Shredded confidential police documents discovered in Macy's parade confetti

Students from Tufts University who attended this year's Macy's Parade were showered with confetti made from shredded, confidential Nassau County police files. The shreds revealed the identities of undercover officers, including their SSNs and bank details.

"It landed on her shoulder," Finkelstein said, "and it says 'SSN' and it's written like a Social Security number, and we're like, 'That's really bizarre.'"

Finkelstein, a Tufts University freshman, said he and his friends were concerned and picked up more confetti that had fallen around them.

"There are phone numbers, addresses, more Social Security numbers, license plate numbers and then we find all these incident reports from police."

The documents were apparently from the Nassau County Police Department.

Police documents found in parade confetti [UPI] (via /.)

(Image: IMG_2528.JPG, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from supa_pedro's photostream)


  1. Its nice to see a positive story about the police once in a while!
    They could have just thrown it all away

    1. Heh, I had a similar reaction!

      Shame to see sensitive material being exposed, but at least they’re not clearing forests to produce confetti (the thought of which makes me want to cry).

  2. Seems like the police need to get in touch with whoever they pay to handle their document destruction and have a little discussion about how they conduct their business.
    I imagine most companies recycle their shred in some manner. Here are some examples from Nassau County:

    What Happens to the End Result? Is Storage Quarters a “Green” Company?

    You bet we are! We destroy and then conquer by helping to protect our ecology. We strongly adhere to environmentally-sound and ethical paper shredding; meaning, that once your data is ground up the cardboard and paper residue is baled and stored in our secure accommodations. After the information is completely destroyed, baled data is then submitted to the recycling paper mills around the area.

    We Recycle: 100% of the paper we shred gets recycled!

    When you choose Time Shred Services for your document destruction and paper shredding needs, you are not only getting a superior document shredding service, but you will be partnering with a company whose philosophy it is to value and protect the environment now and in the future. We help protect your privacy while at the same time creating a reusable resource that will save trees and will help to protect our environment.

    Once my documents are shredded, what happens to them?

    Our equipment and machinery bale the paper into large bundles of one ton, which then get sent to paper mills for recycling. This process ensures that your documents or gone forever. It also has a positive effect on the environment and helps the worldwide conservation effort.

        1. The DARPA challenge paper was crosscut.


          Here’s an interesting paper not related to the DARPA challenge:

          TL:DR Version: We can do this with single sheets down to 15×15 cut. Anything smaller just requires more computing power and possibly some human interaction to improve error checking. It would be interesting to try this with multiple sheets.

          1. I think the biggest lesson from the DARPA challenge was to burn confidential documents. It is the only way to ensure that documents aren’t reconstructed.

          2. So, if you collected every bit of the confetti, digitized it, and ran the output through a proprietary and probably classified algorithm, the information could be reconstructed?  That’s a far cry from “phone numbers, addresses, more Social Security numbers, license plate numbers and then we find all these incident reports from police.”  I think the original article is very very overblown.

  3. Oh now they’re just taunting us; ‘You wanted to see all our dox. Here have ’em *throws confetti* HAPPY?!’

  4. I’m of the opinion that high security documents should be shredded by a high quality shredder (~1 mm by 5 mm) and then burned. It isn’t particularly expensive compared to the cost of revealing confidential information that could impact the privacy of workers and the public. Or worse, it could risk the lives of undercover officers or informants.

  5. hmm made me think of the nature of confetti. let’s shower ourselves in the sliced up, dry corpses of another species in full celebration.

    we are a funny bunch.

    1. Another “species”? Try another kingdom! 

      Seriously – unless you’re currently walking about in your altogether, you are covered in the corpses and off-products of other critters, not to mention the tenjillion species of flora and fauna living in your gut.

  6. Until recently I worked in a building where a lot of police worked. Their recycled paper was securely treated but the cleaners were in the habit of taking a sheet from the recycling and putting it in the bottom of rubbish bins to make them easier to keep clean. One of those sheets was found in the rubbish with sensitive information on it.

    1. There was always some idiot in the hospital who thought that we should cut up patient lab printouts and use them for scratch paper.

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