During my fifteen years in circulation, Iíve seen a number of unbelievable things and heard just about every excuse in the book from people caught stealing newspapers. Here are a few examples that may astonish you.
ďIím just picking up my neighborís paper while they are out of town,Ē or ďWe have a problem with dogs in the neighborhood and I didnít want it to get chewed up.Ē
This, despite the fact that the neighbor isnít out of town or that the roaming dog is owned by the person caught taking the paper. On one occasion, I watched as a carrier delivered a paper between a storm door, only to witness, five minutes later, a neighbor bold enough to walk right on the porch and take it from between the doors. Iíve heard stories about large amounts of papers taken from the doors of convenience stores before they open, only to be found for sale at flee markets for a reduced rate. My favorite has to be the home health nurse that was dropping 50-cents into a newsstand and taking all 20 papers.
ďIím just taking them to my patients who canít afford a subscription,Ē she said.
Unfortunately, her employer was involved in a program that supplied papers to the elderly free of charge, so her excuse didnít fly.
What most people do not understand is that when they take more newspapers than they pay for, they are not stealing from the company. At nearly every newspaper in the nation, carriers are not employees, but are independent contractors. This means that they buy the papers at wholesale, and sell them for retail. So when a paper is stolen, it is the carriers who lose the money.
All of this has led me to my point. How low have the morals of Americans gotten when they stoop to stealing newspapers?
It may start with a newspaper, then escalate to a candy bar or soda. As a father of three, I think itís important to set a good example and to guide my children in the right direction. Who knows, it may be that petty criminals were never taught as young children the difference between right and wrong - and that if they want a newspaper, they should buy one.
Daryl Robinson is the Circulation Manager for the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at 968-2379, ext. 226.