WYOMING — Laramie County Community College studentjournalists do not believe their monthly publication has become popularovernight — they believe someone unhappy with the newspaper has stolenmore than 300 copies of the March edition, making the newspaper unavailable oncampus.Ashley Colgan, co-editor of The Wingspan, said thenewspaper was published March 8 and copies began to disappear the nextday.”It was too fishy,” Colgan said. ”We’venever had them all go missing within a day.”Colgan said shesuspects more than 300 newspapers have been stolen from a press run of 1,000.Colgan estimates the newspaper lost about $1,083 in advertising revenue and thecost of labor and printing.Colgan said the newspaper staff has a coupleof suspects, but no concrete evidence to prove that they wereresponsible.Colgan said she believes the theft stemmed from an editorialshe wrote about the student government’s attempt to bring tobacco sales tocampus. She said a student government member she quoted in the editorial wasupset because he had been quoted and told the newspaper’s adviser that thenewspaper should be censored.Colgan said the quote was taken from aformal interview she conducted with the student. ”He then wrote usa letter to the editor,” Colgan said. ”And he became upset when weprinted his letter to the editor.”Colgan said she filed complaintswith campus security and the Laramie County sheriff’s office. She said thepresident of the college has also ordered a full investigation into thetheft.Ron Bailey, manager of campus security, said that after receivingthe report from The Wingspan, trash bins were checked on campus, but nopapers were found. He said campus security did turn over the names of thesuspected students to the student services office, which handles studentdiscipline. Bailey said that if there is enough evidence, the students might bebrought up on disciplinary charges.”We’ll keep our eyes andears open and continue looking into this matter,” Bailey said.”Hopefully somebody will come forward with what theysaw.””The one problem that we have with the individual wesuspect is there is no proof of his involvement,” Colgan said. ”Sowe’re kind of stuck, but if we get solid evidence, we definitely want topursue it.”Colgan said she sheriff’s office consulted withthe county’s district attorney, but because there is nothing written inWyoming law about the theft of free newspapers, the district attorney did notconsider the theft a criminal matter.Prosecutors in other jurisdictions havepursued charges against newspaper thieves under existing theft or propertydestruction laws.”The sheriff told us we can take it to civilcourt,” Colgan said.Members of the newspaper staff brought up thenewspaper theft at the March 16 Associated Student Government meeting, butColgan said the student government members claimed to not know anything aboutit. Jon Forwood, the district attorney for Laramie County, did notreturn requests for comment.
Visit the SPLC newspaper theft forum