Thrifty Thieves Stealing Coupons

Newspaper delivery man blames TLC reality show for inspiring coupon thefts

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Call it a coupon caper.

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

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    A thrifty thief is stealing coupon packets from the Sunday editions of various newspapers.

    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.

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    A North Texas woman is on a mission to stock local food pantries, one coupon at a time.

    "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.

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    Put away the scissors and turn off the printer. Online coupons just got easier.

    "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.