City workers last winter placed barrels of sand at key intersections, impressing concerned taxpayers accustomed to lousy winter preparation by the Department of Public Works (DPW). But Northwest residents wondered why the department decided to break out the goods on the cusp of spring. On April 1, Foxhall resident Pete Ross watched as a crew collected four barrels and left behind piles of sand about 2 feet high along Greenwich Parkway. Ross immediately complained to Department of Transportation officials, who sent out an inspector to investigate. On April 5, Transportation spokesperson Bill Rice told Ross in an e-mail that the people who had dumped the barrels weren’t city employees but “somebody/ies who stole the container[s].” DPW spokesperson Mary Myers says the 52-gallon barrels have multiple applications: “People use them as trash cans.” Street cleaners were called in to sweep up. —Annys Shin