Mary Gamerman of Jamaica Plain, who wonders why her old, rusty bike was stolen from her backyard (“Missive for a stolen bike,” Letters, Dec. 6), should understand that whoever took the bike may never ride it. Even old metal goods have value on the metal commodities market; hence the rash of thefts in recent years of sewer drain covers and metal fixtures from grave sites whenever commodities prices increase. Gamerman’s bicycle has likely already been sold for scrap.
Scavenging garbage for the inherent scrap value is part of the underground economy, and it offers some social value — putting back into commerce materials that many people simply want to throw away.
The practice is illegal in some jurisdictions, but not all. We all should be aware, however, that there are unscrupulous parties out there, and we need to protect property that we value, however old and beaten up, from the predations of those who value the items for other reasons.
If you do have metal goods that you want to discard, see what happens if you put them on the curb the night before your weekly trash pickup. They’ll probably be gone long before the garbage truck comes by the next day.