Karlsfield, VT—In an odd twist that the town’s city manager called an “unfortunate” mishap, nearly every piece of paper brought to a recent city event designed to help residents destroy old documents with their personal and confidential information ended up in the hands of “an unknown third party” rather than being destroyed or recycled.
Last Monday, more than 3,000 Karlsfield residents brought tons of credit card statements, pay stubs, investment paperwork and other documents with varying personal information on it to be shredded by the city. But the trucks containing most of the paperwork that wasn’t shredded onsite (about 90% of what was brought), turned out not to be from the Burlington paper mill the city said would end up with the paper. Who did it really belong to? No one is sure, apparently.
“We totally understand that people are concerned about their social security numbers, birthdates, PIN numbers, computer and ATM passwords and phone bills that are now possibly unaccounted for,” said City Manager Kevin Miles. “But I think we can all agree that the media really makes way too much about so-called ‘identity theft,’ and really misses the point that if these identity thieves really want your information, they can easily get it without me or anyone else in city government selling it to them in an abandoned parking garage a few miles over the border into Canada.”
A flier publicizing the event said a mobile shred truck would be on-site shredding documents. This paper was to be compressed into 1,100 lb. bales. A truckload of the bales was to be securely transported to a paper mill in Burlington, where the recycled material was to be placed into tanks of hot water where bleach is added to break down the material into pulp. From this pulp, paper towels and toilet paper were to be created.
Miles pointed out it wasn’t as bad as the 2010 event, when the flier noted that books were welcome and accepted, and a large number of people who showed up thought it was a book burning. “I’ve never seen so many people so disappointed.”
Miles said most townspeople are simply overreacting. “It was merely an honest, illegal, profitable mistake,” he said. “Could have happened to anybody. But, I mean, really, let’s be honest: if your identity hasn’t been stolen by now, there’s a good chance nobody’s interested in stealing it. Right? Right?”