WEST LAKE HILLS, Texas (KXAN) - After thousands of private financial documents were discovered sitting in a wide open community recycling dumpster on Thursday, their owner, homebuilder D.R. Horton made good on a promise to retrieve them.
KXAN received a ReportIt tip late Thursday morning that the dumpster was full of personal documents that included home loans, copies of personal checks, purchase orders and site plans all on display in several large bins on several school campuses in the Eanes ISD.
The paperwork dates back to 2000 and included stacks of personal loan papers for new homes in Killeen, where the deals closed in 2005.
KXAN also found old company purchase orders for concrete used to pour foundations in developments in Manor as well as complete site and engineering plans for projects in Pflugerville.
After discovering the documents, KXAN called the local sheriff’s office.
"Let me make a phone call and see what we can do," said Deputy Forrest Bauldin, as he filled out a report to pass along to financial crimes detectives. "Number one, get this emptied, and two, see whose it is."
Later a Sheriff's Office spokesperson said no laws were broken since the person who dumped the documents had permission from the school district where the containers are located.
The mystery of who dumped the valuable personal information in such a public place began to unravel Thursday when Eanes Independent School District’s safety and risk manager arrived.
"This is a community box," said Laura Santos-Farry. "It’s never been questioned before."
KXAN learned that a D.R. Horton IT manager is married to a former teacher at the local high school. He simply wanted to help the school’s recycling program. The recycling company pays the school for each ton of paper it collects in container on each campus.
A D.R. Horton spokesperson told KXAN the IT manager took dozens of boxes of documents away during the recent clean up of a company warehouse.
The first drop-off discovered was not the only bin containing private documents from the company.
"He used several (bins)," Santos-Farry said adding the drop-offs were made Monday, leaving the sensitive documents unattended in easily-accessible, community dumpsters for four days.
A check of nearby elementary schools revealed three other recycling bins filled with D.R. Horton papers.
In the early morning hours Friday, two separate individuals came to remove the documents. One drove a U-Haul. A second came in a personal vehicle.
Neither person would identify who they were. But thousands of documents were loaded into plastic garbage bags and hauled off.
The company released a statement Friday afternoon. While they did not respond to a request to outline their document disposal policy or if it would change as a result of this incident, a spokesperson said:
"Maintaining consumers’ privacy is extremely important to D.R. Horton. In an effort to help a school district raise money by recycling paper, we disposed of a large number of outdated D.R. Horton records.
We have learned that a very small number of the files may have inadvertently included documents containing information about customers.
We have retrieved the documents from the recycling bins and they are secure in storage. We are reviewing the documents and events and if we determine that anyone’s sensitive personal information was compromised, we will contact them directly." - Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton.
Publicly traded D.R. Horton based in Ft. Worth, TX, is the nation's largest homebuilder and has been in business for more than 30 years, according to its website. It is currently building new homes in various communities in Central Texas from San Marcos to Georgetown.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.