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Extreme couponing may have passed its peak, but it appears to be plenty popular in North Carolina. One community there has become the latest to report a rash of newspaper thefts, perpetrated by people trying to get their hands on the coupons inside.

Richard Anderson is responsible for filling newspaper stands throughout Greenville and the surrounding areas of Pitt County. And he says that not every paper he’s delivering lately, ends up in the hands of paying customers.

Anderson tells Greenville’s WNCT-TV that for the past six months, he’s been losing $400 a week because someone is stealing hundreds of copies of Greenville’s Daily Reflector, Raleigh’s News & Observer and other Sunday papers, and swiping the coupons.

“They’re welcome to buy all they want,” Anderson told the station. “But you can’t just take them like that.”

You can’t – but many do. Earlier this year, an Arkansas woman was captured on video paying for one Sunday newspaper from a coin-operated stand, and taking the whole stack. She was ultimately charged with stealing around 300 newspapers over a seven-month period.

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And last month, police in New York investigated complaints that two women were stealing Sunday newspapers right from their neighbors’ driveways.

Newspaper theft has always been an issue, though it gained renewed attention during the height of the extreme couponing craze a few years ago. And fueling the rash of newspaper thefts was the fact that many thieves weren’t just after coupons for their own use – they were looking for a cheap source of inserts to resell online.

And you can’t get cheaper than free – even if “free” means “stolen”.

The Newspaper Association of America reports that in recent years, more newspaper sales have been occurring inside stores, due to “the susceptibility to theft of the more expensive Sunday editions”. A spokesman told Coupons in the News, however, that the organization doesn’t keep statistics on whether thefts have increased, as interest in couponing has risen.

It’s perhaps some small comfort to newspaper publishers that, despite declining readership, their product is still in demand. That said, they’d probably prefer more paying customers. And so would newspaper vendors like Richard Anderson, who has to cover the cost of the stolen papers out of his own pocket.

He might just have to turn to couponing to help make ends meet. As long as the thieves don’t get to all the coupons first.

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7 Comments

  1. My poor husband owns a coupon book and his competitor keeps stealing them from all the stands he puts them out at,he has to pay the printer over 5000 dollars each month plus he delivers them,is there anything he can do? Thankyou

  2. I am a paper carrier. when people steal their neighbor’s paper, I have to pay a $5 fine to the distributor, per paper. I only get 20 cents to deliver it. if it happens to the same person twice, the fine goes up to $10. What am I supposed to do about people stealing papers? It hurts me more than the customer whos driveway it was stolen from. the customer gets a free re-delivery but I have to pay much more than the paper cost, for their complaint that they didn’t get their paper.

    • it doesn’t matter why the subscriber didn’t get their newspaper, I still have to pay a fine. The newspaper theifs are stealing from the carriers more than anyone else.

  3. IndustryWatcher says:

    I agree that people who steal papers are likely looking to sell coupons online or offer “clipping services”- Both of which are activities that discourage manufacturers from offering print coupons.
    These types of crimes discourage the providers who ultimately have to pay for both the distribution and redemption of these offers.
    If readers know anyone who would do this, discourage or report them if you want brands to continue to offer coupons via newspapers.

  4. Why don’t the paper ppl just sell inserts to solve thus problem below cost of entire newspaper…

    • its illegal for paper carrier to sell inserts because they are the property of the newspaper, not the carrier. Fired immediately if caught selling off inserts.

  5. Our area has stop filling the stands on Sunday because of this very thing, if we want to get a Sunday paper we have to go inside a store to get one. I do not think it a bad thing because of the stealing, it’s not right to pay for one paper and get the rest free. So I don’t feel sorry for those that have been charged with this type of theft.

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