Police investigating theft of 2,300 newspapers at Calif. university

CALIFORNIA — Police at theUniversity of California at Santa Barbara are investigating the theft of morethan 2,300 copies of the Daily Nexus, the campusnewspaper.Newspapers were taken from racks Jan. 14 and thrown intogarbage cans and recycling bins, said Brendan Buhler, the newspaper’seditor. Members of the newspaper staff found 2,393 papers in 10 trashcans.Buhler reported the theft to the campus police. He said each newspapercosts about 50 cents to produce, so the Daily Nexus lost nearly $1,200from the theft.“When we first tried reporting it, the police toldus that free papers can’t be stolen,” Buhler said. When thepolice were told that there was a charge for additional copies of the paper,they began to investigate the matter as a theft. Signs posted on distributionracks notify readers that the first copy of the paper is free and eachadditional copy is $1.Campus police officer Mark Signa said that becausethe newspaper put a value on the paper, stealing it is a crime. Without thesign, the papers would be considered free and taking more than one would notconstitute theft, he said. Signa said there are no suspects, but policeare interviewing witnesses and going over tapes from video surveillance oncampus.“There are some people of interest that we’re lookingat,” Signa said.Signa said the thief could be charged with aseparate count of petty theft, a misdemeanor crime, for each location the paperswere stolen from. If found, the perpetrator could face a fine and up to one yearin county jail. Signa said the police department is handling the case,but it will keep the dean of students informed. Both the police and theuniversity could take action if the perpetrator is a student.“Itis obviously a very sensitive issue,” Signa said. “[Nexusstaff members] are concerned over what happened and are taking itpersonally.”Buhler said he didn’t know why the newspaperswere stolen.“If I had to guess, it was probably somebody whowanted to keep their name out of the paper,” he said.DailyNexus staff members discovered the theft after a student government meetingon Jan. 14. At the meeting, students said they were unable to find copies ofthat day’s paper. One student government member saw an unidentified manthrowing away a large stack of newspapers.Buhler said that at first hethought the newspaper was having delivery problems because “not every rackwas hit.” When he saw the pile of newspapers in the trash can, he called aphotographer, staff members and the police.The Daily Nexus hasencountered newspaper theft in the past. In 1997, thousands of copies of thenewspaper were stolen by the then-student government president who was broughtbefore a campus disciplinary committee.

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