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Newspapers pile

Newspapers are having a hard time getting people interested in buying papers these days. But they’re sure not having any trouble getting people interested in stealing them.

Plenty of overly enthusiastic couponers have been busted for swiping extra Sunday papers out of vending machines, or even out of their own neighbors’ driveways. Now, police in suburban Detroit are on the lookout for someone who stole more than a hundred papers from a local Walgreens before the store even opened – and they’re waiting to see if the thief strikes again.

Employees at the Walgreens in New Baltimore, Michigan called police a couple of Sundays ago, to report that all of their newspapers were missing. They said the papers are dropped off in front of the building at about 6:00 each morning. But the store doesn’t open until 8:00.

And someone saw an opportunity.

According to a police report, surveillance video showed a person taking about 100 newspapers out of three shopping carts parked in front of the building, about 90 minutes before the store opened. The person loaded the papers into a small sedan, and drove off.

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Unfortunately, the quality of the video wasn’t great, so police couldn’t make out the person’s face, or even their gender. So with little hope of identifying the culprit, the store’s manager asked police to check for any suspicious vehicles in front of the store on future Sunday mornings, after the newspapers are dropped off.

Unless one person was planning on going on a couponing spree, clearing shelves all over town, and needed a hundred papers to get as many coupons as possible, chances are good that the newspaper thief may have been looking to sell the coupons. Someone’s got to supply the booming online market for whole inserts and coupon clipping services, after all – and stealing 100 newspapers that are just sitting there, is certainly one cheap and easy way to do it.

Coincidentally, the Walgreens store’s initial complaint came on the very same day that police in South Carolina say two men were first observed stealing stacks of coupon inserts directly from a newspaper distribution facility. Those men were arrested and charged when they came back to pull the same stunt the next weekend. The New Baltimore Walgreens, meanwhile, tells Coupons in the News that its newspaper thief has not returned, since employees first called police.

But its Sunday newspapers still sit outside the store, tantalizingly, for at least a couple of hours before any employee shows up to bring them inside. At the rate some couponers (or coupon resellers) are seeking free papers however they can get them, vendors may have to start keeping them under lock and key, transporting them via armored vehicles and selling them only from behind the counter.

Until that time, if you buy coupons online and your source had some great Detroit-area inserts to offer a couple of weeks ago – at least now you know how they got them.

Photo by Valerie Everett

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