Junk yard cars bring mounds of personal information left behind - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-Team Investigation

Junk yard cars bring mounds of personal information left behind

Jeff Angell of City Auto Parts and Scrap Metal Recycling Jeff Angell of City Auto Parts and Scrap Metal Recycling

While it is not something most people probably think about, it affects nearly everyone.

Some may not keep a whole lot of items in their vehicle, while for others it could get pretty personal.

The Eyewitness News I-Team went out on junk yard patrol, to find out what happens to the documents, information and more that drivers leave in their cars after they get totaled or towed away.

Salvage yards like Carona's Auto Parts in Hartford can be a sea of sensitive information

The I-Team dug through junked out, smashed cars, loaded with personal information like names, addresses, insurance cards, bank deposit slips and more.

Finding something like a checkbook is a treasure trove for any identity thief.

Jon Carona is a third generation owner, and he said he sees it all.

"People get into accidents and never retrieve their vehicles. They leave personal information in there," Carona said.

Also in Hartford, Jeff Angell manages a busy City Auto Parts and Scrap Metal Recycling, and a few months ago the business became a "pick and pull."

For $2, "you can come into the yard, sign a waiver, that way we are not responsible if you get hurt, and go through the cars and pick anything out that you can carry," Angell said.

In damaged leftover cars, Angell said the company pays someone to go through all of the cars to pick out all of the trash in the cars, like credit cards, checks and other items with personal information attached.

Caronas is not open to the public, but it could be some day. Though they see some break ins, it usually is for scrap metal.

The State Attorney General George Jepson said that the personal information kept in a vehicle should be protected.

"It's about having the right mindset. One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. All of us need to be hyper vigilant because a lot of people out there would love to have information you gathered."

Some of the things found during the investigation were attempted to be returned to owners, however phone calls had not been returned.

"If you're going to get rid of a car, take all of your information with you," said Carona.

The Department of Motor Vehicles said there are no laws in Connecticut requiring salvage yards to clean junk cars out before allowing customers to sift through them.

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