Extreme couponing leads to thefts in Shawnee, weekly newspaper reports 1,000 papers taken in hours

SHAWNEE, Kan. - Extreme couponers are shaking their heads at the latest newspaper theft in Shawnee. One-thousand copies of the 'Shawnee Dispatch' were taken from two grocery stores in a matter of hours.

Now, the Shawnee Dispatch is having to limit customers to one free copy. The content of the front page isn't what makes the publication such a hot commodity. Instead, it's whats inside.

Shawnee Dispatch Circulation Director Chris Bell explained, "We had 1,500 papers stolen from most of our dealers and racks on September 28 and had 1,000 papers stolen from Hy-Vee and Price Chopper on December 28. The common denominator with both thefts is that P&G had great coupons in both editions."

Couponer and owner of pennypinchinmom.com, Tracie Fobes, wasn't surprised to hear the news. She said, "If somebody is stealing 800-1000 copies of a newspaper, they might be keeping a few inserts but more than likely, they're turning around and selling them on E-Bay

We checked, and it's true. There are hundreds of Procter and Gamble inserts for sale online for 99 cents a piece. Some ads were even listed in Kansas. NBC Action News was unable to confirm if any of the ads on E-Bay were taken from either one of the two grocery stores.

Kelly Snyder chimed in, "It's just really unfortunate that you get a couple bad apples to spoil the whole." She runs the Kansascitymamas.com blog.

Snyder was disappointed to hear that someone had taken advantage of the Shawnee Dispatch. However, she said, the trend of ‘saving' has made coupons a commodity.

She explained, "I bought an extra paper this weekend and had to look through at least three different papers before I could make sure it had all the inserts because the two beforehand didn't."

According to the two Kansas City-area women, The TLC show "Extreme Couponers" has had an adverse affect on people's couponing habits. Viewers believe they can score as good of deals as the person on the show.

Snyder said, "Most of the time you're looking at 30-40% on a regular basis."

Saving upwards of 90% at the grocery store is an unreasonable goal, she explained.

Neither Fobes nor Snyder advise coupon clippers to be smart and legal.

They suggest buying extra newspapers for the ads inside, asking a family member or friend for their ads or looking through a local recycling center for ads left behind.

Snyder said some of her readers have even had coupon inserts taken from the newspapers lying in their driveways. What the culprit doesn't understand, she said, is each deal has a limit. She continued, "If they go to Target and try to buy eight Tides, and use eight ‘$1 off' Tide coupons, Target is going to tell them no."

For those reasons, Snyder and Fobes believe the stolen papers were used to make money instead of the intended purpose of saving it.

Bell added, "The Shawnee Dispatch, a weekly newspaper, is published Wednesdays by The World Company. Copies are home-delivered in Shawnee, courtesy of the paper's advertisers. Additional copies are made available at public locations throughout Shawnee, also courtesy of advertisers. From those, one paper per person is complimentary. Extra copies must be obtained at The Dispatch office, 6301 Pflumm Road, Suite 102. A charge of 75 cents per copy may apply. Single copy price is 75 cents. By mail, subscriptions are $120 a year (plus tax)."

Log onto the Coupon Information Center to learn more about ethical and legal coupon use.

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