Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Stolen newspapers challenge distribution newsagents

Mark Fletcher
March 19th, 2014 · 6 Comments

Every newsagent who owns or has owned a newspaper distribution business has experienced the theft of home delivered newspapers. I experienced it years ago before I sold my delivery run. In one instance a resident at a church run retirement village was regularly stealing the paper delivered to a fellow resident.

I know of people who have been caught who say it’s a victimless crime. It’s not, of course. The newsagent carries a considerable cost – replacing stolen product, making good the situation and often soaking abuse from the customer.

I’m opening the topic here for discussion following recent comments on another threat.  Over to you…


Category: Ethics · newspaper home delivery

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Mar 19, 2014 at 6:40 AM

    If the theft is constant we wrap a newspaper with vegemite spread all through it and a note saying that the next time it is stolen it will be something much worse than vegemite (ie dog poo). We then deliver a newspaper to the customer who is privvy to our message so they do not open the soiled paper! We also “top” the extra paper delivered as we should not bear the cost of replacement.


  • 2 David // Mar 19, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    On a slightly different tangent.

    Are Newsagents aware that when you report stolen or short supply Fairfax products of any nature to Fairfax that when they replace them they in fact later charged to you again.

    You need to go to Home Page on Fairfax Link and place a “Claim” against what was replaced otherwise you will in fact be charged twice for the reported stolen goods.


  • 3 Peter // Mar 19, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    I had a sub agent I lowered the boom on for Non Payment of Account. The first day without papers I lost about 15 deliveries in their immediate vicinity. A trip over their and a general discussion about thievery without pointing the bone but telling theme next the Police would be involved stopped this happening again. They then closed shop shortly there after. However I did all monies owing to me about 6 months latter.


  • 4 Peter Wilkie // Mar 19, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    In my experience, most thieving occurs when the customer’s property has an inherent weakness like an open driveway with passing foot traffic or a shared drive in flats etc. It also often comes down to the diligence of the deliverer.

    If ‘papers are regularly not thrown well into the property, the local tea leaf will be aware of this, and you may find ‘papers go missing regularly, but from different addresses in the area.

    Reminding deliverers that their job entails SECURELY delivering the product may help, the best ones rarely have any stolen. For some customers in problem locations, you need to go that extra yard at delivery time to save the senior staff having to fix the issue later. Asking the customer to nominate a more secure delivery point (over a side fence, under the car etc) can help. Deliverers who feel “ownership” in their runs will strive to beat the thieves.
    Years ago, we had a Saturday Age being stolen from a customer in a block of secure flats in inner Melbourne. We wracked our brains to find a solution, eventually being granted access to the building so we could deliver the ‘papers right to the customer’s doorstep. (It was worth it, we had maybe 50% of the flats as customers) Still the bloody thing got stolen.

    Eventually, we were given a tip off and waited one morning after delivery. Our customer was say, flat 3. Out of flat 4 comes the boyfriend who only stayed over on Friday night, wanders over & picks up the ‘paper (both volumes) and toddles out.

    When confronted he laughed and said, words to the effect of “It’s 70 cents worth of newspaper, what’s anyone going to do about it?” When he had it explained to him that this was about the serial theft of ‘papers over many weeks, the costs involved in replacement, and the nervousness of many of the elderly residents in the block that there was a thief in their midst, he wasn’t quite so blase about it.

    PS. – For a “poison” ‘paper, liberally soak in fish oil, then add plenty of talcum powder in the middle. Roll by hand. The fish oil scented talc will penetrate deeply into clothes for an all day lasting effect.

    All the best.


  • 5 Dave // Mar 19, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    We deliver over 15,000 papers a week. A typical week will see us redelivering 10-12 papers across the week due to misses. That’s a 99.92% accurate delivery rate. Many of the misses turn out to be found on the customers property. Every driver sees a name & shame miss report in the message book every day. It works well because they pay each other out over it. This bit of peer group pressure has got more to do with keeping accuracy up than spending time or worrying about catching pilferers and phantoms.


  • 6 Jenny // Mar 19, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    We don’t lose many papers to theft but when we have a problem it often goes on for a while which us frustrating for all involved.
    We have had two instances of dogs taking newspapers, caught in the act but try telling the dog it’s wrong.

    Had one old lady having paper stolen so we drove in to driveway to throw onto her verandah but then neighbour complained that she was a shift worker on anti depressants and our car in the neighbours drive was disturbing her.

    Some missing papers are found under cars, up trees (not the best throw) and sometimes they are smack in the middle of the lawn but ‘oh I couldn’t see the paper when I looked out the window’!

    It’s not the little bit of money lost that bothers myself or my staff, it’s the disturbance to your business, the phone call from the customer, the call to the driver, the redelivery if customer very elderly, just a very disruptive start that this gives to our day.


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