WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) – County officials are using the teeth of a giant mobile shredding machine to take a bite out of crime.

Westchester County, in an effort to keep residents from becoming victims of identity theft, is launching a truck that will go around shredding their unwanted personal papers.

County Executive Andrew J. Spano on Wednesday planned to introduce the shred-mobile, a $60,000 vehicle the size of a newspaper delivery truck. A demonstration was to be held in the parking lot of the Playland amusement park in Rye.

The truck, which can shred 150 pages at a time and hold up to 1 ton of shredded paper, will begin destroying documents Nov. 3 in Playland’s parking lot during one of the county’s Household Chemical Clean-Up Days, when the county helps residents dispose of environmentally harmful trash such as paint, cell phones and tires.

The truck will destroy residents’ unwanted personal documents, including preapproved credit card offers, which could be used for identity theft, county spokeswoman Susan Tolchin said.

“It’s raising public awareness and physically doing something to help our residents prevent their identities from being stolen,” said Tolchin, who said she knew of at least one other government, in Arizona, that offered a shred-mobile to the public. “We don’t want Westchester residents to have to go through the heartache, misery, aggravation and financial loss of having their identity stolen.”

The county will work with city governments and nonprofits to arrange Shred-a-Thon Days, when residents can take their personal papers to the truck and have them shredded, Tolchin said. The initiative is not for profit and will not be offered to businesses, she said.

The county will recycle the shredded paper.

Tolchin pointed out that the county has been proactive in battling identity theft and had asked county employees’ health insurance company to remove Social Security numbers from health cards. The county also offers tips on its Web site to prevent identity theft.

AP-ES-10-24-06 1921EDT


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