Man says he was cornered by can collectors at bottle return

Man says he was cornered by can collectors at bottle return

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- After a trip to take back pop cans at a local grocery store, Zach Benedict said he’s questioning the safety of some bottle return centers.

Benedict said he was recycling cans at the Safeway on Pioneer Parkway at their bottle return center Thursday afternoon when two men started harassing him.

“They started asking me for some of my cans, or (asking) if I could give them a dollar... could they get me a cart,” Benedict said. “The immediate moment I felt the physical threat of them touching me, I did grab my things and go inside.”

Zach told our reporters that the two men blocked him into the recycling center, which is in a different part of their lot than the main store entrance.

“I asked them from the get-go if they would please leave me alone, I just have a few cans to return, not a big deal,” Benedict said.

He pushed the call button on the machine to get help. Benedict said he waited ten minutes before paging a second time. He said he then went inside and told store officials about his safety concerns.

We also tried talking to the store about their procedures when handling the recycling center. No managers were available to comment.

Zach told our reporters that the store did respond to his concerns via Facebook; saying that “customer safety is a top priority”. Benedict added that the response said Safeway was communicating with the store manager for corrective action, 

He feels his safety concerns with this recycling center can be fixed if employees made regular walk-thrus, or if the facility was moved in front of or inside the store.

While some customers we spoke with said they also felt harassed by panhandlers asking for their cans, Jake Walton said he just gives his can returns to people at the center.

“The first guys that I see that looked like they could use a couple dollars, I just gave them my cans,” said Walton.

“People come and they give people their cans when they don't have time - that's cool,” said Benedict. “At the same time I want to feel safe and I want the right to do that too.”