Publishers of the recently introduced Lancaster Post say they're having a problem keeping their newspapers on the shelves of Turkey Hill stores in Lancaster where they're offered free of charge.
They suspected such a great and sudden removal was not a question of popularity. So they set up surveillance after restocking the stores and very soon their suspicions were confirmed. They found people were taking the papers in bunches from a number of display shelves.
"A tall lanky man got out of the minivan he was driving, sauntered across the parking lot, walked into the store, spent a few minutes and came out with my entire stack of newspapers," said publisher Ron Harper Jr. Harper did not disclose whether the party was identified.
Harper estimates as many as 6,000 of their papers have been taken by one person. He believes it's in response to a controversial story the Post did about two Franklin & Marshall College students.
The paper contended the students got preferential treatment in what they say was the burglary of the Iron Hill restaurant in the midst of the Franklin & Marshall campus and situated under residences for upper class students.
In one case, an entire roadside box of newspapers was taken. The boxes cost several hundred dollars, so this would be larceny.
Harper talked to police about the thefts. Police said they haven't looked into the case yet, but they wonder what crime has been committed since the paper is free.
Harper said the incidents are thefts which are hurting the newspaper. "We have advertisers that have paid thousands of dollars to us to get our readers and now those advertisers are not getting their money's worth," he said.