‘Stealing’ From the Trash Without Owner’s Consent


I have a neighbor several doors down who is disposing of his home exercise equipment into the trash. He has hired a professional trash collecting service to remove it from in front of his house later this week. I told him I am interested in having it if he doesn’t want it. I even offered to pay him for it. But he won’t allow that to happen. He says it is his wish that it go to the trash and no one else have it. The reason why he wants it in the trash is because he was injured on it, and he doesn’t want it to injure anyone else. I am willing to accept upon myself any responsibility of the risk of injury. I know the hazards of home exercise equipment, and I know how to prevent them.
At the present time, it is sitting on a piece of land in front of his house that is considered the public domain. From a legal standpoint, it is now considered abandoned property and the secular law permits me to take it and it would not be considered theft. What does Jewish law say about this matter? Would taking what he has given up to the trash against his wishes be considered theft?



  1. I asked a scholar who is an expert in Monetary Laws and he said that it sounds to him that the owner of the exercise equipment has not yet relinquished ownership over the items, which means that you cannot take them. This is so even though he has put them in the public domain and they are no longer on his property. He said that if you really want them, your only real recourse is to wait until the company comes to collect them and they move from your neighbor’s domain into theirs. At that point, you can buy them from the collection company. However, he also mentioned that if your neighbor were to find out that you bought the equipment from the collection company, it would, presumably, be a source of a lot of friction between you.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team