Stop, newspaper thief!
July 29, 2004 10:11 PM   Subscribe

Somebody steals my sports section and it chafes my morning. I live in an apartment building and I want to catch the tricksy thieving perp or at least let him know he's found. I'm not looking for anything retalitory, just devious. Any ideas?

For instance, errant porn in the box scores. It might make for an embarrassing bus ride...
posted by pedantic to Society & Culture (27 answers total)
Response by poster: I should add the paper is delivered to my door.
posted by pedantic at 10:21 PM on July 29, 2004

Get there first and coat the paper with a clear powder that turns to scarlet ink upon coming into contact with human skin.
posted by rushmc at 10:31 PM on July 29, 2004

Knock on other paper subscribers doors and find someone (like me) that discards the sports section as though it were radioactive waste.

Then stake out your door and beat the hell outta the miscreant while bellowing the apartment number of said fellow-tenant. Problem solved.

(Please note: hyperbole employed herein.)
posted by mwhybark at 10:58 PM on July 29, 2004

No, no no! Much better idea:

A. Put dogshit in the paper
B. When you decide that it is in your advantage to harm another human being, purchase an electric automatic Airsoft Rifle, preferably the MP5 variant. Purchase dark clothing, with a mask.

When the perp comes for the paper (allright you have to have to take speed or a large amount of diet pills for this to be effective) run up at them.....
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:59 PM on July 29, 2004

I lived in a downtown apartment with controlled access, and the newspaper delivery person did not have access to the residential area. Therefore, all newspapers were left on a bench in the lobby, and the apartment numbers were written on the corner of the paper. From time to time, my paper would turn up missing, as would others'. After several discussions, the enterprising deliverer began to leave an extra paper. Instead of an apartment number scrawled in the whitespace, the extra paper carried the word 'thief' in magic marker. The theft of newspapers stopped abruptly, and the thief's paper was never touched. While it doesn't exactly apply to your situation, it couldn't hurt to talk to the person who delivers your news.
posted by samuelad at 12:33 AM on July 30, 2004

Is the paper set on the floor outside your door? Tape a fishing line (clear monofilament) into the paper, run it under your door to a bell. Dude will never come back after he hears that and his worm-eaten heart jumps.
posted by planetkyoto at 12:40 AM on July 30, 2004

A minor piggyback question: is it okay to read the front page of the paper sitting outside your neighbour's apartment door? Even if you have to unfold the paper, but you leave it on the floor?
posted by nprigoda at 4:51 AM on July 30, 2004

I'd set up a wireless webcam and catch him in the act to identify him.
posted by crunchland at 5:35 AM on July 30, 2004

Just a tangential anecdote--I had a good friend whose family lived in the DC area, right around the corner from the house of Felix Bloch. I stayed with them a few days right around the peak of l'affaire Bloch, and the FBI, in all their wisdom, was keeping him under constant surveillance by having about a dozen teams of agents just sitting there in their cars.

You'd walk down the street in this really nice DC neighborhood, and every single parking spot on the street was taken by an American-made sedan, with two guys in the front seat wearing shades. Every single one. The obnoxious thing was that since they were there at the crack of dawn, they took every single sports section from the papers on the block. They would just sit in their cars, idling them non-stop for the AC, reading the sports section of your paper right in front of your face. My friend finally tried to confront them on it--not because he even read the sports pages, but just on annoying principle--and when he tapped on a car window, they just gave him a quick stone-faced stare and then ignored him. Elliott Ness would be proud.
posted by LairBob at 5:40 AM on July 30, 2004

So in other words, the FBI is stealing your paper. Time to become a covert operator.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:46 AM on July 30, 2004

Assuming you can get to the paper before him, remove the sports section yourself and leave the rest of the paper there.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2004

Get a paperbox with a slot or something?
posted by angry modem at 6:38 AM on July 30, 2004

Get up early one morning, and grab the paper as soon as it's delivered. Remove the sports section, and replace it with a blank sheet of paper, on which is written, in large block type, "STOP STEALING MY SPORTS SECTION. IF YOU WANT TO READ THE SPORTS, BUY YOUR OWN PAPER." Replace the paper outside your door, and hope that the perp achieves enlightenment.
posted by Zonker at 6:56 AM on July 30, 2004

Response by poster: I used to have troubles with my paper disappearing altogether. I contacted the newspaper company and they had the deliverer write my apartment number on it and that solved that.

The company didn't know where I could find a paperbox with a slot, surprisingly.

Thus far, I like taking the sports section out idea. It toys with them in a subtle way. On the other hand, they just might graduate to someone else's paper.
posted by pedantic at 7:21 AM on July 30, 2004

There are devices that you can attach to your door where the deliverer places the paper and it can't be released until the door is opened. Your newspaper co. should be able to provide this for you. Otherwise, you could buy this one. It's kinda pricey, but hey it comes in both paris racing green and marakesh red!
posted by Juicylicious at 7:27 AM on July 30, 2004

Sorry 'bout that, here's the link
posted by Juicylicious at 7:28 AM on July 30, 2004

Or, instead of removing the sports section entirely, replace it with last week's sports section. Almost as subtle, but with more entertainment potential.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 8:18 AM on July 30, 2004

Response by poster: Heh. Or even taking and making the entire inside sports sections. I have a bagful of Sunday sports I have yet to take to recycling...
posted by pedantic at 8:24 AM on July 30, 2004

get up early. wait. open the door when you hear someone going through the paper...
posted by andrew cooke at 8:39 AM on July 30, 2004

Kind of hard playing a trick on someone stealing your paper when the person has access to the paper before you. Call the paper and complain. Then go from there.

You cold put a note on your door; smile - I have cameras.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:39 PM on July 30, 2004

Set your alarm early. Get to the paper before he does. Put sticky notes saying "next time it won't be just a sticky note waiting for you, asshole." on the sports section.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:03 PM on July 30, 2004

The web cam idea is actually quite entertaining. I had this problem with magazines and newspapers disappearing from my street-side mailbox (and who knows what else really - these were just the things I knew were coming and didn't get). I set up my web cam just outside my front door (and cleverly hidden in a potted plant) and left it running for an entire two days. Went through the photos when I noticed I didn't get a newspaper I was expecting, and there was the perp with a date and time stamp right on it. I then printed out the image and taped it to my mailbox's door. I haven't had anything go missing since then (and the person knows I know who they are).

Had I been able to spend more time on it, I would have waited to see if they came at any specific time and casually happen to open my door just as they were ripping me off, but that's me.
posted by Orb at 3:36 PM on July 30, 2004

Not as entertaining and as satisfying as the camera suggestions, but perhaps you could ask the paperman to slip the sports page under your door into your apartment and leave the rest on the outside. Maybe without reward, the behaviour would extinguish.

(Two caveats, of course: the Globe and Mail sports section is really slim and there is enough space between my door and the floor.)

>Even if you have to unfold the paper, but you leave it on the floor?
You don't have to unfold it: turn the paper masthead down, then even less evidence!
posted by philfromhavelock at 8:01 PM on July 30, 2004

HEY, I have an idea.

Why don't you just print this page out tomorrow and tape it to the door. Highlight the dangerous ideas.
posted by shepd at 8:09 PM on July 30, 2004

I like shepd's idea.

Other thoughts:

Mean: Get up early, yada-yada, put red powder dye in the inner fold of the sports section.

Less mean: pepper or ultrafine glitter

Funny: stick one of these on top of the newspaper with a note - "this is what happened to the last guy who stole my sports section".

Boring: get a mail slot for your door.

Junior detective: Try to find out who is male (because the person probably is a guy), doesn't get a newspaper, and lives nearby you (I might be wrong on this one, but it doesn't seem like he would go very far out of his way to do this, right?). Then my guess would be that he is more likely not to have a wife or live-in girlfriend, and probably has a job that he goes to early in the morning (does this also happen on weekends?). He's not likely to seem extra anti-social or anything (after all, he does scruple at taking the whole newspaper, which is kind of amusing), and you know he's definitely a big sport fan. Now if this profile narrows it down to just a few guys, go in the middle of the night and, one by one (on different days), slip a sports section under each one's door, then wait and see if the thieving stops. The ones who aren't the thief will just scratch their heads, but the one who is the thief will think you know. (Under the door because otherwise the real thief would probably see it sitting in front of the other doors and catch on.) And actually, you will know. If it stops after you've done this to guy-three, for example, you can be pretty sure it's him.
posted by taz at 2:53 AM on July 31, 2004

A little Photoshop action could get you Jeff Goldblum Is Watching You Steal My Sports Section.
posted by Vidiot at 9:07 AM on July 31, 2004

Don't forget to tell us what happens...
posted by jopreacher at 11:52 AM on July 31, 2004

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