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You kind of got the idea.... people put functional stuff outside in front of their homes or on the sidewalk.... (Instead of trying to sell it or drive it to a dump/second hand store and so on...)
People that grab them are stooping.
A small porch, platform, or staircase leading to the entrance of a house or building.
comes from dutch, so stooping is probably a NYC name for the activity.
a lot of that "garbage" as you call it looks like original "Mid Century Modern" furniture #13 in that shape and steamed clean will easily cost $600 to $700 in an antique/vintage store. i've picked up a few pieces off the curb and refinished them, my living room is all Mod Century Modern that I've gotten off the curb and have gotten lots of compliments on the room
That was my exact thought, especially with couches. There's a good chance someone had sloppy sex on it.
I don't mind my own sloppy sex. I mind the residue from other people's sloppy sex.