California governor approves newspaper theft law

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this month signed a bill into law makingit illegal to take multiple copies of a free newspaper off the racks inCalifornia.

The law makes taking more than 25 copies of a free newspapera crime when they are removed “to sell or barter the papers, to recyclethe papers for cash or other payment, to harm a competitor or to prevent othersfrom reading the paper.”

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SPLC View: A second set of kudos to the Governator. WithSchwarzenegger’s signature, California became the third state to enact a lawexplicitly criminalizing the taking of free newspapers. (Colorado enacted asimilar law in 2004 and Maryland in 1994.) While such laws can help pave the wayto a successful prosecution, it is important to keep in mind that newspaperthieves have been successfully prosecuted under existing statutes in stateswithout a specific newspaper theft law. For more information on suchprosecutions and newspaper theft generally, including our essential NewspaperTheft Checklist, visit the SPLC Newspaper Theft Forum at: