Report Claims Confidential Police Info Used As Confetti At Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

from the oops dept

Mathew Ingram points us to the somewhat stunning claim that, during the Macy's Thanksgiving parade last week, some of the confetti showered down on viewers in Manhattan was poorly shredded documents from the Nassau County police department (for those not from the area, Nassau County is not in NYC, but right next to it on Long Island).
"There are phone numbers, addresses, more social security numbers, license plate numbers and then we find all these incident reports from police."

One confetti strip indicates that it's from an arrest record, and other strips offer more detail. "This is really shocking," Finkelstein said. "It says, 'At 4:30 A.M. a pipe bomb was thrown at a house in the Kings Grant' area."
Apparently there was also some info about Mitt Romney's motorcade for the last presidential debate that took place at Hofstra University (in Nassau County). And worse:
Most significant, the confetti strips identified Nassau County detectives by name. Some of them are apparently undercover. Their social security numbers, dates of birth and other highly sensitive personal information was also printed on the confetti strips.
The story sounds so bizarre that I'm wondering if it's really true, or if it's just someone messing with the press. But, of course, it's entirely possible. You'd just hope that modern police agencies were smarter than that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Zos (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

    i've yet to be disappointed betting on how stupid people can be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 3:54pm

    So... the PD's computers default to "landscape" when printing?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 3:56pm

    Re:

    *clicks the '-1 faith in humanity' button*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 4:08pm

    Re:

    Yeah, that's what I thought when I read that. Paper shredders don't work that way unless you're printing sideways.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 4:09pm

    Warrants

    And these people want us to trust them with access to our personal information without a warrant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Keii (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 4:24pm

    I imagine if you go home with a strip of confidential confettinformation in your hair, you're breaking some sort of law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 4:25pm

    I wonder if these reports were copyrighted...?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 4:25pm

    Re:

    Perhaps by Disney

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Re:

    We need a button like that for the articles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Zos (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 5:34pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    yes. yes we do. that would be an awesome community rating button to have. the more faith in humanity destroyed, the higher ranked the story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 5:44pm

    FFS If these people get any dumber they're going to be in danger of drowning in the shower.

    Cause of death: Forgot to look down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Starke (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 5:51pm

    Re:

    Shouldn't that be:

    Cause of death: Forgot to look down or close mouth

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Brian, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 7:09pm

    I believe it

    At my work were looking for a shredding company. One of the companies left small bags of shredded paper as their business card. We found SSN & other confidential info from the local university in some of the bags. We obviously went with the other company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 7:31pm

    You'd just hope that modern police agencies were smarter than that.

    Hope for the best, expect the worst.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 7:39pm

    "You'd just hope that modern police agencies were smarter than that."

    Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 9:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think even more important is a Sad But True button. ;-) or maybe ;-(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re:

    With any kind of half decent shredder (ie crosscut) it doesn't matter what way you put the paper in, it's cut into tiny little pieces that would be a nightmare to put together even if you had all of them in one place, and don't hold more than a couple of characters on a piece. The incompetence of using a shredder that only cuts into strips (don't know what the term is) for law enforcement documents is amazing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Wally (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 9:38pm

    Makes me wonder...

    Makes me wonder about how much evidence got shredded...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Wally (profile), Nov 26th, 2012 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Makes me wonder...

    Now that I think of it, they shredded their papers the wrong direction. I know when I shred any sensitive documents, I shred as closely from corner to corner as possible. This ensures that the paper shreds in a way to not let Social Security numbers be single digits and harder to piece together.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    JohnParry, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 11:17pm

    Shredders

    Hilarious. They're using the wrong type of shredder.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 2:06am

    Re: Shredders

    They're using the one with the two boarmen and mutant turtles?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), Nov 27th, 2012 @ 6:38am

    More breaking news on this story

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Nov 27th, 2012 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Shredders

    Except twice as incompetent and ineffective.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    Ya know - it could be a plant

    What is to stop someone who had electronic access to records they wanted "the public" to become aware of deciding to print out the records, shred them, then distribute at the parade?

    It might even move said holder of the electronic version beyond the ability for the detectives to find them. So long as they didn't use a printer with the dot patterns in the paper.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Joe Schmo, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Ya know - it could be a plant

    It is usual for any such system to record all access to the records and severely punish anyone who accesses them without cause. I think it is just carelessness.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2012 @ 12:14am

    a good sleuth will fig if out

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This