Buying a local newspaper and clipping out the coupons is an age-old tradition, serving as an innocuous way to save a little money at your favorite retailers. It certainly never was something worth getting arrested over.
But, it seems, that latter part is changing.
“Newspapers are mysteriously vanishing from racks across the country. Thieves are swiping Sunday papers from driveways, and others are digging through people's trash looking for discarded newspapers,” reports USA Today.
The Cullman Times in Alabama has seen thefts of its paper jump 30 percent this year, according to USA Today. In response, the paper ran an article in a Sunday edition last month addressing that very problem, offering a $500 cash reward for any tips on thefts that lead to a conviction.
“We have already collected the descriptions and tag numbers of several residents who have been seen taking more than one copy (of the newspaper) or thumbing through a rack pulling out the manufacturers coupons,” the article said.
Cullman Times circulation manager Sam Mazzara told USA Today that the swipes most hurt newspaper delivery people, who end up paying for the missing copies.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that an Arkansas woman was arrested for larceny after stealing old Sunday papers from outside a store. An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette worker reportedly set up a stakeout that led to the arrest.
“Carriers who were stocking up bins and area grocery stores were seeing their Sunday papers flying off the shelf. But the sales receipts weren’t adding up,” the LA Times reports.
The LA Times also reprinted a portion of the police report that detailed the modus operandi: “It appeared that the male subject was standing around as a lookout while the female was loading the papers into the trunk … When the witness tried to contact the pair, they hopped into the car ‘after only taking two bags of newspapers’ and sped out of the parking lot.”
Who to blame? Maybe the medium that has helped push newspapers to the brink of extinction in other ways already: TV.
The cable network TLC broadcasts a show called Extreme Couponing. It features shoppers wiping out entire grocery shelves, building additions to their homes to store the surplus goods, and dumpster-diving for discarded coupons, says USA Today.
This has led to a growing trend also known as extreme couponing, in which shoppers use dozens — sometimes hundreds — of coupons at a time to vastly reduce their grocery bills, USA Today reported.
The paper goes on to note that authorities partly blame the rise in newspaper related crimes on the craze created by the show.
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