Higher prices for recycled newsprint have caused a surge in newspaper thefts, the Berkeley Daily Planet reports. The thefts have prompted publishers to form a coalition to push police to enforce a new state law prohibiting such thefts and persuade recycling centers to not accept large quantities of newspapers with recent dates on them. The thefts also led the East Bay Express to hire a private investigator to catch the perpetrators. Zelda Bronstein of the Planet writes:
- “On his first night out, early on Dec. 12, the private detective caught and filmed the man and an accomplice in the act. The thieves ended up in front of KMC Paper, a recycling business on Oakland’s Poplar Street, where they were met by eight police cars. The man lacked a driver’s license, and his pickup truck had no license plate. He was issued a citation, and his vehicle was impounded.”
According to East Bay Express president Hal Brody, the truck contained more than 500 copies of the Express and nearly that number of Bay Guardians, as well as substantial numbers of the Daily Planet, the East Bay Daily News, Bay Area Business Woman, Classified Flea Market, El Men-sajero, El Avisador Magazine, Diablo Dealer Auto Mart, Bay Classifieds, and Jobs and Careers.
One underlying difficulty is ignorance of the law on the part of recyclers, the general public and even some police, the Planet notes. The Express’s private investigator spent 20 minutes on the phone convincing the Oakland Police dispatcher that stealing free newspapers is a crime. It became a crime in California last January, when AB 2612 went into effect.