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USA TODAY: Extreme Couponing Leading to Newspapers Swipes!

Posted by Ro · August 18, 2011 2:50 pm

Check out this new article of USA Today:

Discount-seeking consumers swipe newspapers to pad savings
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Newspapers are mysteriously vanishing from racks across the country. Thieves are swiping Sunday papers from driveways, and others are digging through people’s trash looking for discarded newspapers.

Authorities and newspaper executives attribute the rash of nationwide thefts to “extreme couponing,” a growing trend in which shoppers use dozens — sometimes hundreds — of coupons at a time to vastly reduce their grocery bills.

The craze, authorities say, has been fueled in part by the recent TLC show Extreme Couponing. It features homemakers and couples stockpiling reams of coupons, filling up several carts of groceries at the store and buying hundreds of dollars’ worth of items for just a few dollars. The show also features shoppers wiping out entire grocery shelves, building additions to their homes to store the surplus goods and Dumpster-diving for discarded coupons.

The trend has prompted increased newspaper thefts as enthusiasts seek out even more coupons, police and newspaper execs say.

Recent incidents include:

  • An Arkansas woman was arrested Aug. 4 for allegedly stealing 185 copies of the Sunday Springdale Morning News. She told police she didn’t think the act was illegal.
  • Denton, Texas, police arrested a 37-year-old woman in June for allegedly stealing coupons from a rack of newspapers in front of a fast-food restaurant.
  • TheIdaho Statesman in Boise filed a police report in May after an employee saw a woman pilfering all the coupon ads from a newspaper rack after purchasing a single copy.

The swipes most hurt newspaper delivery people, who end up paying for the missing copies, says Sam Mazzzara, circulation manager at The Cullman (Ala.) Times, where thefts have jumped 30% this year. His paper ran a front-page story last month on the trend and offered a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Producers defend the show, which debuted in April, saying it helps viewers save money during tough times. The show doesn’t condone the thefts, says Matt Sharp, Extreme Couponing‘s executive producer. “More people than ever are couponing, and we’ve contributed to that,” he says.

Not everyone’s complaining. The coupon craze has bolstered sales at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., says Jim Puryear, vice president for circulation. The newspaper has seen an uptick in thefts at racks, and workers have chased away coupon-hunters from Dumpsters at the paper’s recycling center. Overall, the increased interest in newspapers is welcomed, he says. “We’re fine with the coupon craze and the show,” Puryear says. “It’s a win-win for newspapers.”

For more couponing tips and tricks, visit our Become A Coupon Pro page!

Read similar article from the HuffingtonPost. We’d love to hear you what you think. Thoughts?

(thanks @usatoday and reader who sent along this article via email)

  1. Brittany says:

    Same thing happened to me! I went to BUY my 10 copies, and only 1 had an insert! Imagine my frustration! I called our newspaper company, and they sent me 9 weeks for free!

  2. Kari says:

    That happened at my local Walgreens. All of the coupon inserts where taken out of the Sunday papers!!!

  3. tonya denton says:

    coming from someone whose family is supported by delivering newspapers i have to say, i can’t wait to see tlc’s show go off the air for good! yes, it is stealing and yes, the carriers end up having to pay for EVERY missing copy and in many areas their pay is also docked for complaints from individuals whose didn’t receive their paper at their home (mainly because it was stolen). i am all for couponing, but the rise in thefts and such is killing the folks who deliver the newspapers. so, next time you decide that swiping one or two extra inserts or snagging your neighbor’s paper sounds like a good idea, remember, it is THEFT and you are taking money out of someone’s pocket that would have gone to feed their family!

    • GFgirl says:

      I agree with you, it’s stealing, and wrong.
      I also think it’s wrong of the newspapers to hold individual delivery men responsible for stolen papers! If my paper is missing from my driveway in the morning, I’m going to call the company. I don’t want to feel guilty that some delivery man might be paying the price for my paper being stolen. I’m also not going to call the cops unless I see someone in the act of stealing, so what is a homeowner supposed to do? Just hope it doesn’t happen again?

      • tonya denton says:

        talk to you delivery person! my husband has actually given his cel number to every customer so if their paper is stolen they can call him and he will replace it without them having to call the newspaper office and complain. it’s a win win. he can get the paper to them much faster than if they call and complain to the office and he usually has several extra papers (including his personal copy) that he can use to replace it which means it doesn’t cost the customer or him anything more.

  4. Laura says:

    I’m finding that when I go to purchase a NEEDED item, they will be completely wiped out. Kind of frustrating. Hopefully the EXTREME of the extreme couponer’s are donating and not hoarding. Also, I’m not even getting my SmartSource or RedPlum inserts in the mail regularaly. All I’m asking is for courtasy to the consumer just trying to save and stretch their money. There is a woman in my area that gets to the store as soon as a sale starts and wipes out the entire stock of 2-3 items, then hits the surrounding chains as fast as possible. Please tell me these type of couponers are not the norm. = l

    • lois says:

      My niece used to work overnights clerking at Walgreens. She said people would hang out in the store till 12:01 am, and then take all the items that were free or really cheap off the shelves, and in some instances, wait till the the Sunday papers were delivered and buy as many copies as they needed to score their wanted items. Sometimes they would bring family members in to help out.

  5. Dawn says:

    who do I hold responsible for missing store circulars? Our SR had great customer cpns last wk….every SR circular on our street (5 hss) was missing), they left the other circulars…When I did get acopy and saw what the cpn were, I could understand the theft…but who’s responsible? Postal Person?

  6. JT says:

    extreme couponing worse show in the world because eventually it’s going to get all out of control (already starting) stores will make harsher rules and in time will do away with coupons altogether

  7. Jessica says:

    Sadly it only takes a few selfish people to ruin it for everyone.

  8. wendy agbay says:

    I cannot wait for extreme couponing to be cancelled! I am so tired of going to get a deal and the shelves are cleared! I use coupons and I am looking to save 20 to 30%, the show is not real…Some of the stores you see them at will allow them to double when the coupon policy clearly states it does not. Stores for this show also allow shoppers to use the wrong coupon. The show is giving regular couponers a bad name. I can’t imagine stealing inserts and papers!

    • amanda gurkins says:

      I so agree. I will get a couple of the same coupon for something I use and go to the store the day the sale starts and they are already out of it. I print most of my coupons. B/c of the show it has made it where most of the printable coupons are gone with in days of them being replenished.

  9. Stephanie says:

    Hopefully this is something that will go away. Being selfish and stealing goes to show what kind of person they are in real life. I would hate to be a person who steals and takes everything off the shelf. Shame on them for stealing and being so selfish. In the mean time dont give up and keep role modeling whats right!

  10. Laura says:

    I wonder how the people who steal or hoard sale items and coupons would feel if they went to buy their 10 Sunday papers and they had no inserts?! Or if everytime they went to the store for a single item and it was already cleared off the shelf. So, since they NEEDed the item, they will be forced to purchase a different brand then break out into a rash because they are allergic to the item they were forced to choose from.

  11. Nicole Rivera says:

    I like to save some money too but this is really going way toooo far!!!!

  12. Christy says:

    We have a jogger who we call the “coupon bandit” in our subdivision – not only will newspapers disappear from our subdivision after her jog but also on Wednesdays she will jog from recycle bin to recycle bin and dig out old coupon inserts — all while jogging in place!!

  13. k. goins says:

    I’m getting tired of asking for rainchecks. All I want is one or two items on sale to use a coupon on. Some stores do not even restock on the sale item after it runs out the first day of the sale. It may take the store a couple of weeks or so to restock. I have had my coupons expire before I can use them with the raincheck.

  14. Bella says:

    I have had my newspaper taken from my door step a few times, my neighbors has also vanished on the same Sundays. It really annoys me as I only get one copy and we actually do read the paper as well as use the coupons.
    They must came major early as I am usually up at around 5.30 – 6am due to kiddies.

  15. Rita says:

    The TLC show was a good idea but it has make the extreme couponing spiral out of control. They say they wanted to teach people how to deal with saving in this economy, I think if this was the real case then they would do all different types of couponing, not just people who grocery shop and before coupons spend over $500. I could understand buying large quantities for things that person would actually use but they buy things cause because they have coupons, they should offer it to charity, I mean why would someone need 300 deodorants in their stockpile? I live about 10 miles from Denton, TX and I remember this happening and it wasnt just this one person. Stealing is stealing and its gotten way out of control.

  16. Al says:

    I am amazed that so many people seem to have become self-centered and selfish. On the news every day I hear stories about the consequences of people who steal and say “I got mine, so what!” Its a sad situation all around. Perhaps the show could emphasize people helping each other instead of trying to outdo each other.
    I would much rather see or hear about a “clever”, not extreme, couponer who helps a dozen other families, than see some fool who can afford to build an addition on their house just to store the hoard of stuff that they don’t really need at all.

  17. sarah says:

    i went in to a local gas station a few weeks ago to buy 4 sunday papers for the coupon inserts. i had stopped at another station previously and looked through the 3 local papers to see which had the best coupons. that 1st station only had one of the papers i wanted. when i stopped at the 2nd station i just picked up 4 of the paper i wanted and then the cashier asked me if i was buying them for the coupons. i told her yes and she showed me that the papers had NO COUPONS. she preceded to tell me that her manager had a “deal” with a lady letting her come in and take the coupons out of the papers! the cashier wasnt too happy about it because she is the one who had to deal with angery consumers who actually were buying the papers!

  18. joanna says:

    Ok I TOTALLY get the not stealing papers or inserts. But if someone goes into the trash (not a crime FYI it is LEGAL) what is the issue once it is at the curb it is fair game. Personally I won’t do that it is gross and I am only a small time couponer, but who cares if they take what others do not. It takes more things out of the trash. Stealing of the papers is wrong I do agree and I would hate to find my paper tampered with.

  19. Chrissy says:

    I have taken the inserts from the FREE gazettes from my subdivision, but I always wait a day or two after they are delivered, and if they are still sitting outside by the curb then I figure they dont want them anymore anyways. Most people just end up throwing them out each week since everyone gets them by default and most dont take the time to contact the company to stop delivery at their address. I would NEVER take a sunday paper that people pay for though.

  20. kacey says:

    This happens to me all the time. I have paid for sunday papers in the store, only to ride home and realize that someone took the inserts. Now I always double check any paper before I buy it! Also, I think it’s ridiculous that some people have to spoil the fun for everyone. I have so much fun with couponing, I really truly enjoy it. However, stealing papers, clearing the shelves, and stocking up on items that you are never going to use or donate is going overboard and excessive.

  21. kristi says:

    I have started couponing since seeing the show… I would NEVER steal the Sunday paper for the coupons though… I am starting my own small stockpile but ONLY of things I will personally use. But then I don’t think most would consider having 4 bottles of shampoo truly a stockpile LOL…
    I pay to have my Sunday paper delivered.. It would really tic me off if someone stole it… I’ve been lucky so far *knock wood*

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