California, Maine campuses struck with newspaper thefts

CALIFORNIA — An estimated 1,000 copies of Wednesday’sDaily Californian were stolen in an apparent response toan advertisement paid for by the Ayn Rand Institute titled, "EndStates Who Sponsor Terrorism."

Fliers calling for a boycott of the University of Californiaat Berkeley’s independent student newspaper were found in placeof the stolen copies. The fliers, which were not attributed toany person or organization, said the ad was "irrational andinflammatory," according to an article in The Daily Californian.

The full-page ad was an opinion essay written by Ayn Rand Institutefounder Leonard Peikoff. His comments call for the eliminationof "Iran’s terrorist sanctuaries" and the use of militaryweaponry in "bringing down every branch of its government."

"It’s definitely an attempt to violate our free speechand the free speech of the newspaper," Ayn Rand InstituteExecutive Director Yaron Brook said of the theft. "It’s aclear attempt to silence one side of the debate at Berkeley."

The University of California Police Department at Berkeleyis investigating the theft. Capt. Bill Cooper said while policehave some leads, there are no real suspects.

This theft incident marks the ninth time in five years thatThe Daily Californian has had issues of its newspaper stolen.University police have failed to arrest anyone in conjunctionwith the past crimes.

"It’s been difficult to catch people doing it in the past,"Cooper said, sighting that the thefts occur "every once ina while" and not with any regularity. Cooper said officershave been told to keep an eye on the distribution racks for TheDaily Californian in order to prevent future thefts.

In an unrelated incident, approximately 1,000 copies of thestudent newspaper at the University of Southern Maine were stolentoday.

The Free Press is published every Monday, but copiesare available throughout the week for students to pick up at newsracks on campus. Today, however, the paper was alerted that copiescould not be found at any of the major distribution points.

After investigating the claim of missing copies, ExecutiveEditor Steve Peoples filed a theft report with the campus police. Peoples said the police are taking the incident very seriously.

The Free Press has a written policy allowing studentsone free copy, with additional copies costing five cents.

While there are no named suspects, Peoples said the theft mightbe related to a feature in this week’s issue about Greek life.The feature about sororities and fraternities on campus containedstudent opinions, many which shed negative light on Greek life.

Peoples said on Tuesday and Wednesday members of the Greeksystem confronted him "yelling and screaming" aboutthe opinions in the paper. "There was a real negative responsefrom the Greek community," he said.

Visit our Newspaper Theft Forum, featuring a checklist of things to do before, during and after a theft, along with our past coverage of theft incidents.