San Francisco enacts laws to curb newspaper theft
CALIFORNIA–The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in early March unanimously passed legislation designed to stop newspaper theft. The new ordinance dictates that the removal of more than one paper from a newsrack or street corner, regardless of whether that paper is free or paid, is a misdemeanor with possible fines up to $500 upon conviction.
The ordinance would impose tough sanctions against those who improperly take newspapers for the purpose of reselling them or to keep others from reading them.
In addition, the ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for recyclers to buy newspapers they know were stolen, again with fines up to $500. Recyclers will be required to record the name, address, driver’s license and license plate of anyone who brings in more than 100 pounds of newsprint.
Ted Fang, publisher of the San Francisco Independent, who lobbied the board to enact the laws, reported that the recent newsprint crisis led to a huge pay-out rate for newspapers at recycling plants, and caused newspaper thefts at racks and other distribution points to skyrocket.
The Independent, a paid door-to-door paper, has had its bundles stolen off street corners before they could be distributed, according to Fang.
Fang reported that while most of the bulk removals have been of free papers, all of the papers in the San Francisco area have been affected to some degree. (San Francisco Municipal Code, Part II, Chapter 8, Section 630)