Monday, August 25, 2008

Petty Complaints About Petty Theft

I think we need a new category of crime. There’s grand larceny. Cars, banks, taxes. There’s petty larceny. Wallets, phones, a lipstick from Macy’s. Then there’s a whole other category of thief: the guy who swipes my morning paper.

What should that even be called? Nitpick larceny? Micro-larceny, sort of a sticky-fingered counterpoint to microfinance? Or just, dorky, lame and pathetic? Why does anyone bother to steal something so cheap? The Washington Post costs less per day than one of those Sally Struthers kids. And I bet those Struthers kids don’t come with two crosswords and a Sudoku, and their commercials aren’t half as hearwarmingly schmaltzy as the Metro Section’s Page 3.

Newspaper theft has become part of my morning routine. If I open my door, and there’s nothing there, Something Important Has Happened. Obama has a running mate, rivers are flowing backwards, or the Nationals finally won a game. All I know is that an empty doorway is a sign of Armageddon.

So I’ve been thinking about solutions. I suppose I could get up early, and retrieve my paper before the Artful Dodger of Newsprint has done his dirty work. (Yeah, right.) Or I could leave a passive aggressive note on my door.

Or, perhaps, I could set up an elaborate trap. The moment my Sunday paper is shaken loose from its moorings, a complex systems of levers, pulleys, hamsters and spikes will scoop up the thief, and suspend him from the ceiling in a web of ropes.

All I need is an engineering degree, a few friends, and some rope. Who’s in?
PS - It's Monday. Blech. Bah. Bleah. Were you expecting something profound?

28 comments:

FoggyDew said...

Last year, while I was still a subscriber to the WaPo, I lost at least one paper in eight. I think someone in my building had a schedule and just stole a different person's every day. I got so annoyed I finally gave up, wrote the Post a nasty little email and cancelled my subscription.

My other big gripe was the carrier dropping the paper well outside the "door-cracked-just-enough-to-reach-the-paper-without-having-to-go-out-in-my-boxers" zone. Really, how hard is it to put the paper right at the point where the door opens?

Shannon said...

Foggy - My delivery guy tucks the paper between the doorknob and the doorframe. When I open the door in the morning, there's a satisfying THUD as my paper hits the floor. Or, rather, there's a THUD...or just some unsatisfying empty air.

[F]oxymoron said...

Stealing the morning paper is the gateway crime… first the paper, then the wife, and the next thing you know, boom, the presidency. I say douse the paper in CSI-esque chemical powders, follow the perpetrator’s trail, and then leave a nice stinking gift. Justice served.

Lemmonex said...

Hidden camera is the only option, I think. I bet there are hours of endless entertainment to be had in the hallway that you could catch. I am always catching drunk people making out in my hallway.

Shannon said...

Foxy - Ooh, a trail of toxic breadcrumbs!

Lemmonex - Yeah, my hallway is one of the world's most amusing places. I especially like the stoner married couple who dance their way to the elevators.

Ibid said...

He tucks the paper between the knob and the door frame. I haven't received the dead tree version of the paper since I moved here. I'm still used to them just chucking the paper in the general direction of the house. I had this image of a network of electronic eye beams that would trigger a droid that collected the paper for you.

Now I have the exact opposite problem that you have. I come out and find a newspaper or phone book on the front step. I chuck it at the neighbors.

You could install a doggie door so the paper could be pushed through that. Or some chute similar to a sidewalk mailbox.

A very low voltage circuit could be applied to the doorknob so that when the paperboy (or girl) touches the knob it grounds through him and it activates a light or bell so you know the paper is there and can pick it up.
Or, better yet, it trips a camera so you can get a picture of the thief.

They have motion activated digital cameras for taking pictures of wildlife. I think you need one out front.

Something along the lines of this.
http://www.wingscapes.com/productdetail.aspx?id=WSCA01

Ibid said...

You could also swap off that day's paper with an older one so the one they steal is out of date.

Shannon said...

Ibid - I live in a rental high-rise, so installing a doggie door or mailbox probably won't work. So maybe I should swap out my paper for somethign awful, like the Washington Times. All the news, but with extra Moonie flavor!

lacochran said...

You're sure it's being delivered, then? We call if we don't see our paper and they trot out another one.

Ibid said...

Any security cameras that you can get the footage from?

Ibid said...

Could you attach a tube to the front door that the paper could go in?

My friends are suggesting that you have a concrete newspaper made and leave that out front so they'll try to steal that. When they yank their arm out of place and try to sue you've got them.

Ibid said...

... or just secure the tube to the doorknob.

Shannon said...

Lacochran - I usually just wind up with a refund, when really, I WANT MY PAPER.

Ibid - Security cameras? I'd be surprised if we had any. But I do like the idea of making a newspaper out of concrete.

Anonymous said...

Get up REAL early one morning (I know, I know), grab your paper. Open it. Pour 2-3 ounces of cayenne pepper in between the first page and second second. Refold the paper and return it to the door way.

Shannon said...

Anonymous, that might ALMOST be worth getting up early.

Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina said...

Following the spirit of Anan's suggestion. Rig the paper with one of those obnosious panic buttons so the whole floor hears the shreiking noise and comes out to see the goober that's been stealing your paper.

Also to avoid having to get up early for these may I suggest staying up late and rigging these with an old paper?

Also - I suggest you at least consider - could this theft be a passive aggressive way of annoying you because you have annoyed one of your neighbors. I'm sure not, you ar4e always delightful, but well, its been known to happen to other less delightful people before.

Michael said...

It sounds like theft in the second degree, which is the felonious taking of property worth less than $250 under D.C. law. The maximum penalties are 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. I wonder if the sudoku is worth all that, but obtaining a successful prosecution (even if you find the guy) from the overburdened D.C. judicial system will be a neat trick.

Cancel the subscription and buy it at CVS. Costs more, annoys less.

Shannon said...

Tina, truth be told, I'm the neighbor from hell. I'm not quite as bad as the woman who blasts Persian pop music and has sex exactly three times a week (always at 11:00!). But I'm still no picnic.

Michael - But I hate CVS! I like getting home delivery so I can read the paper instead of getting ready for work.

Michael said...

Washington Post online via BlackBerry! (I have to think of everything!) :)

Shannon said...

Online? On a BlackBerry? Blasphemy. And not bloody likely...I hate technology. I don't own a digital camera or an iPod. I'd churn my own butter if I could.

Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ibid said...

Shannon, I do both. I've got a slick digital clock that has multiple alarms, projects on the ceiling, docks with my iPod, etc. etc. but I've also got a fully mechanical clock so after the revolution when the electricity is all gone I still know when my shows are on.
I also keep oil lamps handy. I may need them as a backlight for my monitor after the revolution.

We also keep the mechanical corn sheller and seed threshers running on the farm, just in case. What? Gas is getting expensive.

FoggyDew said...

Oh, how's about this: Ask your carrier to wrap your WaPo in 1A of the Times. That may stop them cold in their track.

Shannon said...

Ibid, I'm also busy planning for the revolution. I think it'll be zombies. Or maybe hippies. Like, those "Quit Bitching, Stop a Revolution" t-shirt people will finally start their revolution.

Foggy - but if I touch the Times, I might burst into flame!

HP said...

Situations like this are why passive aggressive notes were invented in the first place. I'm normally not a fan, but in this case I must insist upon it.

Zipcode said...

Its a misdeameanor in the district lol shall I get you the exact DC code and you can post it on your door for your thief.

My neighbor was stealing my Potomac/Manassas Journal and I busted her - she thought she was getting it for free for herself - yeah right.

Ibid said...

Shannon, you need to read "World War Z". It's different people telling their own stories of the zombie war. It's awesome.