I sadly admit that plastic items are commonly thought of as being cheap and junky. Disposable. Of no monetary value. While I don't agree with any of those descriptors [*], the last one is clearly wrong, as recyclers have been saying for some time that your waste plastic is valuable and they want it.
As is human nature, whenever something is of value, criminal activity will soon follow. And that is happening with waste plastic. I've written before of criminals stealing plastic, but that was virgin resin. Stealing waste plastic for recycling it is something entirely new, but the LA Times is reporting that 47 cases have been prosecuted in the last year. What is most surprising is that these cases are investigated by a 5-person task force which specializes in the crime. Police forces will have specialized task forces for gangs, prostitution, narcotics, and other concerns, but plastics? We have hit the big time.
The article quotes cites that $6 million in stolen plastics was recovered, but I wonder if they are running the numbers "correctly". The stolen plastics are normally not in a ground or pelletized state, so they priced lower than they will be later. Just as the monetary value of drug busts are based on "street value" - how much the drugs will be worth when they are sold for consumption - and not on how much the dealers paid each other, the monetary value of the recovered plastics should also be priced by their street value, or maybe more correctly, their "hopper value".
[*] Well, there are some exceptions