In the past two weeks there have been three unrelated incidentsof newspaper thefts on college campuses. At one school the thieveshave been caught, but in the other cases the motives are unknown.
At the University of New Mexico, 2,000 copies of the DailyLobo were taken prior to distribution on Nov. 14. After discoveringthe shortage, editors rushed an order to have those copies reprinted,costing the newspaper an additional $180.
Later the same day, nearly all of the missing copies appearedaround Albuquerque campus with the addition of a flier. The insertwas a campaign advertisement encouraging students to vote fora certain political party in the student government elections.
In a letter to the editor, the nine candidates whose namesappeared on the flier apologized to the Daily Lobo forany "inconvenience" they caused the paper, but theyrefused to admit to any wrongdoing.
"Since the Daily Lobo is a free student publication,with student fees going to publication, and since we are all students,we do not see a problem with putting our flyers [sic] into theDaily Lobo," the letter said.
Daily Lobo editor Iliana Limon said she has had a hardtime educating the culprits that stealing newspapers as an infringementon the paper’s press freedom and expecting free advertising hasnegative financial consequences on the newspaper.
"They are starting to understand the severity of the crime,but still do not comprehend the full implications of their actionson our newspaper," Limon said.
The incident is being handled by the student government asan election procedure violation, and not a newspaper theft. Thenine students were ordered to pay the student government a fineof $85.50 each for violating election rules.
Limon said she has not received any reassurance from the universitythat the thieves will be punished independently from the punishmenthanded down by the student government. She is also unsure if theywill recover the financial loss from the incident.
In another newspaper theft, an estimated 700 copies of TheBaker Orange, the weekly student newspaper for Baker University,were stolen on Nov. 16.
The issue contained a controversial article about the university’slack of investigation into date-rape charges on Baldwin City, Kan., campus,which might have contributed to the motive for stealing the papers,said editor Andy Woolard.
The incident occurred on a recruitment day,causing some speculation that the administration might have hada hand in the disappearance of the newspapers. The universitydenies any involvement in the theft, and the president personallycalled Woolard to give his support.
A police report was filed, but no one has been charged. Woolard,said, "If the police implicate anyone, I will definitelypursue charges not only because of the financial loss, but moreimportantly for the broader reasons of violating our rights."
Newspapers were also stolen from Richard Stockton College ofNew Jersey, in Pomona, on Nov. 8. Copies of The Argo wereplaced in distribution bins on Monday, Nov. 5, and by Thursdaythey were gone.
Shaun Reilly, editor of The Argo, said a large percentageof the 3,500 issues printed were missing, and that the vanishingof all the papers is highly unusual. Even though Reilly has noevidence as to who stole the papers, he said the incident mightbe in response to two separate articles in the issue. One articlepertained to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the collegepresident and another article about vandalism to student cars.
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.