Cheap shredding choice backfired on TransLink

Released documents reveal more about transit ticket heist

A book of 10 FareSaver tickets from TransLink.

The theft in June 2010 of $153,000 worth of prepaid transit tickets before they were to be shredded might have been avoided if TransLink paid an extra $10,000 for more secure shredding.

Two former employees of Urban Impact Recycling were charged in October with theft and fraud after a large number of FareSaver tickets went missing from Urban’s Richmond warehouse and then began surfacing on the black market.

The FareSavers were to be destroyed because TransLink raised fare prices in April 2010 and new prepaid tickets were being rolled out at the higher prices.

A Freedom of Information request shows TransLink considered the more secure option of having a contractor come and perform the shredding work on TransLink property – at an estimated cost of $17,000 for 30 skids of FareSavers.

But supervisor Yvonne Scott decided to instead send the skids to Urban for off-site shredding at the cheaper price of $7,124.

“Please send off-site,” she told another staffer in an email. “We don’t have $17k in the budget for this. I assume you use this company regularly (and) are comfortable with the security processes they have in place?”

Scott was assured TransLink regularly sent secure documents to the off-site contractor for shredding.

Later in 2010, transit security and police began finding people illegally selling FareSaver booklets for about $19 at Broadway Station, in Chinatown and out of the trunks of cars – all with the old prices and serial numbers that matched the tickets that should have been shredded.

Transit Police alleged 80,000 tickets worth $153,000 were stolen by Patrick Robert Parry of Surrey and James Gordon Hemenway of Vancouver, who both make court appearances in January.

TransLink has refused to disclose exactly how many FareSaver tickets went missing and all references to the total or their value were redacted from the released records.

But the documents suggest the heist – if it was limited to $153,000 – could have been much worse for TransLink.

Each pallet sent to Urban contained 36,000 FareSaver booklets (of 10 tickets each), TransLink records show. Since each booklet was worth at least $20 and 30 pallets were sent off-site, the total value of the tickets sent for shredding exceeded $20 million.

The documents also show new procedures took effect in 2011 requiring TransLink use on-site shredders and have its staff present to verify that tickets or passes are properly destroyed.

When on-site shredders aren’t available, the work can be sent off-site but must be supervised by both a TransLink employee and a Transit Police officer.

 

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