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Crime Stoppers “Shred-a-Thon” helps prevent identity theft

Fastest growing crime in the nation

By Lynn Volkens

Denver-based Shred-it’s mobile confetti manufacturing plant was in Gilpin County last weekend, parked just across Highway 46 from the fairgrounds, at the Gilpin County Justice Center. Crime Stoppers of Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties held their third annual “Shred-a-Thon”  from 9 a.m. to noon on August 17, 2013, to help people dispose of sensitive documents. Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization that raises funds and pays rewards to individuals who anonymously call with tips that help solve crimes. The Shred-a-Thon was a quick drive-through process for folks headed to the Gilpin County Fair. The Crime Stoppers work crew, Patti Hack and Ken Lloyd, made it easy. People dropping off documents for shredding didn’t even need to get out of their cars. It was also free.

As they have done the past two years, Shred-it Mobile Paper Shredding & Recycling donated their truck and operator’s time to Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers provided the work crew to help unload the boxes of papers from vehicles. “Donations are gratefully accepted,” said Hack, adding that the project isn’t a big fund-raiser for the crime fighting organization. “It’s more a community service type thing” she explained. Shredding important documents is key in preventing criminals from getting personal information, financial data and other confidential material used in identity theft, the fastest growing crime in the United States. Crime Stoppers’ data shows there are over 9 million victims per year and annual losses exceeding $50 billion.

Hack and Lloyd were helped this year by three student volunteers. Khristine Barr is a sophomore at Gilpin High. Cameryn Cullar and Connor Gwyn are both college students, studying nursing at Arapaho Community College and engineering at Front Range Community College, respectively. Barr said she got connected to the project via the National Honor Society. Cullar’s reason for being there: “Mom said I was doing it,” she joked. As for Gwyn, he said “She (Cullar) volunteered me. At my house, we call that getting ‘told-a-teered.’” Crime Stoppers will provide the three students with a letter acknowledging their service. They can use it for “Service to Community” credit on scholarship and grant applications, and job resumes. The three were in charge of the donation buckets and informational brochures. Folks who returned postcards sent earlier by Crime Stoppers, were entered in a drawing for a free dinner.

What actually happens to the documents once they leave a person’s vehicle? The crew empties boxes or deposits loose papers into wheeled bins. Once these are rolled over to the truck and latched into the lift, the rest of the process is completely mechanized. The bin is raised to the top of the truck and tipped upside down. The papers fall into the back of the truck and a hammermill inside goes to work. It chews everything up, including plastic and wire notebook binders. (The process can be observed on a video screen built into the side of the truck.) Some folks waited in their cars, at least until they saw their documents dropped into the truck and heard the growl of the grinder’s maw. The mass of ground-up scintilla is baled and sold to paper mills for recycling.

Documents recommended for shredding include anything that contains a person’s driver’s license, passport, credit card, bank account, brokerage account, debit card, social security, or insurance policy numbers; home address and addresses of banks and brokers; tax information; and educational and employment details. In addition to looking at financial documents (probably the most common documents that the average person thinks of shredding), folks should also consider the information on legal documents and medical records, even ex-rays.

Businesses have even more records to consider: profit and loss statements, organization charts, personnel files, payroll records, market research, contracts, client lists, receipts, invoices, canceled checks, computer reports, new product information, business proposals, price/inventory lists, executive correspondence and obsolete stationery, brochures and files. Recognizing that the amount of documents generated by businesses can be significant, Hack said Crime Stoppers would consider working with them to bring up the mobile shredder on a future day, probably to a location in Black Hawk where it would be convenient to the casinos and other commercial businesses. The casinos currently pay private firms to shred their documents, said Hack. They could have their documents shredded as a Crime Stoppers project, and the money they would have paid a private firm could be donated to help fight crime instead.

To view Crime Stoppers of Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties’ most wanted list, visit www.gccc-crimestoppers.com. More information is also available at facebook.com/stopcrime.

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