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Confidential Police Documents Found In Confetti At Macy's Parade 180

cstacy writes "The Nassau County (New York) Police Department is 'very concerned' about reports that shreds of police documents (with social security numbers, phone numbers, addresses, license plate numbers, incident reports, and more) rained down as confetti in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The documents also unveiled the identities of undercover officers, including their SSNs and bank information, according to WPIX-TV. Macy's has no idea how this happened, as they use commercial, colored confetti, not shredded paper."
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Confidential Police Documents Found In Confetti At Macy's Parade

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  • Re:How to shred (Score:5, Interesting)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @12:13AM (#42090989)

    I think you'd need to ensure your sensitive documents were pulped, rather than simply shredded. Much harder to piece together paper machet'

    Or just feed the paper into the incinerator in the basement that helps to heat your building.

  • Re:I call BS on this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @12:29AM (#42091049) Journal

    Unless the evidence just *magically* disappears from the hands of the people who collected it and took pictures at the parade, we pretty much have to accept that shredded documents did end up getting tossed around like confetti.

    That done, we get into the question of where in the chain from NYPD filing cabinet to document disposal company to recycler, to party supplier some deeply underprocessed documents made it into the final product...

    Does NYPD not even cross-cut onsite? Fuck, my workplace does that(paper, HDD, and tape) and we don't exactly have people who infiltrate the mob for a living. Did the 'secure document lifecycle solutions' vendor cut some serious corners? Is there a bulk confetti supplier who is cutting the product with material from the shred stream in order to lower processing costs?

  • Cheap solutions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2012 @01:15AM (#42091223)

    Need a shredder?
    too much trouble to do a requisition and wait 6 months
    go to Wal-Mart
    Buy cheap
    submit 'expense'
    much easier.

    Too lazy to empty the trash into the confidential bag?
    Dump it out the window on the way out the door.

    City will clean it up

    Didn't have to 'walk the donut'

    gain a pound for retirement

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @02:12AM (#42091463)

    Not saying there's any validity to this story (it sounds like BS to me) but you can get shredders that shred to various standards. Fellowes sells shredders that are strip cut, cross cut, and micro cut (more or less makes powder). The reason is because the more intense the cut, the less amount of paper a given size of motor can handle. For example take three of their shredders, all with the same basic build and model number. The strip cut version can do 21 sheets at a time, the cross cut 14, the micro cut 10. Same motor, same general construction, only difference is the blade assembly.

    It has nothing to do with size either. You can find large ones that are strip cut. Fellowes has a 35 sheet strip cut commercial model they sell (costs about $4k). The more you want the paper cut up, the more blades you have to have, thus the more resistance, thus the less it can handle at once.

    As such businesses may choose the higher capacity, but less secure, shredders for some documents. They also cost less to buy.

    That's also why micro cut shredders have never become all that popular. Their cost goes up again because of the more blades and they can't handle a lot at once.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @02:33AM (#42091539)

    Especially if the organizer of the parade claims they use commercial confetti, and bluntly, why shouldn't they, considering that it's one thing less to think about and it most certainly isn't one of the big numbers on the bill.

    Can anyone see a snitch working in the cleaning crew responsible for cleaning out the shredded papers using the parade to hand some info out to his friends? He cannot access sensitive material, of course, and if he took home a few cubic meters of shredded paper someone might wonder what's going on, but grabbing it and dumping it out during the parade, nobody would notice.

    All you need is a man in the cleaning crew for after the parade. Thinking of it ... all you really need to get this rolling is a company specializing in cleaning... Anyone looked into this?

  • by cusco ( 717999 ) <> on Monday November 26, 2012 @02:40AM (#42091573)
    More likely simple stupidity. The local public utility district used to shred their documents and give them away to local horse farmers for use as bedding. Someone fed some customer data into the shredder the wrong way, and the stable it went to belonged to a local newspaper editor. Of course it became front page news, now the district has to pay to get stuff shredded and the horse breeders no longer get free bedding.
  • Scrap paper (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @02:52AM (#42091627) Homepage Journal

    Police in my state got into trouble once for printing out license and registration data and using the printouts as scrap paper in their front office, so if they had to write something down for a member of the public they might get somebody else's details on the back.

  • Re:How to shred (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:33AM (#42091993)

    Some idiot kid incinerated our plastic trash cans. Ordinary trash and recycleable trash cans burnt down to the wheels. The paper trash can was only burnt one third down, and the paper itself stacked/compressed inside rather compactly was mostly untouched. I suppose that the problem is getting the oxygen where it counts.

  • Shredding company? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:00AM (#42093355)
    Here's my theory:
    NYPD decides, as many businesses do, to contract with an company for shredding. They ship their confidential documents off to this company and they get shredded. This way the NYPD doesn't have to buy a bunch of shredders and deal with internal shredder compliance.

    The company doing the shredding decides that they're going to make an extra couple bucks and sell their shredded documents as "confetti". Someone in the purchasing office for the confetti company isn't looking to closely and makes the purchase. The shredded documents are shipped and then mixed into the confetti.
  • Re:Shredder models (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LoRdTAW ( 99712 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:07AM (#42093395)

    Back in the 80's (sometime after the Iran-Contra affair) my grandfather was contracted by a government contractor to design and stamp the cutter wheels used in secure paper shredders. Basically the shredder must produce paper shards no larger than 1/32 inches (0.79mm) wide and 1/8 inches (3.17mm) long. Pretty much dust comes out of the bottom of this thing. The wheels were stamped from big heavy rolls of steel stock and then heat treated. I can still remember the constant loud chatter from the 20 ton OBI press as it stamped out one cutter after another 6 days a week. It has a rather powerful 1/2 HP motor with a gear reduction head and a chain drive to the shredder mechanism. The frame was heavy 1/4 thick steel plate and the unit was housed in a nice heavy duty steel box. It does have limits on how many papers it can handle at once, something like 10 - 15 8.5x11 sheets at once before it jams.

    We have a complete unit that was used as our paper shredder for years until it became too bulky. It weighs close to 80 lbs and must be suspended on a stand over a bag or bin, it doesn't fit under a desk. We also have a complete mechanism with chain and motor as well as a half assembled unit. We still have the shredder, but we now use one of those cheap staples bought cross cut shredders, does the job nicely. Those shredders were built to last and I bet there might be some still in operation at various government agencies.

  • Re:How to shred (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @11:39AM (#42094147)

    it would probably burn quite vigorously.

    Sounds like a job for MythBusters

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!