Metro Police Authority warns residents to shred personal information before throwing away

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SWARTZ CREEK (WJRT) (04/17/2019) - Police are warning the public not to put their personal information out to the curb.

Earlier this week, police say a trash bag bandit struck in Swartz Creek, tearing open trash bags set out for pickup. They believe somebody went through the bags of trash Sunday night or Monday morning.

They do not know if it's an individual or a group. They're asking the community to be on the lookout for suspicious activity on garbage pickup days.

"Our concern would be that they're trying to maybe steal your identity," said Sgt. Greg RaCosta. "They're looking for official documentation with your name, Social Security numbers, banking information."

RaCosta said Republic Services contacted the Metro Police Authority on Monday after finding more than 100 garbage bags ripped open.

They're now investigating and asking neighbors to keep their eyes and ears open for suspicious activity on garbage pick up days.

"I don't put any documents in the garbage that I wouldn't want anyone to see," RaCosta noted. He said shredding is a good option.

Residents shopping in Swartz Creek on Wednesday said they are trying to be extra cautious.

"Before I left the house I shredded stuff," said Denice Royster, a Grand Blanc resident. "I said I'm going to do the best I can so they cannot get my identity."

John Karbowski admitted he's rather lax in this area:

"I'm going to be honest, I probably don't shred my papers as much as I should," he said.

Troy Baker with the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan said the fact that the incident coincided with tax day is concerning:

"You look at what's on your tax return, it's got your information, birth dates, Social Security numbers," he said ."It really is a treasure trove for identity thieves."

Police say It's not illegal to dig through someone's trash. Anyone who sees suspicious activity is asked to call 911 and avoid confronting the person.

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