NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Frustration builds every time Robert Rogers turns the corner at Peach and Mistletoe in his Hollygrove neighborhood.
"You can see nails, wires, bags, tires, beer cans from household waste to construction waste," explained Rogers as he walked the property of a blighted home that appears to be a dumping ground.
"I have a little dash cam in my truck just to make sure if anything happens," Rogers said.
Recently, something did happen, and Rogers' camera was rolling.
"I see a U-Haul truck, a little GMC, sitting here, unloading their junk, trash, construction material with nail boards," Rogers said.
The dash camera video shows two of three guys quickly jump in the U-Haul rented pick-up truck as Rogers approaches the area.
"You guys can't dump here," Rogers yelled to them. The bed of their truck appeared to be filled with construction material.
They don't pick up what they dumped in the street, and instead, take off.
"I did get the license plate. I did get the U-Haul number on it," Rogers said.
One call to U-Haul and Rogers learned that a Lorenzo Hampton rented the truck from the U-Haul location on St. Claude Avenue. A closer look at the trash in the street revealed a pile of old boards with nails sticking out of them. Even more dangerous - all of it was dumped in the street.
What disturbed Robert Rogers even more was the NOPD's response to the situation - or lack of it, even though throughout the day three different police officers responded.
"He (the officer) said, ''You know, it's really hard to find the people that did this.' I said, 'Hey, I can help you out. I got a camera. I've got this footage that will show them doing it. I've got the license plate number. I've got the U-Haul number,'" Rogers explained.
That was officer number one, who started to write up a report but had to leave and head to a shooting. He later emailed Rogers, saying he'd been "taken off this case per his supervisor." A little later that day a second officer responded, but said the incident is out of his district. Finally, a third NOPD officer responded, but Rogers said that officer and his sergeant suggested he call 311 and quality of life.
"First off they said, 'Well there's no victim. Unless that property owner comes forward, there's no victim - a victimless crime.' I said, 'Wait, they dumped it in the middle of the street. It's right here. There's a pile of it, and there's video of it," explained Rogers.
We were with Rogers when he called the city's 311 line. The operator confirmed the information on what happened and where, and she directed Rogers to contact the NOPD's non-emergency line.
In the meantime, we went to the U-Haul location on St. Claude. A local general manager was aware of the illegal dumping complaint and told us that U-Haul was also seeking Lorenzo Hampton, the man who's name was listed as renting the pickup truck.
"We have been trying to contact him relentlessly," U-Haul GM Jerome Battie said. At that point, the rented pickup truck was a week overdue, according to Battie.
Next, we went to the Lower Ninth Ward address Hampton gave U-Haul when he rented the truck. He wasn't home, but not long after we left, Hampton returned our call and said he was unaware of the illegal dumping, but that his construction workers were in possession of the U-Haul pickup. Hampton promised us he'd have them clean up the materials in the street within a day, and when we went back to the location, some of the trash was cleared from the street.
The FOX 8 Defenders wanted to confirm the route residents should take if they witness illegal dumping. The City of New Orleans encourages residents to call 311, but the NOPD said when someone witnesses illegally dumped trash as Robert Rogers did, alerting the NOPD via its non-emergency line is the best option.
NOPD communications director Beau Tidwell told us, "In this instance, a miscommunication between responding officers resulted in a misunderstanding about proper procedure. A Third District detective is in the process of following up on this incident so that an official police report can be filed."
"It took longer for the police to deflect their job than if they would have did it. Like I said, 30 seconds it took me to call U-Haul, get his information and we could go down there and say, 'Hey, why did you go dump this?'" Rogers said.
In Orleans Parish, an illegal dumping first offense calls for a fine of at least $1,500 and at least 10 days of community service. There's also a program that rewards citizens for information that results in a guilty plea or conviction. In addition to reporting illegal dumping to 311, you can also call the line to request debris pickup. There are also three sites in New Orleans where you can drop off debris.