Police are targeting thieves who go rummaging through bins looking for items to steal.
Officers are calling on the public's help as they ask anyone who spots people looking through bins to contact them.
The call comes as concerns have been raised of people in the city centre searching through large commercial rubbish bins looking for items to steal.
Rubbish is being thrown out of the bins and left lying on the ground as those responsible are searching through them.
Police are working alongside Sunderland City Council's Responsive Local Services Team in a bid to combat the problem.
Neighbourhood Inspector Jamie Southwell said: "We've been made aware people are searching through the large commercial rubbish bins in the city centre looking for rubbish that has been thrown away that they can take - and in some instances sell on.
"This is causing great concern to the local community, local retailers and local business, who are having to put up with the mess that these people are creating when they're searching through the bins. Rubbish is being scattered everywhere making the surrounding area look untidy and unsightly.
"We're working closely with our partners to take action to address these concerns and have increased patrols in the areas where this is happening, however, we also want the public to help us. If they see anyone carrying out this sort of activity if they contact us we can identify them and go and speak to them about this.
"Our priority is making everyone who uses the city centre feel safer and we will continue to listen and respond to our local communities concerns."
Coun Harry Trueman said: "Again we’d ask people to help us prevent this type of anti-social, irresponsible behaviour by informing us where and when it is happening, so appropriate action can be taken.
"Our city centre is for us all to enjoy, and we work hard with our community safety and business partners to keep it as safe, clean and attractive as possible."
To report information to Northumbria Police call 101 ext 69191.