A woman was found dead inside a charity bin in Queensland, Australia on Monday after she became trapped in the opening mechanism while “dumpster diving” for donated items, according to authorities.
The 43-year-old woman’s body was discovered by a member of the public who was dropping off clothes outside a shopping centre in Burleigh Heads just after 7AM. She was dangling “half in, half out” of the bin.
Police believe the lid to the chute dropped down while she was reaching into the bin, wedging her there—although the exact cause of death is as yet unconfirmed. It is not being treated as suspicious.
“It is what we class as a death by misadventure,” Gold Coast Police Superintendent Rhys Wildman said on Tuesday. “It appears as though a 43-year-old woman has attempted to attain or remove some items from those charity bins. She has unfortunately appeared to have been caught in the door mechanism while she was attempting to retrieve some of those items and has unfortunately passed away.”
“These bins are designed for a one-way mechanism, they are designed for people to place items in,” Superintendent Wildman added. “They are not play items those bins, obviously there is a risk as unfortunately we found out.”
Fire crews were brought in to help access the woman’s body, with reports suggesting they were forced to cut the bin open with power tools.
The incident has prompted police to issue a warning against the practice of dumpster diving, which is considered an offence in Queensland and classified as stealing even when it involves donated items and charity bins.
“It is not an uncommon practice for people to remove items from bins and essentially scavenge items that have been left for less fortunate members of our community,” Superintendent Wildman said. He further noted that, in the past, people have been known to crawl inside the bins to take shelter.
“We have, from time to time, had reports from around the country of people not necessarily getting trapped or dying in these sort of circumstances but we have had reports occasionally in winter time of people actually trying to climb into the bins and staying in them.”
Police do not believe the woman who became trapped was homeless, and have confirmed that she drove to the location where she died.
A report is being prepared for the coroner.
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