CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo (KFVS) - It was an identity thief's dream--original birth certificates, social security cards and high school diplomas all found in a dumpster. Heartland News was contacted by a viewer who found the items in a dumpster behind the Armed Forces Recruiting Center on William Street in Cape Girardeau.
We counted dozens of high school diplomas representing students from Chaffee, Perryville, Sikeston, Dexter, Jackson and Cairo. In eight of the diplomas were the birth certificates, social security cards or both.
Heartland News contacted the family of one of the students and learned he is a member of the National Guard and originally from Gordonville. The parents of Sergeant Doug Gross say he is relieved to know the documents were found by someone responsible.
"He was so very thankful that the gentleman found them," said Sheila Gross.
Rich Gross says he knows just how dangerous it can be to have this information floating around unsecured.
"I have a friend who had his ID stolen," Gross said. "And I don't know how many cars and boats he owned before they finally caught up to the person who did it."
Heartland New contacted the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine recruiting offices on William and we received this statement from Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Byrom:
"A new recruiter to the Cape Girardeau, MO Air Force Recruiting Office was cleaning out old files, and was separating Privacy Act information from non-controlled documents, consistent with rules and procedures taught annually to Air Force members. The recruiter inadvertently missed a limited amount of Privacy Act information while disposing non-controlled information. The Air Force is actively working with the disposal company involved, as well as the media outlet to which these materials were given, to recover any improperly released information. We take the protection of Privacy Act information seriously and will be contacting those individuals whose Privacy Act information was or may have inadvertently been released. We will take corrective actions with respect to this deviation from Air Force regulations."
In the meantime, Sergeant Gross is relieved to know his information has been recovered. Heartland News is working with the Air Force to get the documents back in their hands.