.”
North East Scotland Conservative MSP Bill Bowman described the number of bin thefts reported across the Tayside area as “shocking” and said he was sure that communities would join him in “condemning this behaviour”.
He said: “Replacing thousands of containers will come at a significant cost to the taxpayer at a time when councils are facing increased budget cuts.
“There will also be an additional burden on the public purse from call-outs of local fire crews, given that many of these stolen wheelie bins are set alight.
“Local residents and community groups must remain as vigilant as possible to ensure they do not fall victim to these thieves next.”