For just over a year, Palestine Herald-Press newspaper carrier Debbie Stark has spent many nights filling up newspaper racks all over Palestine.
As a contract laborer for the paper, she picks up each day's issue and keeps close count of how many papers are placed in and taken out of those racks... and she is frustrated.
“I am getting $100 to $200 worth of papers stolen each week,” Stark said Thursday. “Last quarter, I lost $2,100 due to newspaper rack theft.”
The thefts occur when a subject pays for one paper out of the rack, and when they open it to take the paper, they take more than one copy — sometimes as many as 15 copies.
“What a lot of people don't understand is that, when they steal these papers they are not stealing from the Herald-Press, but are stealing from me,” Stark said.
According to Stark, the greatest amounts of theft occur on Saturdays, likely because of inserted coupons, and on Tuesdays, likely due to weekly grocery ads. The racks with the highest theft rates are located in front of the Herald-Press, at the Kim's Convenience Store near Jack in the Box, at Mr D's Convenience Store, at Palestine's McDonald's location and at Valero.
Herald-Press Circulation Manager Candy Facklam reported that the newspaper has taken measures, including installing video surveillance at the Herald-Press, to deter rack theft but they are just not as effective as they need to be.
“We have two people on video that come every week at about the same time and take handfuls of the Saturday paper,” Stark said. “We have been in contact with the police and they have said they will do what they can to help.”
Facklam and Stark are asking for help from citizens to deter newspaper rack theft.
“If you see someone taking extra papers, get their license plate number and a description of the vehicle,” they said. “Take a picture of them/the vehicle, if possible.”
Report that information to Facklam at 903-729-0281 or by visiting the newspaper office at 519 N. Elm St. in Palestine.
“I am frustrated and I just want it to stop,” Stark said. “I just don’t understand it.”