, Gloucester, MA

February 17, 2009

'Barney bag' thief leaves trash behind

Nick Curcuru

The controversy over the city's new purple "pay-as-you-throw" trash bag system has taken a new turn.

Police were called to Thurston Point Road at 8:32 a.m. yesterday after a woman reported that somebody had dumped all the trash out of her full purple bag, left the garbage in front of her house, and then took off with the bag.

A police report indicated authorities had no suspects.

While some residents have decried the new bag system and the bags themselves, the incident marks the first case involving a so-called "Barney Bag" being stolen from a resident's property. The bags have come under fire, in part, because of their square shape; they've drawn their nickname because their purple color reminds some of the famed, child-friendly TV dinosaur.

The incident ironically came on the Presidents Day holiday, when Waste Management crews were not making their regular Monday trash pickups. Routes usually covered on Monday are instead due for pickup today, but many residents, especially in East Gloucester and Riverdale, had their trash — and their purple bags — at the curb yesterday.

The incident also comes less than a week after city officials said that they collected 56 fewer tons of trash in the first week that the bags were used exclusively. The bags sell for $2 apiece, but most outlets are selling them in packages of five for $10.

Nick Curcuru can be reached at