Week after week for perhaps a year or longer a mystery person drove through a west Petaluma neighborhood, tossing multiple bags of household garbage out onto the streets, said Petaluma police.
It became a major topic of conversation and irritation for many Wickersham Park neighborhood residents who dealt with the leavings. Many of them had kept watch, hoping to spot the culprit and some even picked through the spilled rubbish, unsuccessfully looking for a clue to an identity.
“Every week we would find it in various spots in the neighborhood. At least two bags of garbage. Nothing you could trace back to anybody,” said neighbor Merielle Morshead. “Sometimes a car would hit it and there'd be garbage all over the place. The whole neighborhood has been trying to find out who it is.”
Area resident Paula Deuweke called the trash dumping “beyond obnoxious.”
“It was always tossed on the sidewalk or the gutter in front of somebody's house,” said Dueweke.
“It's not the crime of the century but it really does negatively impact morale in a neighborhood when you have to deal with this kind of nonsense,” said Dueweke.
After fielding complaints from residents for months about the yellow bags of garbage showing up in the streets, near the park and even in some people's landscaping, police recently conducted a few stakeouts.
As the bags typically appeared between 5-7 a.m. officers one day last week showed up early. They think they narrowly missed the dumper last week and Wednesday morning they say they got him.
At 6:45 a.m. officers arrested a neighborhood resident after seeing him toss a yellow bag from his car's passenger window onto G Street, said Petaluma Sgt. Ken Savano.
One officer grabbed the bag, which contained trash, and another officer stopped the driver, who admitted being the person who has been dropping the bags, Savano said.
Officers arrested Floriberto Ojeda, 35. He was taken to the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor dumping, as well as being an unlicensed driver who was on probation for driving without a license.