Four South Carolina residents were arrested this week for allegedly stealing coupons from their local newspaper and then selling them online! Two of the men were arrested at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal distribution facility on Sunday when they were caught walking into the building through the loading dock and simply taking the coupon inserts from the coupon room. The other two people charged were accused of selling the stolen coupons online. According to an article from CouponsinTheNews.com, they were charged with receiving stolen goods and accessory after the fact to a felony. One of the individuals arrested was a detention officer for the sheriff's department! It will be very interesting to see what happens in this case.
Stolen and fraudulent coupons cost manufacturers and retailers a good deal of money each year and honest couponers feel the effects. Have you ever bought the Sunday paper only to find out that the coupons inserts you expected were not in the paper? If the inserts were stolen at some point before you bought that paper, you are paying the price for someone else's crime. In the case of the South Carolina thefts, which had been going on for four months, there were probably many newspapers that did not have the coupon inserts they were supposed to include. As a couponer who has a weekly subscription to the Sunday paper, I would be very unhappy if the coupons were not in the paper because someone else was stealing them and then selling them online.
This type of theft is exactly why buying coupons from coupon clipping services have been frowned upon by the industry. Sites like Ebay have successfully worked with the Coupon Information Corporation to eliminate stolen and counterfeit coupons for sale. In the end, the safest way to make sure you are using coupons obtained legally is to buy the Sunday paper yourself.
What do you think? Should they all serve jail time, including those selling the stolen coupons?