After police refuse to investigate, colleges reprimand thieves

Every year, many newspaper thieves go unpunished because local and campus authorities cannot locate a suspect, or because they choose not to investigate the incident.

But some newspapers, such as The Exponent, a student newspaper at Purdue University, are able to win restitution after they have fallen victim to thieves.

In June, the university ordered a fraternity to pay $350 to the newspaper after school administrators found the group responsible for stealing 4,000 copies of the publication.

Staff members began receiving complaints last October that newspapers had been stolen from delivery sites across campus.Bundles of the student newspaper eventually were found in a trash container behind the Theta Xi fraternity house.

The university also found the fraternity responsible for stealing copies of several other newspapers as well, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Fraternity officials did not respond to requests for comment.Pat Kuhnle, publisher and general manager of the student newspaper, said a student disciplinary board ordered the fraternity to pay the printing costs of stolen copies of The Exponent, but the group was not fined for stealing the other newspapers.While there was no clear reason why the fraternity stole the newspapers, Kuhnle said it probably was part of a prank.

Neither the Purdue University police department nor the West Lafeyette police department pursued criminal charges against anyone in the theft.

At Drexel University, administrators sent letters in April to students who were involved in the theft of hundreds of copies of The Triangle, a student newspaper at the private Philadelphia school.

The university also sent a copy of the letter, which discussed the newspaper's monetary loss because of the theft, to the students' home addresses.In February, up to 800 newspapers were stolen from at least one building's distribution rack and used as a prank against another dorm resident, according to Chris Duffy, editor of the newspaper.Editors at the newspaper were satisfied with the letter and decided not to pursue the case further.

Drexel University, Fall 2004, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Purdue Exponent, Purdue University, reports, The Triangle