Extra! Extra! Desperados are hijacking newspapers from stoops and lobbies around Manhattan and reselling them on the street or direct to bodegas for quick cash. This ‘paper caper’ has been happening around the Upper West Side since the summer of 2020, reports the New York Post. The scam has since spread to Chelsea and the Upper East Side.
ILTUWS spoke to Upper West Sider John Taylor, a resident of West 68th Street, who informed us that his “paper problem had been going on since July of this past summer.” Taylor, who’d been a subscriber to the NY Post, cancelled his subscription last week. “On the days that my paper was stolen, someone [from the NY Post] would redeliver my paper later that day,” said Taylor.” That wasn’t enough for him to keep his subscription though, as news gets old quick, especially in the digital age when you can access content online.
John Mainieri, a resident of West 76th Street, told the NY Post “People are desperate. They’ll try to resell anything that isn’t nailed down.” Mainieri detailed that just two weeks ago his “entire block” had their weekend edition papers swiped from their steps and foyers. This problem has lingered “on and off” for the last year and a half for them.
Stories on newspaper thefts have also been shared on Facebook group Upper West Side Together. One group member wrote that her husband “witnessed the thief following the paper delivery man down the block [West 79th Street] stealing the papers that had been delivered.” A building surveillance camera was able to catch an image of the suspect, “but with mask and hat couldn’t be ID’d,” the group member noted.
A thread was also started on Nextdoor about the matter. “For the past three weeks nobody in my building has received a weekend paper (TIMES or other),” wrote a resident of West 65th Street. She went on to say, “I am sick of calling the TIMES: they are not doing anything and anyhow the problem is with the delivery company as no one in the building is getting ANY papers.” Another Upper West Sider replied, “We were able to contact the Times delivery company, arrange to get them a key to our lobby, and we haven’t had a problem since. The number we called was Mitchell Delivery.”
Vice president of Mitchell’sNY Newspaper Delivery, Alan Fafal, told the Post that newspaper thefts are a “big problem” which began in the “West 70s to West 90s” amidst the pandemic in the summer of 2020. “We would have our carriers seeing these homeless guys trailing them. They would wait and take,” he said.
“Some of our carriers would try to confront them, but we told them not to because it’s not worth it,” Rafal said before stating the harsh reality that if a carrier is not able to get inside a building, “newspapers can easily be stolen. … We can have thirty-plus newspapers stolen in an instant.”
Mitchell’sNY has delivering newspapers and magazines since 1946. The company is now stamping its home-delivery newspapers with a message: “If you bought this paper from a store, you have bought a STOLEN paper, go back and get your money back!”
The NYPD informed NY Post that an individual stealing newspapers would face a petit larceny charge. The Post also cites, “Petit larceny has spiked 17% in 2022, with 7,516 in January compared to 6,450 the same time last year.”