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Welcome to the 'Hotel California' Clothing Donation Bin

Police say a man got into a clothing bin at the Goodwives Shopping Center to try to steal donated items, but the container had a nasty surprise for him.

What does a clothing donation bin and the Hotel California have in common?

You guessed it: Both are "programmed" to receive a human being but one can never leave—at least by his own devices.

Edgard Dubon, 24, of Amityville, NY found that out the hard way on Wednesday, when Darien Police say they received a phone call from him inside the container, asking to be let out.

gave this description of the incident:

At about 3:35 a.m., Dubon called 911 to tell police he was inside the donation clothing bin near People's United Bank at the shopping center.

He had already called the company that owns the bin and left a message saying he was trapped inside.

Dubon didn't bring any alibis into his conversation with police: He admitted to police that he was a prisoner there of his own device—he had climbed inside the bin in order to steal clothing people had put inside the bin as donations to American Recycling Technologies of Great Neck, NY.

Police arriving at the scene found numerous items of clothing outside the container. Officers tried to free Dubon, but his left leg was wedged between the bin opening and something inside the container, which was locked.

Darien firefighters were called in, along with Darien EMS-Post 53. Firefighters attacked the steely beast of a clothing bin by cutting the lock with large bolt cutters, which freed Dubon, letting him outside to the place he'd been before. He was uninjured.

Police then arrested Dubon on charges of third-degree criminal trespass, sixth-degree larceny and third-degree criminal mischief. He was held on $1,000 bond, couldn't make bail and appeared in state Superior Court in Stamford later that day.

It's been a problem, the bin owner says

Police informed the owner about the attempted theft and damage to the bin. Police were told that over the past several years American Recycling Technologies has had quite a problem with thefts from its donation bins in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

As a result, the company has been replacing its bins with a new type that allows a person to climb in but not back out—trapping the thief inside.

Police said the bin has a sign on it which states: "No trespassing. Warning, climbing into this bin is trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." (A picture of the sign is attached to this article.)

Update: 4:42 p.m.: According to a sign on the bins (see picture attached to this article), American Recycling Technologies Inc. of Great Neck, NY is a for-profit company that makes a guaranteed annual "royalty payment" to the nonprofit Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association of Connecticut.

Editor's note: This article was revised at 12:46 p.m. Several more references to "Hotel California" were added.

David Gurliacci (Editor) August 13, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I added the poll because I wonder whether these bins might deliver a death penalty to a thief or even someone who's disturbed or too young to have the sense not to go into one of these things. It looks like this guy had a cell phone on him and could call the phone number. What if we had some kind of combination of circumstances in which no call could be made and no one noticed someone was in there for a while? I wonder what the chances of suffocation might be if the bin was nearly full, or if the weather was extremely hot or cold. If the thing is *designed* to let people in but not out, why not just design it so people couldn't enter it in the first place? Granted, we'd like to see thieves caught, but if one person died, would we think it was worth it? The phone number, apparently visible inside the bin, and the warning sign on the bid probably leave the company invulnerable (or not very vulnerable) to lawsuits, but I'm not asking a legal question here. I'm skeptical about this idea, but I want to see what other people think, so I've put up the poll.
David Gurliacci (Editor) August 13, 2012 at 03:07 PM
It's entirely possible that the chances of suffocation are slight and the risk of death is very slight. I don't know. Given what we know so far, I think there can be good reasons for people to take either side, which I think makes this a good question for a poll.
Charlene August 13, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I think these bins should be removed. They aren't maintainted and people tend to leave items outside the bins. Also, you think you're donating to a good cause but a lot of the companies that own these containers sell the items that have been "donated". You're better off giving to Goodwill or some organization that won't profit from your items.
Ali August 13, 2012 at 11:16 PM
I agree with Charlene -- people think they are doing something to help people in need. In reality the collection companies are the one's that prosper.
Cath August 15, 2012 at 12:22 AM
shame shame...people need clothes, or else they wouldn't be stealing them. Yes, it will only be a matter of time before someone dies. I just hope it's not a child. And when it is, ask yourself- was one precious child's life worth death just to catch a few lowly criminals? I certainly won't be donating clothing this way anymore.
Todd Keeping August 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM
The boxes should have spikes in them and be made airtight. That would prevent theft and the company could take the clothes of the dead thief as a donation. It is a win win.
John Sibley-Prusak August 18, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Keep the bins as is!!!!! This country is becoming a country is little children and babies where we need to be overly concerned about the well fair of criminals ! Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority (via mechanisms such as legal systems) can ultimately prescribe a conviction.
Louisa August 19, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I agree with Charlene.
tiffany peel August 29, 2012 at 07:19 PM
they should be but what i dont get is i was looking for info on the hotel calaforna and know its talking about close bins ?

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