Reporter on Newport Beach Trash-Scavenger-Law Beat Gets Punked on Live Television
At 8:05 a.m., Dave Mecham stood in front of homes on Balboa, where it is trash day, for his story on the city's new scavenger law that can send poachers to jail.
After video depicting Santa Ana's use of locks on residential trash cans, Mecham came back live to two "ladies" from Balboa for their reaction.
That's when his troubles began.
"What kind of challenge has it been having homeless people and other folks going through your trash?" Mecham asked as he stuck his microphone under the chin of a brunette in a ponytail.
She stuck her head down as if to speak, but remained completely silent.
"Okay, you're a . . . you're a . . . at a loss for words," Mecham said as he moved the microphone over to the now-laughing blonde. The brunette then busted up and ducked out of the shot for a second.
"And you will join me right now and help me, two roommates from Orange Coast College, you agreed to talk about this," Mecham said as if holding a court order. "Has it been a problem in the past?"
"It hasn't been a problem as much as--" the blonde began to answer before her friend cut in.
"I think we're more of the problem," the brunette said as KTLA's "Trash Troubles" graphic rolled under her. "We're the people that you arrest."
"We're the people that find things in the trash that we like; I mean, people do throw some good stuff away," the blonde explained like an OCC improv student. "I do believe the name they call it is 'dumpster diving.'"
"Yes, that is now against the law. They can cite you and arrest you and take you to jail in Newport for that," said Mecham as the women looked at each other in mock horror. "That's about a week old. Before, it was just a citation. So, yeah, going into the pokey if you get in trouble doing that."
One would assume at this point someone in the KTLA control booth would cut back to the news set and save this poor sap. Instead, they let him dangle.
"What do you think of that?" Mecham asked the pranksters, as if they truly do put their pedis at risk by dumpster diving.
"That'd be the third time I went to jail," the brunette answered with a straight face as her friend did an air spittake.
"Okay, ladies, thank you very much for your time this morning," Mecham said as he moved away from them, so only he would be in the shot. "Get off to school, right?"
"Off to school we go!" sang the blonde as the pair hopped away.
"Getting back to some of these images that we have seen," Mecham said, "the challenge has been people going through some of the trash, getting into stuff other than trash. The ID theft has been a problem. The things disappearing from around these properties. So that's really what this is driven by, and now a law now new in Newport Beach, and Costa Mesa looking at the same. And locks on canisters, if you will, another consideration by this city, already in effect in Santa Ana.
"That's the latest from Balboa," Mecham, nearly panting as he wrapped up. "We'll send it back to you in Hollywood."
After some chuckling from the anchor desk, a beaming Michaela Pereira said, "Dave, I think really the challenge there was getting an answer out of those two ladies."