BOUNTIFUL -- Despite the loud noise coming from the shredder as piles of paper were tipped into it, seniors remained undeterred by the commotion, standing close enough to witness their personal documents being destroyed.
"I can't afford a shredder," said Bountiful resident Winanne Brady, who brought confidential papers in plastic grocery bags, as well as several compact discs and address labels.
The community shred held Friday in the parking lot of the Golden Years Activity Center was sponsored by Davis County Senior Services, the Utah State Health Insurance Assistance Program and the Senior Medicare Patrol.
The purpose of the event is to protect the privacy of seniors by offering bulk shredding of their unwanted personal documents.
Before the shredding concluded, 120 area seniors had taken advantage of the program.
"This is a good service," said Bountiful resident Mike Chidester.
If he had to shred all of his personal documents with the small office shredder he has at home, he said, it could take up to a week and might even burn up his machine.
The increase in identity theft has made it important and necessary to provide seniors a place to bring sensitive documents to be destroyed, said Michael S. Styles, assistant director of the State Division of Aging and Adult Services.
In conjunction with area agencies, Styles said, the state has been working since April with Shred Masters, a private firm that offers bulk shredding as it travels from one end of the state to the other.
Styles said the oddest thing he has run across is someone in Monticello with a box of personal documents -- as well as fresh rat droppings.
"The rat was gone," Styles said, "but we didn't think it was far."
There was also an instance when officials came across two new MP3 players among documents that were to be shredded. The individual who brought the material was unaware of the well-hidden Christmas gifts in the box until the last minute, when the devices were spotted and spared.
Among the kinds of papers brought for shredding were utility bill receipts, check stubs and lots of no-longer-needed tax documents.
But seniors generally keep private what they bring to have shredded, said Jimmy Lozano, an operator with Shred Masters.
North Salt Lake resident John Pepin, when asked Friday what he had brought to have shredded, replied: "What my wife gave me to shred."
And then, after giving the question a little more thought, Pepin added that his documents were mostly credit card receipts.
"In the old days," he said, "you didn't have to worry about (identity theft) as much."