An apparently avid reader of the El Dorado News-Times was caught on tape Monday evening stealing an entire rack of newspapers at the Tobacco Superstore on Hillsboro Street.
A weekday or Saturday edition of the News-Times costs 75 cents, while Sunday papers are $1.50.
“Unfortunately, this is an ongoing problem at several locations,” circulation manager Daryl Robinson said. “Inherently, the newspaper rack system is an honor system. You put in 75 cents, you get one paper. But some people put in 75 cents and get out 14. People may thing they’re stealing from the newspaper, but they’re actually stealing from independent contractors who are trying to make a living.”
Newspaper carriers, including businesses that sell single copies of the daily paper and those with delivery routes, contract with the News-Times to sell the papers, purchasing the papers in advance of their publication and keeping the proceeds of single copy sales or a portion of subscription fees. Newspaper racks are automated newspaper vending machines.
In the video, the rack raider can be seen paying 75 cents and proceeding to take every paper inside except the display copy in the rack window. Robinson said similar thefts have taken place at racks located at Andy’s and Doe’s Laundromat in El Dorado and Little’s Grocery in Parkers Chapel.
Lt. Chris Lutman, public information officer for the El Dorado Police Department, said a person could be charged with misdemeanor theft of property for the crime; however, prosecution could be more difficult.
“It’s a little tricky because it’s a misdemeanor, so you’re not going to get the kind of detective response on that since it’s not a felony,” he said. “Let’s say we see a person on the street corner selling those papers – you’d have to prove that he stole those papers and is in possession of them illegally.”
Robinson reported the thefts to the El Dorado Police Department yesterday. No suspects have been identified yet.
In October, 2017, several newspaper racks were stolen from around El Dorado. Newspaper racks can weigh about 100 pounds, according to CNN, and in a video, the thief was seen carrying a rack by himself and dropping it as he attempted to load it into his vehicle. The suspect was arrested that month, but records of his arrest obtainable by press-time yesterday.
Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or [email protected]