Sticky fingered rack thieves

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I feel your pain.

We’re all feeling the pinch on our wallets/pocketbooks. Gas prices are once again spiraling upwards….the latest spike of nearly 10 cents per gallon this past weekend alone.

Been to a grocery store lately? Prices there are just as shocking as those at the fuel pump. I was there on Saturday (bad day due to the hordes purchasing bread, milk and eggs…fearing the worst with a forecast of an inch of snow). I purchased two, one-pound packs of beef stew; a lunch plate of hot wings and taters; a small bottle of Ranch dressing; and a Diet Dew. The price….27 bucks; ouch!

Everywhere I turn I see the price of goods and services going up, up and up. Health insurance, for those of us who pay our own way, is out of sight; the $6 lunch special at your favorite eatery is now two dollars higher; electricity costs are up over last year; and medical costs are high (you should have seen the bill I received for my wife’s gall bladder operation; which was performed as out-patient procedure).

I can’t speak for anybody else, but my paycheck doesn’t seem to go as far as it once did (and it didn’t go much beyond the basic necessities then either). But what I refuse to do in an effort to stretch a dollar is take something that doesn’t belong to me.

Fifty cents is an extremely low price to pay for a copy of a newspaper, especially in a day and age where the production costs to print it are rising as well. Here at Roanoke-Chowan Publications we do everything within our power to hold down the costs it takes to print five times a week (the R-C News-Herald on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; the Gates County Index on Wednesday; and The Shopper on Thursday). We constantly search our market for deals on newsprint, ink and printing plates….all in an effort to keep the price of our product the same it has been for decades – 50 cents.

So when we see (or someone calls and informs us) a person taking more than one copy for their 50-cent investment, it hurts our bottom line. You may think it’s only a half-dollar…what’s the big deal? Well, if one of our racks is freshly loaded with 50 papers and a person puts in 50 cents and takes them all, then we just lost $24.50. Multiply that by 75 racks, three times a week and we’re on the short end of roughly $5,500.

I received a phone call from a friend last week, informing me that he had personally witnessed a person taking every copy of one edition from one of our racks. It was a Saturday edition, meaning they were crammed full of money-saving coupons. We experience our highest rate of rack theft on the weekends due to those coupons.

Two things come to mind on this issue. One: what would happen to me if I entered the place of employment of one of our rack thieves, grabbed up some items for sell and walked out without paying? Two: If you are purchasing (at least one copy) of our Saturday edition only for the hundreds of dollars worth of coupons inside, then can’t you afford to pay 50 cents per additional copy if you are saving all that money?

Or three…..have you no compassion for those of us trying to keep our business doors open and provide much-needed jobs for your friends and neighbors?


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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