Those newspapers you just nabbed? They’re not yours if you didn’t pay for them

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By Stacey Manning, Managing Editor

Do me a favor, if you don’t mind.

When you’re finished reading this column—and please, do finish it—will you close the newspaper and take a look at the front page? 

A lot of things may jump out at you, like the picture of a surfer taking on the waves before Hurricane Irene passed by last weekend. 

Maybe you’ll notice the big headline proclaiming the county was spared by the storm. You might even be interested in the picture of a downed tree in Calabash.

But what I want you to look at requires you to look closer. You may even need your eyeglasses.

Just below our masthead (the newspaper’s name) you’ll see a single line that tells you how many pages are inside this paper, the edition and volume number.

You’ll also see these words, “75¢ per copy.” That’s right, 75 cents. 

That’s how much we charge you each week for this newspaper. Quite honestly, we think the price is a steal—although not literally—for the high-quality news, advertising and information brought to you by an experienced and award-winning staff.

And if you don’t pay by the week, you can subscribe to our newspaper right here in Brunswick County for $30 a year—about 58 cents an issue.

Like I said, that’s a steal for the good stuff you get and the amount of work that goes into creating it.

But that doesn’t mean you should steal it.

Hey, dumb-dumb, it’s a crime; don’t do it.

But breaking the law doesn’t seem to deter some of your friends and neighbors right here in Brunswick County and, unfortunately, it’s an industry-wide problem.

We understand these are hard times, but we are a business. We have a product to sell and we need to recoup the cost of its production, and hey, we don’t mind making a profit if we can.

However, some people just don’t care. Recently the return of coupons to our weekly edition—which we believe will help us sell more copies—has increased the compulsion for some thieves to steal as many newspapers as they can get.

Some people deposit 75 cents into a newspaper box—remember the price for one—and grab as many as they can carry.

It’s illegal. It’s stealing, and worse, these same people aren’t generally the kind who’d walk into a department store and stuff a pair of jeans up their shirt—they are mothers and fathers, grandparents and others who all hope to nab as many coupons as they can to save as much money as possible—apparently even the 75-cent source that makes them available.

Others don’t take entire newspapers; they ransack them and take coupon inserts from other copies.

That means when good, honest customers pay 75 cents for a newspaper, they’re getting gypped—not by us, but the person who illegally snagged part of their paper.

A customer recently watched a woman do this very thing right here in front of our office. She paid for one newspaper and took several more inserts. When she was confronted by a colleague, she denied the snatching, even though her lap was full of coupons she didn’t purchase.

Remember, stealing individual newspapers—and coupon inserts—is a crime. If caught, violators could be prosecuted, as they should be.

Just ask Sybil Hudson of Denton, Texas. She was arrested in Texas and faced up to $4,000 in fines after witnesses caught her stealing newspaper inserts.

That’s a big price to pay for a newspaper that costs less than a dollar.

If you’re at a newspaper box and see someone doing this, please speak up. Tell them they’re not just stealing from a business that supports this community, they’re stealing from their honest and hardworking neighbors.

If you want extra coupon copies, stop by our office and we’ll sell you as many newspapers as we can.

Just please stop stealing from a company that works hard to provide you with information about this community.

 And please, stop taking from your friends and neighbors. They likely need to save—honestly—just as much as you.