Following a paper trail

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You’ve probably heard of following the paper trail. 

But in this case we have a literal paper trail on our hands. 

On Monday, KELOLAND News received video from a viewer, who noticed legal papers blowing around Phillips Avenue just outside of the parking garage next to RH Johnson Plaza, which is home to a seven tenants, including a bank, a real estate office and three law firms.

Those papers included divorce decrees, child support documents and tax forms, many with personal information like names, addresses and even social security numbers.

We sent a photographer and called police to notify them about the documents. 

Police say the papers came from a dumpster in the parking garage. 

Our photographer collected some of the papers, which we turned over to police, so they wouldn’t stay in the street. 

We talked with the building’s property manager on the phone. 

He doesn’t know how documents with sensitive information got in the trash. 

He says all of the building’s tenants have shredding policies and, at times, the public will use the dumpster. 

As for how the papers got in the street, he says someone was going through the dumpster, tore open the bags and left the papers strewn on the ground. 

While there are still questions surrounding the papers in the street, Mariah Crisp is sure of one thing: 

“It’s scary,” Mariah Crisp said. 

The Brandon mother was confused when we contacted her to tell her one of the papers had her name and social security number on it. 

“But the part that scared me the most was they have all my kids’ information as well,” Crisp said. 

The Better Business Bureau says scammers can do a lot of damage with your sensitive information.

“These are all the things that are necessary to steal a person’s identity,” BBB State Director Jessie Schmidt said. 

It doesn’t take long when they have the internet right at their fingertips. 

“So they can open fake accounts with your name and information, order new credit cards and have them shipped to a different address so you may never know about it,” Schmidt said. 

“It’s a scary place out there. They could steal my identity. It made me feel like me and my children were put in harm…I don’t know how to explain it,” Crisp said. 

Initially, Crisp wasn’t sure how any of the building tennants could have access to the document we found, but after looking through her own records, she discovered one of the law firms in the building, Dougherty and Dougherty, was involved in a family legal proceeding.

When we asked Pat Dougherty about the papers, he did not confirm the documents came from his office and said they shred all paperwork that contains sensitive information and if any of their documents ended up in the dumpster, it was an accident.

As for the dumpster, the property manager says it now has lock on it so no one can get into it. 

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