Is It Stealing If You Take Items from a Skip?

A green skip full of commercial waste on a pavement next to a red bricked building
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: May 01, 2024
3 minutes read

Skip-diving can be a way of giving old items new life. If people are throwing out items that you think could be reused, then what’s the harm in saving something that might otherwise be gone forever? The reality is that the law could be against you in this case. It’s far better to ask for permission than for forgiveness.

Abandoned Goods

It’s normal to assume that anything being put into a skip is considered abandoned. After all, people hire skips to clear waste and to get rid of items that they no longer want. Abandoned goods have had their ownership relinquished. However, there are dangers involved with skip-diving.

For starters, no one ever expects anyone to be in their skip, so if it’s being used consistently, there’s a chance people could be hurt as more items are thrown into the receptacle. Similarly, the presence of glass and other blunt objects can cause cuts, which can get infected if organic matter is also present.

The big issue, however, is that skips are mostly found in private premises. You can be considered to be trespassing if found within a skip. Similarly, taking any items from a skip could still fall under the Theft Act, 1968.

What the Law Says

For the avoidance of doubt, the contents of a skip belong to whoever hired it until it’s collected by the hire company. This means that, even though the contents may be considered abandoned, it would still technically be theft if you took anything. After all, the owner may be simply storing these items for a period of time.

One of the reasons for this is because you need to actually consider whether the items are being stored temporarily or if they’re actually being disposed of. Whether the skip is located on their land or on public property, it would still be considered theft if you took anything.

The Solution for Skip-Divers

Instead of risking it, the easiest thing you can do is to ask the owner of the skip if you can take something. This way, you remove any concerns over legality and have permission to take what you were after.

If you’re hiring a skip and are worried about having people rummage around in its content, ask about lockable skips. These are a secure way of handling your waste, and you can control when anything goes in or out. Alternatively, you could make use of tarpaulin to contain the contents.

Need a Skip?

Are you in need of a skip? There are a variety of sizes available to suit any job, whether you’re opting for a home clear out or a renovation. Not only is it much easier having all your waste in one location, but it saves the tedium of constant trips to the household waste and recycling centre.

Find out how much you’d pay for a skip by clicking on the button below. You’ll be put through to local businesses who can give you competitive rates.