Colo. governor signs statute outlawing newspaper theft

Colorado has become the second state tooutlaw the theft of free newspapers.

The law, signed by Gov. Bill OwensApril 13, will fine thieves for taking more than five newspapers fromdistribution racks “with the intent to prevent other individuals from readingthat edition of the newspaper.”

The fines, which range from $1,000 to$5,000, vary depending on the number of papers stolen.

The law alsoprovides a newspaper publisher, advertiser or reader a private civil right tosue the individual or group that stole the newspaper.

Sen. Jack Taylor,R-Steamboat Springs, and Rep. Carl Miller, D-Leadville, sponsored the bill.Miller said he sponsored it because a number of newspaper thefts in Coloradowere brought to his attention.

Maryland enacted a similar law in1994.

SPLC View: While the passage of this law is certainly welcome news,it should not change the fact that traditional “theft” laws in otherjurisdictions continue to provide prosecutors with the authority they need topunish those who steal free newspapers.