Thieves strike three more campuses; five student papers stolen in one week

Articles about elections, a drug bust and an impending trialare just a few examples of what fueled three of the five studentnewspaper thefts around the country last week.

American University’s student newspaper, The Eagle,found 25 percent of its total circulation missing after announcingits student council endorsements in its Feb. 25 issue. In all,1,500 copies of the 6,000-copy press run were taken from the maindistribution bins of the Washington, D.C., university.

"When the endorsement came out, there were good thingsabout some candidates, and not so good things about some candidates,"staff writer Margaret McElligott said.

The endorsement editorial mentioned the strengths and weaknessesof each of the prospective candidates with comments ranging froma campaign being one-dimensional to questioning a candidate’sability to reach a "compromise without conflict" betweenstudents and administrators.

"People are taking the elections a little too far,"senior Tara Castillo said. "I was surprised and a littleupset that people in our school would stoop to that level."

The incident is considered "isolated" and connectedto "endorsement time," said incoming editor Brett Zongker."It’s annoying and difficult but we had enough for the week."

In another theft incident, The Maneater did not faretoo well with 17 out of 77 locations targeted Tuesday evening– all central distribution spots on the University of Missouriat Columbia campus.

The staff does not know what triggered the alleged theft of5,400 newspapers, although editor Patrick Terpstra cited an articleof particular interest to the Greek community as a possibility.

"The only story we had that was controversial was on agang rape situation that occurred four year ago and was just nowgoing to trial," Terpstra said, "that and a crime blotterthat lists names and crimes."

Police are being cooperative even though they hesitate to classifyit as larceny. "Can’t say that a crime was committed becausethere is no way to prove that those papers were stolen,"Terpstra said he was told by police.

The Maneater ran all of the Feb. 26 headlinesin its online edition, but Terpstra lamented on how easy it wasto "rip off the paper" and have the crime go unpunished.

He was, however, heartened by the staff’s reaction. "Itmakes people want to fight. If nothing else, it shows that peoplecare about what we print enough to steal 5,400 papers. It showsthe power of journalism."

The power of journalism apparently triggered the need to recyclenearly 1,000 papers at another campus. Dorm residents at EmporiaState University encountered about a foot deep of shredded newspapersFriday morning with a note stating "This is a TEST! Thispaper is the same crap you read in The Bulletin! Do yourpart to recycle! Join us!"

Editor Chad Rummel suspects that about 800 copies of TheBulletin were taken Thursday evening in response to a commentaryon a recent campus drug bust.

The "Smoke your weed … just not here" commentaryin the Feb. 25 edition of The Bulletin reflected why studentshad a right to feel safe in their own dorm rooms.

Authorities at the Kansas campus are treating the incidentas vandalism and housing director Jim Williams encouraged thenewspaper to "follow through on the theft aspect."

"We are working with police and safety," Williamssaid. "If we determine who is responsible, we will take theappropriate judicial action." Traditional judicial actionranges from financial restitution for damages to expulsion.

Newspaper thefts also occurred at the University of SouthernCalifornia on Feb. 22 and the University of California at Berkleyon Feb. 26. Last week’s thefts bring the total to 16 campuseshit during the 2001-02 academic year.

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.