Thrifty Thieves Stealing Coupons

Newspaper delivery man blames TLC reality show for inspiring coupon thefts

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    Call it a coupon caper.

    A thrifty thief keeps stealing the coupon packet from the Sunday editions of various newspapers in Denton County.

    James Johnson said the crook hits his newspaper boxes about 25 times a week.

    The trouble started six months ago, but the last six weeks have been the worst for Johnson. The thefts got so bad, he hired a helper to watch over his boxes on Sunday morning.

    "Extreme Couponing" Blamed for Newspaper Coupon Thefts

    [DFW] "Extreme Couponing" Blamed for Newspaper Coupon Thefts
    A thrifty thief is stealing coupon packets from the Sunday editions of various newspapers.

    "He'll sit in another parking lot with binoculars, watching to see what's going on because we keep getting hit constantly, " he said.

    The extra eyes are helping -- he has turned over 11 thieves to police officers.

    "Three weeks ago, I caught a girl [who] said she just moved from L.A., and it was no big deal in L.A.," Johnson said shaking his head. "[I] had a guy, he'd steal everything in town -- one guy alone. He was driving a Cadillac Escalade."

    Johnson said the coupon packets can offer savings from $180 to more than $400, making it tempting for thieves interesting in pinching pennies. And some thieves sell the coupons online to other coupon-cutters, he said.

    But Johnson also has another theory on why thieves target coupon packets -- inspiration from TLC's "Extreme Couponing," a reality show that chronicles the lengths extreme coupon-cutters will go to get deals.

    "Well, here they (the show) started up again, so for the last six weeks, it's just been a constant," he said. "I can go up and down, and every rack is the same way -- open it up [and] no plastics."

    Johnson said if a coupon packet is not in a newspaper, he can't sell it. That costs him money.

    Denton police spokesman Officer Ryan Grelle said some people try to skirt the rules of buying a newspaper when no one is watching.

    "When you put your cash in, whether it be 50 cents, 25 cents or a $1.50 for the Sunday, the rule
    is one paper," Grelle said.

    The crime may seem petty, but it carries a fine that can cost you money or jail time.