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So you’re the son of a bitch who’s been stealing my newspaper

The nerve of people. This just plain pisses me off. Every week — or close to it — one of my neighbors steals my Sunday newspaper, unless I get up early enough to take it before they can. Sometimes they leave me the front section and steal the rest of it (including all the ad inserts). More often, they take the whole damn thing. They never take my newspaper any other day (how nice of them). If I’m gone for the weekend and come back Sunday night, my Saturday paper will still be there, but I can rest assured that my Sunday paper will not. Obviously, they want the ads.

One of the many demerits of living in an apartment building — in addition to sharing walls and having sound leak from one unit to the next — is that, apparently, some people think that also means you share your Sunday newspaper and they are free to take it if you leave it there past 10 a.m.

In you are such a person, you need to STOP. If you don’t pay for the newspaper, don’t take it from someone who does. I don’t care if it sits there for four, eight, 16, even 24 hours. It’s not yours. Leave it where it is. If you take it, you are a rude, inconsiderate jerk. If I catch you, I will give you a stern talking to. I will call you rude to your face.

That doesn’t sound like much, but, really, it is. This isn’t a cartoon world where a stolen newspaper warrants an ass-kicking. In the adult world, getting caught stealing a newspaper and getting sternly reprimanded by one of your neighbors should be an embarrassing moment if you have any sort of neighborly conscience. Then again, if you had a conscience you wouldn’t be such an ass to take something that doesn’t belong to you every week.

It’s not like it’s a HUGE deal if they steal my newspaper. I work at the newspaper, so I can easily get myself another copy on Monday. But sometimes I want to be able to sit on my couch on a Sunday afternoon and read the Best Buy ad. Is that so much to ask?

In this case, it’s more a matter of cumulative annoyance. This inconsiderate ass has been stealing my newspaper nearly every Sunday for three or four months. I’ve reached the end of my rope. It’s a matter of principle. It needs to stop. At the same time, I can’t bring myself to go through the trouble of a stakeout or some other elaborate sting.

So, what I’ve settled on is the sabotage method. I’m going to set my alarm for 5 a.m. Sunday (which should be plenty early enough to get my paper before the thief does) and I’m going to swap out my paper with an old Sunday paper from three weeks ago. Inside that paper will be a very prominent, very unmissable note that will call this person out on their behavior. My hope is that this will set them straight and they’ll stop.

If not, then I’m dealing with a bona fide jerk-off, and I may need to come up with another plan. I just think that it’s sad that it has to come to this.

But I can’t silently take it anymore. The Dude minds. This aggression will not stand, man.

Bonus points to whomever guesses the quoted reference of the headline of this post.

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15 comments on this post

But what if Michael J. Fox *is* the thief?

I got used to living in an apartment where things could be left in the lobby if I wasn’t home. Then I had to change practices after packages started getting stolen; anything from was liable to disappear, anything else was usually safe. What is it that possesses people to suck?

Jammer, this is not ‘Nam. There are rules.

Good idea. I agree this person is a jerk. I think getting up at 5 a.m. might be too early, though. We don’t get our paper until 6 or later–especially on Sunday. Check with the carrier first so you won’t get up for nothing!

If you are going to get up at 5a anyway, why NOT do a sting operation?

You would have a few options as far as I could think:

1. Watch out your peephole all day. Is the paper stolen EVERY Sunday. Can you tell a consistent time when it is stolen?

2. A better idea (IMO). Get a fishing line (or some other near invisible string/line) and attach it to the paper. Run the line underneath your door and tie it to some bells or other noisemaker. That way, you can watch some football quietly on TV, and wait for the culprit to take the bait.

3. It would be awesome if you could come up with a dye pack like they use in bank robberies or something.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I dislike this note idea. If you are going to do it that way, at least bluff a little and say I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WILL CALL THE POLICE THE NEXT TIME YOU STEAL MY PAPER.

Otherwise, I really think you need to seize the day, Jammer. Turn this shitty situation into a huge opportunity. Buy an airhorn and get a camcorder. When you see the paper getting stolen, jump out screaming and blairing the airhorn, scaring the living shit out of the guy.

Post it on the internet with the background story and become famous. You’ll be the next numa numa kid for sure. Bonus points if you jump out naked.

Hide in the shadows with an electo-atomizer (or a camera with a bright flash) and blast the dude!

I think Mappo has a great idea.

By the way, only in a “STRICT LAND” would a BACK dated newspaper FROM weeks ago a use in THE FUTURE.

While more extreme measures might seem appealing, my response is one of intentional restraint for a reason (hence my including both “please” and “thank you” in the note).

I think one key here is not to go too far over the top. Resorting to physical pranks or other forms of embarrassment could create unnecessary ill will with someone I’ll still have to see in the building in the future. I don’t want to be on unnecessary bad terms with them if I can avoid it.

For now, I’d like to keep it discreet and just let them know I don’t appreciate what they’re doing. If that doesn’t solve the problem, then maybe I’ll take more aggressive action.

Of course, the inevitable result of this is that, at best, the thief will simply take somebody *else’s* paper.

Even better – do the string thing so that when the jerk comes and commits their latest theft, you can jump up, slam open the door, and snap a polaroid. Follow them back to their apartment lecturing them, so you know where they live. Then post the photo and their apartment number in the lobby, with a large note explaining why their photo is in the lobby with a large note on it.

Bonus points if you actually snap the photo with them holding your paper looking like a wildebeast watching the croc rising out of the water towards them.

So…today is Sunday. Any updates?

We won’t know until next Sunday whether the stealing continues or not.

I put the note in the paper and positioned it outside my door such that I would know if it had been moved. It was obviously moved, all the way to the center of the hallway and down the hall about six feet. So whoever tried to take it obviously got my message. They returned it intact. (But there was no reason for them to take it since it was three weeks old.) Now we’ll have to see if they change their behavior. Next Sunday.

Are you at the end of the hallway?

If not, at least you have a clue as to the direction of the culprit’s apartment.

Also, if you used both the note and the old paper, is it possible they picked it up and just realized it was an old paper without finding the note?

Isn’t this what wireless spycams were invented for? Well, this and catching rogue IMF agents stealing the NOC list.

Well, it’s Monday again. What happened?

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