People are being urged to shred their personal documents after several rubbish bags were slashed and their contents searched in Teesside.
Surveillance will be stepped up in the area
Over the last few months, rubbish left out for collection in the Gresham area of Middlesbrough has been targeted by bin bag thieves.
It is believed they are hunting for bank statements and credit card slips.
Middlesbrough Council says people need to take more care when they are throwing out confidential documents.
It is advising people to buy paper shredders and destroy documents containing personal information before throwing them out.
The council is selling cheaper shredders and putting commercial ones in various locations so people can take their waste to places like community centres to be shredded.
Surveillance is also due to be stepped up in the area.
Chair of Gresham Community Council Linda Mole: "I don't think people realise that this is what other people are looking for. Me, as an ordinary citizen would say a dog has done it.
"But having been educated to what people are looking for then obviously your mind starts to work overtime as to just how many bags they are going through and what they are getting out of them."