A few months ago when I was moving we did our best to sell all the furniture we could possibly get rid of, but ended up with a few odds and ends that defied marketing; a very poor quality wooden bookcase; incomplete and nonstandard set of free weights; a weathered photo enlarger, and so on. Just really old and really crap, the whole lot of it.

At a loss for what to do we set it out on the curb next to our trash bin, knowing that the trash collectors had taken similar junk for the people who’d moved out of that place before us. This was around 4pm in the afternoon.

By 6pm two different guys in trucks had stopped by and picked through it looking for hidden gold and took what they wanted. The second one damn near cleaned us out.

How did they know? Do people go around driving just looking for things to pick up off curbs? Are there informal communications networks that relay the word around? A couple other guys drove by real slow-like after the pile was mostly empty, saw it was empty, and turned around.

I can understand scrappers in some situations - for example, they’d always come by the dumpsters at the university apartments, because there you have a set date every year (the end of the semester) where people are guaranteed to be leaving behind furniture and other goodies they can’t take back home with them. I scored a couple decent books myself that way. But this wasn’t like that - I just lived in a duplex on a low-traffic corner in a quiet neighborhood.

Can anyone here shed light on the ways of scrappers?

Some of them are hoarders, or recyclers, or tweakers, or guys who just like to fiddle with stuff. I put stuff out all the time and it never lasts more than a couple of hours. I pick up wood when I see it and some electrical devices that I might play with.

I am a puzzled about some of the things people have picked up in front of my house as well but some of it is just luck and circumstance if you have something half-way decent at all. Lots of people pass by most locations every hour and some people have odd wants and needs.

I have three things not 15 feet from me that were trash that people put out. One is an intricate wooden stand which made a beautiful plant stand once I let it dry out and sanded it just a little, the other is a propane grill that looked like crap but it was just dirty and the burner was destroyed. I cleaned it up and put a new burner on it and it is in perfect shape now and looks new. The other is very pretty table that was only put out minutes before because I had just passed by. It is in perfect shape and doesn’t even look used at all. I guess they didn’t have a place for it and didn’t want to bother selling it.

I suspect that in many cases a lot of stuff looks potentially interesting and useful when it’s fee.

I wish I lived in your neighborhoods. Where I live people put out absolute crap and it stays there for weeks.

It’s how I decorated my college apartment. I got a chair, a bookcase, an all-purpose bin for the bathroom, a bunch of photo frames, a DVD player, and I think a couch at one point.

There are places online that post “finds,” but usually we just learned when the rich neighborhoods had trash day and showed up the night before. It’s not like it ever changed.

To answer one of your questions, yes there’s some people who just cruise around and look for stuff. It’s most cutthroat the day/night before garbage pick-up but I imagine the weekends are busy too with people cleaning out their garages and basements and hauling the stuff outside. I wouldn’t say I see their pick-ups with the fenced in high sides “often” but there’s certainly nothing unusual about seeing one.

A lot of times they’re just looking for metal content and even something that’s mainly wood or plastic might get picked up if they think they can pull enough metal out of it to be worth their time.

There are people that do this, semi-professionally. We broke apart a cement curb in our yard and stacked the bits in the alley. The next day they were gone. I’m at a loss as to what some one would do with random bits of cement, but there you are.

It’s all metal pickers around here - SoCal. Furniture and other stuff may hang out and rot until you have to call the city to get rid of it, but anything metal is gone in no time. I see them cruising the neighborhoods all day long.

We have limited trash hauling services, so when we had a sofa to get rid of we called our hauler for a special pickup. The morning of the assigned day we put the sofa out at the end of our driveway, and within a half hour someone had loaded the sofa into a pickup truck and carted it away. We’re in the middle of nowhere, so I guess the right people just happened to pass by.

We were able to call the trash guys and cancel the pickup, which saved us a few bucks. Unfortunately, there were a couple cushions missing from the sofa they took, so it probably ended up in a ditch somewhere. When we have something in decent shape we find somebody to give it to; only the really bad stuff gets sent to the landfill.

I will sometimes cruise looking for wood. Last month I found 2- 1x6X6ft long rails made of a tropical hardwood called shedua. About $150.00 worth of wood.

Around here, there is a neighborhood email forum where stuff like this is posted. Usually by the owner when setting it out, but also from people noticing something set out by others. And it often gets pickedc up by someone before the garbage collection day.

My mom’s house is full of things that were once trash (but have been rehabilitated into quality pieces), and she’s sold a bunch more. She never goes out looking for it; she just notices things when she’s out running other errands, and picks them up. Her only “information network” is that occasionally my uncle or I will call her to tell her when we see things on our daily errands.

We just put a treadmill at the bottom of the driveway. No one has taken it yet. Cross your finger for me, 'k? :smiley:

I put a dead AC out one day. Came back five minutes later and someone had already taken the chord.

Just the cord? Weird! If it is a swamp cooler, there is steel, copper, and a little aluminum in that unit. If it is a true air conditioning unit, It has steel, copper and LOTS of aluminum in it.

Just let it sit for a while. Someone will be by shortly for it.

I’m on, but that site is notorious for no-call no-shows. Some chapters will ban people if they have a habit of doing this.