Do you return your wheelie bin to its storage area once it’s been emptied? We’re all guilty of leaving our bins on the street longer than they need to be from time to time, but some of us are guiltier than others.

To some it may seem like a trivial matter, whereas in others’ eyes it can lead to everything from an eyesore and an obstruction, to an invitation for criminals to have a rummage in search of confidential documents. At the end of the day, it doesn’t take much to trundle the bin back to its spot, be it in the front yard, back garden, shed, communal area or wherever it is that your personal waste and recycling receptacles are kept on the days when they’re not being emptied by the council.

It’s interesting to note that the majority of people make an effort to hide their bins during the week of Bonfire Night, as leaving them out for an extended period makes an attack by young rascals with fireworks all the more likely. But this particular kind of delinquent behaviour happens more often than you may realise. On Saturday 25th January 2014, six wheelie bins were torched outside a house in Hale, also damaging a fence and tree. The following Saturday, another six were melted down by lawbreakers in Dumbarton. The next day, three more poor wheelies were set alight in Stewartstown, Northern Ireland. None of these cases of arson were connected and, as yet, police haven’t found the culprits.

Though you may think that it won’t happen in your neighbourhood, this kind of criminal activity can pop up anywhere. All it takes is for a small group or just an antisocial individual to spark their lighter and before you know it you have a very real risk to your personal property on your hands, which could even affect your very home. The best-case scenario is that your bin simply burns until the fire extinguishes itself, but this is a real pain in itself. At worst, the flames could spread and spread, causing widespread destruction before anyone even notices.

So the moral of the story is, look after your wheelies! Return them to their storage area as soon after emptying as possible, and if they’re kept in a place that’s accessible by passers-by, try to leave a gap between them and any combustible objects, such as fences, trees and the house itself. And if you do ever see a crime in progress, please contact the police immediately, maintaining personal safety at all times.

A picture of a wheelie bin fire outside a house