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By Chris Frost
Tri County Sentry
Camarillo-- Local residents had the opportunity to dispose of their unwanted personal documents; Saturday, June 5, as Ventura County CrimeStoppers hosted a free shredding event and fundraiser for the organization.
Attendees drove their cars full of old items that needed secure disposal to the Camarillo Police Station, and volunteers unloaded the vehicles and dealt with attendees' documents securely.
According to statistics, identity theft affects nearly 15 million people each year, and the cumulative loss is $50 billion.
Ventura County CrimeStoppers’ Treasurer Robert Gardner said his group provides a shredding service to the community, which helps stop identity theft, which a major ongoing crime.
"We're also accepting donations which fund our program," he said. "We provide a means for people with knowledge of crimes to make a report anonymously and aid law enforcement in solving a crime. When that results in a successful arrest, we pay out a reward."
Gardner got started with CrimeStoppers in 2013.
"We are a community board of all volunteers and have no paid employees," he said. "Our administrative costs are low, and all the donations directly benefit the community through providing the tip mechanism and rewards."
Gardner had a career opposing fraud, and when he decided to change careers, he wanted to continue helping the community fight against crime.
"So, I joined the board," he said. "So far, we've serviced about 150 cars, and they're providing boxes to be shredded," he said. "As part of our Covid-19 response, we are having people stay in the car, and we're getting the boxes out of their trunk. We have as little contact as possible."
He has no idea what people are shredding.
"The whole idea is for it to be confidential," he said. "It goes straight from the boxes, into the bins, and it gets shredded."
Janet Gardner said she's at the event helping out her husband, Robert.
"I'm a volunteer," she said. "We've been planning this for the last couple of months, as soon as we heard the organization was planning this shredding event. We usually have a box full of shred stuff anyway, and it was a matter of locating it, getting it prepped, and making sure it made it to the car. Since we're volunteering to help, we grabbed everything else, chairs and whatever else, and almost forgot our shred box."
This was her first time helping CrimeStoppers and her husband at the event.
"We help each other out," Janet said.
Rosie Castillo has been helping CrimeStoppers for about 15 years, and she's currently sitting in as vice-chair for the group.
"We raise funds for this organization, and that's what we are doing today with this shred event," she said. "A donation is completely tax-deductible, and it goes to helping fight crime."
If you missed the event, she said there would be more events coming in the near future.
"We're on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter," she said. "I'll be putting information on these sites when we're having another event. If you contact us, we will let you know."
If someone has a tip, call 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) from anywhere in Ventura County.
For more information, visit www.venturacountycrimestoppers.org.