Illegal dumper caught in the act as city battles plague

A Ceres resident learned the hard way Friday that the city is serious about cracking down on illegal dumping.

A city worker walked down El Camino Avenue south of the Pine Street Overpass and witnessed Jimmy Belcher of Ceres pulling discarded items from the backyard of a Sixth Street property onto the public right-of-way and alerted Ceres police and code enforcement. Belcher’s misdemeanor citation comes with a $100 fine.

“He said he didn’t live there and was hired to clean up the property,” said Ceres code enforcement manager Jeffrey Hopkins. “We have a lot of illegal dumps there and he was like, ‘Well, I’m not the only one dumping here.'”

The city is stepping up its efforts to clamp down on the illegal dumps that plague Ceres and contribute to the general plague. Recently, Ceres City Council voted to hire another full-time code enforcement officer and two part-time staff. The additional staff is being funded for two years with ARPA funds, federal COVID relief money.

“Help is on the way,” said Hopkins, who constantly checks hotspots where chronic illegal dumping is a problem “in hopes of catching someone.” These areas include Richland Avenue near River Road and N. Central Avenue near River Road. He suspects much of the spill is happening in the dark.

The city plans to purchase and install more surveillance cameras at these locations to retrieve footage and license plates so police can track down the culprits.

The public can help combat the problem by reporting when they see someone throwing furniture and other objects in the streets or on the side of the road. Hopkins said if an illegal dump is in progress or if an illegal dump has already occurred, citizens can call the dispatch at (209) 538-5712 to report it. Ceres dispatchers will request the location and any information about the offender. Illegal dumping will be documented and cleaned up as soon as possible.

Hopkins dismisses the idea that aliens are causing Ceres the problem.

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