back to article Men charged with theft of free newspapers

Two men have been charged with theft for allegedly helping themselves to bundles of free newspapers from London Bridge railway station. The two South London men are said to have pinched bundles of the London Evening Standard, a freesheet, edited by former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, that is handed out to …

  1. CraPo

    Why?

    A jape? Selling the paper for recycling?

    1. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      Re: Why?

      "A jape? Selling the paper for recycling?"

      The London Evening Standard is edited by Gideon Osborne, so obviously the only suitable use would be for wiping one's derrière.

      Presumably they've been charged with theft of public toilet paper...

      1. hi_robb

        Re: Why?

        I woudln't even wipe my arse with anything Gideon is related to.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      I'm guessing without any useful details in the article, they could easily have been homeless guys hunting for something to sleep on.

      Although not exactly an ideal mattress, cardboard and newspaper do make a workable insulating layer when sleeping on hard concrete surfaces.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely this could be argued away by a lawyer - AFAIK there is no asterisk next to the word 'free' on the paper which specifies "Maximum of 1 per customer" or anything like that.

    1. tony2heads

      1 per user

      Would it have been OK if they had taken the string from the bundles and tipped them into a wheelbarrow?

      I suspect that the real story was that they were trying to censor something in the paper.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: 1 per user

        I suspect that the real story was that they were trying to censor something in the paper.

        Since 'Jhon Mejia' is clearly a thinly-disguised alias, I too suspect political skulduggery from an opponent of the editor.

      2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: 1 per user

        I think I read, at the time that The Standard went "free", that news agents, shops etc were expected to pay 2p per copy. The rational was that when I entered the shop to collect my free paper I would sometimes buy a high margin Mars bar or similar.

        May be the accused were shop owners after free Trigonoceps lure?

        (No connection to Mars etc.)

      3. cortland

        Re: 1 per user

        Zigaackly!

    2. Stuart Castle

      I would have thought so. There is nothing on the paper, or on the stands, stating there is a limit on how many you can take.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This is England. We use common sense here. It would get really boring if all obvious things had to be written down. If all obvious things were written down, then it would be unreasonable to expect people to read the reams of crap, so we'd be to back to where we started in any case.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "It would get really boring if all obvious things had to be written down."

          OTOH it's useful to quote what you're replying to, especially with the way threading works in these parts.

        2. Chris 125

          "This is England. We use common sense here. It would get really boring if all obvious things had to be written down."

          I see your point, but you also can't prosecute for lack of common sense. If there is a maximum number of papers that can be taken then people need to be made aware - without this, the British should always result to tutting and shaking their heads rather than litigation.

          We also don't have a great deal of information. Did they steal hundreds of thousands of them first thing in the morning to stop people reading them, or did they pick up a couple of bundles late in the day when they were only going to get recycled anyway. I usually grab quite a few when I'm in the city because it makes quite a nice base layer for my rabbit's hutch. I mean I like the journalism.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            It is an evening paper. It gets delivered to the collection points at around 4pm or so. The Metro is the free morning paper.

        3. spacecadet66

          "It would get really boring if all obvious things had to be written down. If all obvious things were written down, then it would be unreasonable to expect people to read the reams of crap, so we'd be to back to where we started in any case."

          I think you just described the approach we take in the USA. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to scrolling through this terms-and-conditions document.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What matters is, would the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus have understood that the act was dishonest.

        5. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

          Many many years ago, not so long after returning from nine years spent living in the US, I was on a train listening to a fellow Briton regaling his mates with stories of his holidays in the US.

          And he mentioned those newspaper vending machines that were common all over the US in the 80s (and probably other times, but I don't recall looking for them on my subsequent trips over there(1)). The machine stands out in the street, and you put your coins in the slots on the front, and that unlocks the door, and you take out a newspaper and shut the door.

          This chappie, however, commented on the implied difference in American and British culture - his comment was that in Britain, such a machine would be emptied by the first or maybe second person to put coins in, whereas in the US, people dutifully took only the one copy they paid for, even in really dodgy areas.(2)

          (1) I first arrived in the US in 1981 on a ninety-day tourist visa. I stayed for nine years.

          (2) I'm not saying he was right about this, just that that's what he said. It made me sad, in a way, because it was closer to the truth than most of us would probably like to admit, and it's not a nice thing to have to admit about your own countrymen.

          1. cream wobbly

            Same but different

            1) So you were an illegal immigrant? Although the fact you're British (and with a name like Steve, probably white) means you were an "expat", which apparently makes you better than me, even though you broke the rules.

            2) I've seen a couple of those newspaper jobbies emptied in broad daylight on a busy stripmall, to be sold by the "gainfully unemployed" at intersections. I've seen the bolts sticking up from the concrete where they used to be the day before. UK and US criminals are cut from the same cloth.

            1. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: Same but different

              "and with a name like Steve, probably white"

              Don't count on it. It's also Dell for Sanjay, etc....

            2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

              Re: Same but different

              "So you were an illegal immigrant? Although the fact you're British (and with a name like Steve, probably white) means you were an "expat", which apparently makes you better than me, even though you broke the rules."

              Not at all. It got legally converted into something more lasting, eventually a green card (which isn't made of card, and is actually pink). But it sounds better to say I had a 90 day tourist visa and stayed for nine years.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Agreed.... a few months ago, I helped myself to a "couple" of these.. they made excellent packing material when I was moving!

        A/C to protect my own ass.

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          "A/C to protect my own ass."

          Were there photos of you and your donkey in the paper then?!

    3. viscount

      I think it depends on which point the paper was in its distribution. The fact that is handed out "free" eventually does not mean that the owner does not have rights to the stock in the vans, warehouses etc. It's a bit like if I decide to hand out free Snickers for a promotion that does not give you the right to make off with my whole stock from the warehouse.

      If on the other hand the papers were taken when they were just left out for people to pick up then it could be an interesting legal case.

    4. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Surely this could be argued away by a lawyer

      The lawyer could argue that by taking the papers they were clearing away a public nuisance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surely this could be argued away by a lawyer

        I agree. I used to read the Evening Standard, but after a few weeks of trying it I decided it wasn't worth the money. It's a seriously crap paper. As it's "free" and not worth the money even at that price point I'm valuing it as less than zero, so them taking bundles of papers is more like charity than theft.

  3. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    Eh?

    ...said to have pinched bundles of the London Evening Standard...

    I didn't realise that stupidity and bad taste were crimes. This is good news.

    For a start, Simon Cowell is going down for hard time...

    1. DailyLlama

      Re: Eh?

      You could arguably say that he's not stupid at all. He's the only real winner of his "talent" shows (although that answer won't get you any points in a pub quiz).

      Bad taste - guilty as hell though.

  4. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Seven years for "stealing" free newspaper(s)?

    I hope the jury laughs this one out of court.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Seven years is the maximum sentence awardable by a judge for theft. This particular offense is probably going to result in a small fine and an admonishment not to be seen in front of the courts again, if that.

      1. Slef

        Are they going to be sentenced North of the Border?

        Pedants unite

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "an admonishment not to be seen in front of the courts again"

        Preferably delivered to the prosecution.

    2. Velv Silver badge
      Headmaster

      There will be no jury, it will be dealt with by either a Judge or some Magistrates.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, it depends on how it's played.

        Anything five years or over has to have a jury.

        So if they go down the seven year route, there will be one.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Reading comprehension 101

        There will be no jury, it will be dealt with by either a Judge or some Magistrates.

        In the article:

        Larezserrano and Mejia are due to appear before Central London Magistrates’ Court this afternoon to answer the charges.

  5. Your alien overlord - fear me

    But they've deprived London commuters the free paper to put on the bottom of their bird cages.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Surely London commuters only read the Daily Mail or Express for their daily dose of "THOSE FUCKING IMMIGRANTS" or some crap?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Surely London commuters only read the Daily Mail or Express for their daily dose of "THOSE FUCKING IMMIGRANTS" or some crap?

        No, no, THAT is what is used to line bird cages and cat litter trays with. The Metro is used to fill bins. Each has their purpose.

        I must admit that this is a wholly new interpretation of the word "free" for me. As far as I can tell, their main crime is impatience - it would have ended up in the bin about 2 hours later anyway. Or would that have been stealing litter? Is that illegal too?

        I'm thoroughly confused here: when is free no longer free? More than 1? 10? A pack? Is it now illegal to take one for a colleague who doesn't have the patience to wait until I've paged through mine? Are cafes which take a few copies for clients now committing fine-worthy acts?

        Weird. It's clearly a Monday.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Or would that have been stealing litter? Is that illegal too?"

          In England a man was successfully prosecuted for a related offence. He would read his home snailmail on the way to work - and put any unwanted items in a litter bin en route. The local council tracked him down through the addressed items. Apparently it is not allowed to dispose of household waste in a public litter bin.

          A woman was recently given an on the spot fine of GBP80 for emptying the remains of her drink of coffee down a street drain - before putting the disposable cup in a litter bin. Her alleged offence was "polluting a water course".

          1. Chris 125

            "A woman was recently given an on the spot fine of GBP80 for emptying the remains of her drink of coffee down a street drain - before putting the disposable cup in a litter bin. Her alleged offence was "polluting a water course"

            Which although extreme, is a real thing. Surface water (drains and soakaways) and sewers are treated totally differently and the two should never mix (until raw sewage is pumped into the Thames, obvs, but disregard that for a moment).

            If it became common practice to do that you could indeed have a watercourse problem. Many drains feed directly into streams and rivers. Next thing you know, you've got unwanted pet tortoises smashed off their face on the remains of a thousand Frappuchinos

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "Which although extreme, is a real thing. Surface water (drains and soakaways) and sewers are treated totally differently and the two should never mix (until raw sewage is pumped into the Thames, obvs, but disregard that for a moment)."

              80 squids is a bit extreme, she should have just been told that it might be bad and dont do it again. Sounds like she was actually trying to be respectful. I've seen people throw lit cigarettes in bins even when there are those stub trays on top. Other people throw recyclable waste into the normal bins when there are clearly recycle bins right next to them, and vice versa. Even seen bins where people throw non-empty coffee cups straight into the bin and they leak, so wasps start hanging around. So these are the people who need a fine, not someone who was trying to do what they thought was the right thing.

              Maybe we need coffee tipping bins next to the other bins in the street? But then people would just use them for whatever like the existing bins. Looking at the way bins are used, people generally dont care as long as the rubbish is no longer their problem and they are the ones who need fines, so yeah 80 squid is a bit excessive.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge
                Windows

                Maybe we need coffee tipping bins next to the other bins in the street?

                And then some enterprising soul will collect the stuff, reheat it, slap a posh name[0] on it and sell it. Maybe even with a system of drains connecting the coffee tipping bins to a central collecting tank for immediate reuse.

                [0] merely meaning "street fluid" in some foreign language

                1. LesB

                  Re: Maybe we need coffee tipping bins next to the other bins in the street?

                  slap a posh name[0] on it and sell it.

                  Isn't that what Starbucks do already?

                2. Alumoi

                  Re: Maybe we need coffee tipping bins next to the other bins in the street?

                  And then some enterprising soul will collect the stuff, reheat it, slap a posh name[0] on it and sell it.

                  So you've tried Starbucks and MD?

                3. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: Maybe we need coffee tipping bins next to the other bins in the street?

                  [0] merely meaning "street fluid" in some foreign language

                  Or would that one be "Starbucks"?

                  (Yeah ok, guess that one try of their under-extracted stuff has left me a bit sour... ;) )

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Maybe we need coffee tipping bins next to the other bins in the street?

                Coffee tipping bin == urinal

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "If it became common practice to do that you could indeed have a watercourse problem."

              The Victorians found that the amount of horse traffic in cities was a major pollution problem. Nowadays one could ban horses from streets because they pollute the watercourses with the run-off. How much oil and rubber goes into the drains from motor vehicles?

              At least coffee is organic and presumably biodegradable.

              Given the number of rats in cities it would be interesting to calculate how much urine they generate in watercourses.

              1. Chris 125

                "Given the number of rats in cities it would be interesting to calculate how much urine they generate in watercourses."

                Typically, these prefer being in the sewer rather than groundwater drains, as there's more for them to dine on (congealed kebab shop grease etc). Hence their tiddle isn't really a problem.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  > Typically, these prefer being in the sewer rather than groundwater drains

                  Chris, you appear to be disturbingly well informed about sewer and drains. :-|

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Yeah.. Me too. I guess I should stop shitting in the street.

          2. shade82000

            "In England a man was successfully prosecuted for a related offence."

            WTF?

            "A woman was recently given an on the spot fine of GBP80 for emptying the remains of her drink of coffee down a street drain"

            WTF?

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            spot fine of GBP80 for emptying the remains of her drink of coffee down a street drain

            Was it Starbucks? If so, then the sentence was laughably light.

            I guess not. The word "coffee" was used, not "laughably-undinkable, burnt water masquerading as coffee".

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "polluting a water course"

            The story about the woman pouring coffee down the drain is rather distorted. She was ticketed for littering by council enforcement officers, who were overstepping their authority and are no doubt incentivised to issue as many tickets as possible. The ticket was (eventually) rescinded on appeal.

            Watercourse pollution offences are not dealt with by means of on-the-spot fines.

          5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "Apparently it is not allowed to dispose of household waste in a public litter bin."

            So why is it legal for marketroids to dispose of non-household waste in my letter box?

          6. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            In England a man was successfully prosecuted for a related offence. He would read his home snailmail on the way to work - and put any unwanted items in a litter bin en route. The local council tracked him down through the addressed items. Apparently it is not allowed to dispose of household waste in a public litter bin.

            A woman was recently given an on the spot fine of GBP80 for emptying the remains of her drink of coffee down a street drain - before putting the disposable cup in a litter bin. Her alleged offence was "polluting a water course".

            [[CITATION REQUIRED]]

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Chris, you're saying that all street drains never go into the sewage system? I knew some didn't, but I assumed the majority did.. Learn something new every day !

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Boffin

                Chris, you're saying that all street drains never go into the sewage system?

                Here in NZ most street drains go straight to the nearest stream. It's illegal to wash your car in your drive in many areas, because the chemicals in the washing and the stuff you wash off go into waterways (washing on your lawn is OK though). It's also illegal to have stormwater runoff pipes (eg from your roof guttering) going into sewers.

                The reasoning being basically that storm water should be fairly clean, and doesn't need any further processing. Sewer water however has to be treated, and it's an expensive process. You don't want any unnecessary water going into the system because every drop has to be paid for.

                Thanks to some weird and wonderful drain work on a friend's place before he got the property, we've been learning lots about what is and isn't legal with this stuff. Council looks for illegal connections by pumping smoke into the sewer system, and looking for what leaks above ground in the street. If all is connected properly the smoke won't be seen, but an illegal tap (or broken pipe) will let the smoke out.

                1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Here in NZ most street drains go straight to the nearest stream. It's illegal to wash your car in your drive in many areas, because the chemicals in the washing and the stuff you wash off go into waterways (washing on your lawn is OK though). It's also illegal to have stormwater runoff pipes (eg from your roof guttering) going into sewers.

                  Funnily enough, my main knowledge on the subject was from a New Zealand(*) fly-on-the-wall programme, where they followed environment agency staff. They called in on one company which was washing equipment outside their property, and the drain outlet was straight onto a beach just down the road.

                  It makes sense to have this sort of setup - I just assumed that as in most of the UK, there is no handy river or stream nearby, the sewage system was used... Thinking about it further, though, it would probably smell a bit!

                  (*) I *think* it was NZ, but it could have been AU.. Sorry!

          7. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Her alleged offence was "polluting a water course".

            BP or Starbucks sludge coffee?

            Either case I be seeking far more than a mere fine. That sort of pollution needs making an example out of!

            (Assuming a normal roadside drain, she should point out that the person who gave her the ticket was likely driving a car, which deposits tyre rubber and other solid waste materials on the road, which when it rains get washed into the gutter, thus they're also pollution said watercourse)

        2. tedleaf

          Yes,it's a crime to remove stuff back out of public rubbish/litter bins,once you place something in one it becomes the property of the local authority or their contractor,its the same law as covers the removal of things from skips,even if you have "permissions" of the original owner,it's theft,you need to get consent from both the old owner and the owner of the skip,I had it all explained to me by a police solicitor when I was a regular skip diver,you removing an item permanently from someone else,who may have an income source for that item.

          It even means you cannot remove even a bucket of soil from a skip full,even if the whole lot is going to landfill..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > Yes,it's a crime to remove stuff back out of public rubbish/litter bins,once you place something in one it becomes the property of the local authority or their contractor

            Nice theory from that solicitor, but last I checked it was me paying the rubbish company for the service. Nowhere in the contract does it say that they get to keep what they take.

      2. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Surely London commuters only read the Daily Mail or Express for their daily dose of "THOSE FUCKING IMMIGRANTS" or some crap?

        You don't know much about London, I assume.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          He said commuters, not residents :P

  6. 0laf Silver badge

    Eek

    Have been guilty of this when I'm doing painting in the house. Grab a handful of metros, property papers etc.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Eek

      You're going down you slag!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eek

        Learn to speak properly. Everyone knows it's "you're going daahrn you slaaaaaaag!"

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Eek

          Learn to speak properly. Everyone knows it's "you're going daahrn you slaaaaaaag!"

          I say! You must be from the wilder parts of London old chap! We don't have language like that round here[1] you know! One must have standards..

          [1] NNW London. Where I was dragged up. With a Middlesex postcode..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eek

      Have been guilty of this when I'm doing painting in the house. Grab a handful of metros, property papers etc.

      It may be worth finding a different source for your DIY advice.

      In general, painting is done with brushes and rollers - much easier to get a good result.

      :)

  7. Redstone

    Nothing is 'free'

    whatever their motivation, by taking the whole stack, the thieves have stolen circulation from the paper: eyeballs on the paper is what attracts the advertising revenue that pays to keep the publication going.

    No circulation means no income which leads to lost jobs. So not a 'victimless' crime if it were allowed to continue.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Nothing is 'free'

      Probably a cunning plan by the editor to boost circulation by having large amounts taken from various stations.

      1. Fihart

        Re: Nothing is 'free'

        "Probably a cunning plan by the editor to boost circulation by having large amounts taken from various stations."

        Shrewd comment. When working in ad agency with a client who was a magazine publisher I brought a meeting to a standstill by suggesting that instead of running an ad campaign to boost circulation we simply spent the money buying copies of the magazine and dumping them. Wasn't too surprised to some years later see a skip/dumpster near a publishing house full of current copies of a consumer mag.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "buying copies of the magazine and dumping them"

          I guess this is akin to fraud, advertiser in the magazine won't be happy if they knew their ads were only seen by rats in the bins...

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: "buying copies of the magazine and dumping them"

            I guess this is akin to fraud, advertiser in the magazine won't be happy if they knew their ads were only seen by rats in the bins...

            That's not a very nice way to talk about all those rail commuters!

        2. PhilipN Silver badge

          Re: Nothing is 'free'

          That's the music business. Countless examples but one worth mentioning is how Brian Epstein made sure his new charges named the Beatles sold minimum 10,000 singles of their first release.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nothing is 'free'

          Nothing new except for the dumping.....I remember someone telling me that his boss had formed a company in the seventies which bought copies from the distributor of a publication that his then employer produced. Then this new company distributed them for free to hairdressers and barbers near the offices of those companies who were advertising that month. Boosted circulation numbers and the visibility of the mag apparently

    2. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Nothing is 'free'

      eyeballs on the paper is what attracts the advertising revenue that pays to keep the publication going

      And is that a good thing, for a rag "edited" by a failed politician with no relevant journalistic expertise, and written by a skeleton staff doing desk journalism? Note also that it is majority owned by a dubious Russian oligarch, with a 25% shareholding by the owners of the Daily Mail.

      I might add that in terms of second order crimes that you're alluding to, how about aiding and abetting littering? The free rags cost huge amounts to clear up from abandoned papers on the underground, trains, buses, and even off the street. When the Evening Standard pays for the costs of collecting and recycling its ordure then they may have a case for complaining about people "stealing" its papers.

      And a final observation, good to see that the Met (apparently) have got sufficient manpower to investigate this and take it to charge. If there's a complaint to them they are required to investigate and that's fair enough, but they've obviously got time on their hands if they have chosen to charge people over this trivia. I would have thought there's a lot more pressing concerns that they should spend their time on.

    3. aenikata

      Re: Nothing is 'free'

      You could say there's a victim, the problem is defining it as a crime. Not all actions with undesirable effects are (or should be) crimes. If you declare something free and present it for people to help themselves, then I see little scope for declaring a crime if someone takes more than one, unless you have specifically indicated a '1 per person' limit. The real winners here, as always, are the lawyers arguing each side of the case.

    4. peter 45

      Re: Nothing is 'free'

      Yep.

      'Free' is not the same as 'worthless' or 'without value'. Just how many commentators on here don't realise this is outstanding.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing is 'free'

        Just how many commentators on here don't realise this is outstanding.

        You must be new here. Not being sensible is part of the fun!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Nothing is 'free'

        "'Free' is not the same as 'worthless' or 'without value'. Just how many commentators on here don't realise this is outstanding."

        I think you're missing a couple of points here. One is that commentards are free to apply their own evaluations of the said rag and do find it to be worthless other than as a raw material. The other is that if the papers are offered to be taken away free of payment without clearly displayed T&Cs than it becomes difficult to characterise taking away large numbers as theft.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Nothing is 'free'

      "No circulation means no income which leads to lost jobs. So not a 'victimless' crime if it were allowed to continue."

      I think you just made the use of ad-blockers a criminal offence!

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Possible reasons

    1. They're agents of the Maybot wanting to cover up leaked info about a 0-day in her kernel

    2. They're typical Sarf Londoners, i.e. live in sub-standard housing and want them to insulate their flats before winter comes

    3. They're actually homeless and want the bundles to construct a sort of paper igloo to live in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Possible reasons

      2. They're typical Sarf Londoners, i.e. live in sub-standard housing and want them to insulate their flats before winter comes

      Well, it's no more flammable than the cladding used on their flats..

      1. Frederic Bloggs

        Re: Possible reasons

        You're partly right, in fact if you simply make your hovel out of the complete newspapers (i.e not separating them into sheets and scrumpling them up) it is actually considerably more fireproof than that polyethylene cladding. With the bonus of not having much in the way of cyanide fumes to breath in as you emerge out of the smouldering pile.

        1. Chris 125

          Re: Possible reasons

          Agreed. Fastest way to put out my open fire is to lob a whole Evening Standard on, rookie error. Needs careful scrunching first.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Possible reasons

            "Agreed. Fastest way to put out my open fire is to lob a whole Evening Standard on, rookie error. Needs careful scrunching first."

            What about if I used aluminium oxide paste as a bonding agent to hold the papers together?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Possible reasons

              What about if I used aluminium oxide paste as a bonding agent to hold the papers together?

              It would stick to the wall before catching fire..

            2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Possible reasons

              What about if I used aluminium oxide paste as a bonding agent to hold the papers together?

              It would be significantly more flameproof. You were probably thinking of iron oxide and aluminium powder, which are the ingredients of thermite. Bonus points for knowing that aluminium is highly flammable if you can get it hot enough to melt the oxide layer, which is another reason a sandwich of polyethylene between sheets of aluminium is really not fire proof.

    2. spacecadet66

      Re: Possible reasons

      As to point #3, people sleeping rough know that a couple of scrunched-up newspapers down the shirt and trousers are surprisingly good insulation on a cold night.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A public service

    Removing gutter trash

  10. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Coat

    Stealing free newspapers?

    Standards have really fallen these days...

    ... off the back of a lorry.

  11. Alan Sharkey

    Why is this in El Reg? Seems a bit pointless. I assume there is no other tech news to report.

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      I knew you'd come to read this because of its definitely-tech-related headline so I wrote it as a personal gift to annoy and irritate you today.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Now *that* has made my Monday, hahaha :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Of course if you'd really wanted to annoy and irritate him you'd have put in something other than the 'Bootnotes' section?

      3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        so I wrote it as a personal gift

        So long as I don't get the police knocking on my door saying it is not really a gift and I'm being charged with theft.

  12. Mr Dogshit

    All they have to do

    is say they only borrowed the "newspapers" and intended to bring them back.

    The definition of theft is to permanently deprive someone of their property.

    Mr Justice Dogshit

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: All they have to do

      This is all about quantifying.

      I can just imagine the Defence solicitor standing up and ask "is it ok for me to take this one free paper?"

      The next question will be ""is it ok for me to take two free papers?"

      The next question will be ""is it ok for me to take three free papers?"

      "How about four free papers?"

      etc.

      At what point do you draw the line, and why there, at that particular point? Oh I can imagine a good defence lawyer in his element, particularly if he/she has an audience (aka jury).

      If they "borrowed" them, the converse questions are "how long is it acceptable to borrow them for?"

      "One minute?"

      "Two minutes?"

      etc.

      and "at what point can I remove all copies from view without problem?" My local Waitrose has a big pile of Friday Standards by the door on Saturday morning.

      Those that live in London will probably be aware that The Standard is not produced once, and that's it, it is rolled out often as at least two different editions with different headlines as news gets updated. So the "Final" is not always the final version, there's often a "Final Extra". Depending on who you are you could argue that bulk removing old copies was a good thing (if you're a commuter looking for the latest).

  13. Test Man

    It never ceases to amaze me how sad people can get, I mean taking bundles of a FREE newspaper? Why?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      It never ceases to amaze me how sad people can get, I mean taking bundles of a FREE newspaper? Why?

      Because they get money when taken in bulk to commercial paper recycling centres..

  14. Dieter Haussmann

    they probably wanted it to line their faeces laden nest.

  15. Peter27x

    The paper isn't really free, it's paid for by the advertising companies. The assumption is that every paper handed out will be read by at least one person, and thus the fee set for the advertising space.

    If those bundles of papers are now not going to be each read by at least one person, there is a lost to the companies advertising.

    Of course I'm not going to lose much sleep over that, but still would be a monetary value.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If we absolutely HAVE to talk sensible about it for a moment (wrong place IMHO, but I'll go along with it for a moment) I would observe that this event would probably better have been dealt with with a warning unless it was frequently occurring (which we don't know).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The assumption is that every paper handed out will be read by at least one person, and thus the fee set for the advertising space."

      As news has a limited life then presumably the newspapers are withdrawn after a few days? Newsagents used to return unsold newspapers - presumably for a refund. Do advertisers also get a rebate for unsold copies - if not then are the newspaper owners taking money under false pretenses?

    3. TheVogon Silver badge

      It's advertised as free at the point of consumption. I think they might have trouble getting a theft charge to stick...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "It's advertised as free at the point of consumption."

        Unless it's printed on rice paper consuming it seems a bad idea.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "The paper isn't really free, it's paid for by the advertising companies. The assumption is that every paper handed out will be read by at least one person, and thus the fee set for the advertising space."

      True. But the public (including the accused*) aren't party to the agreements so why should they be bound by them?

      *Unless they're running the sort of circulation-boosting scam mentioned elsewhere.

  16. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Sounds familiar!

    I was once bounced from a pub\bar for taking a "FREE" poster of the band that was playing at the establishment. That was many moons ago, I seem to remember the bouncer being a mite shorter than me and having the little man syndrome...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is England. We use common sense here.

    "Theft by taking", will be the charge.

    Hardly common sense.

    Instead, it gets taken to a recycling centre, who will then either smash it up, shred it, or SELL it to you, so you can use it and throw it away again.

    As for the rag in question, it is not even fit to wipe my arse on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is England. We use common sense here.

      "Theft by taking", will be the charge.

      How else can you commit theft?

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: This is England. We use common sense here.

        "How else can you commit theft?" By copying a song/tune, leaving the original intact.

        1. qwertyuiop

          Re: This is England. We use common sense here.

          You can commit "theft by finding":

          Theft by finding occurs when someone who chances upon an object which seems abandoned and takes possession of the object but fails to take steps to establish whether the object is abandoned and not merely lost or unattended. - Wikipedia

          For example, if you take something from a skip (dumpster for our American cousins) because you think it's worth having then technically you can be charged with theft by finding - even though the original owner clearly no longer wants it. You're supposed to ask the owner's permission before you take it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is England. We use common sense here.

            You can commit "theft by finding":

            "Theft by finding occurs when someone who chances upon an object which seems abandoned and takes possession of the object but fails to take steps to establish whether the object is abandoned and not merely lost or unattended. - Wikipedia"

            OK, but simply finding it isn't an offence. You have to take it as well :-)

        2. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: This is England. We use common sense here.

          "By copying a song/tune, leaving the original intact."

          NO. That's copyright infringement, which is not theft under law or otherwise. Common misconception though thanks to recording / movie industry propaganda.

          Here, let me help you understand the difference:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFNKw2nYG9A

    2. tedleaf

      Re: This is England. We use common sense here.

      Theft by finding..

  18. Mark 78

    Sounds like a prank news story

    Something doesn't seem right with this story. Are we sure it is genuine? I can only find one other place that has run it (a US website), the names don't seem genuine, and it has general feel of a spoof story trying to see who will run it.

    Although I'm prepared to be proved wrong, as I usually am whenever I think that the world can't really be that stupid.

  19. Tronald Dump

    Not free to take, en masse

    Given away, shirley

  20. mark l 2 Silver badge

    How is prosecuting this a useful use of our criminal justice system. Which bozo at the CPS told the police to go ahead and charge? Unless they were well know to the police before but alway got off for lack of evidence and this time they were caught red handed. But as others have pointed out, if they are taking something that is given away free, have they broken the law by taking them all?

  21. PabloGuero

    They stole from the advertisers

    My feeling is that these two men stole from the advertisers who paid money for their message to reach an audience. Compensate the advertisers and be done with it.

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. grumpyoldeyore
    Joke

    Verification

    Usually I would read about these cases in the "Courts" section of the London Evening Standard, but today I can't find a copy anywhere.....

  24. Richard 12 Silver badge

    My wild guess is they were distributors

    If they were being paid to distribute them and decided to dump them in the recycling instead, that's fairly clearly theft.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My wild guess is they were distributors

      Can't see how that would be theft. Pretty sure it would be breach of contract and a civil matter.

  25. Anguilla

    HK$10 South China Morning Post for free for many years!

    Many years ago, I found that I was receiving an apparently "free" copy of the local "South China Morning Post".

    I lapped it up, reading it before the usually one day late "The Register" arrived in my e'mail box.

    Then I got qualms that, one day, I'd be lumbered with a massive newspaper bill.

    The SCMP has gone from what I now reckon was a paltry HK$1 in the late '70s, to its grossly inflated HK$10 nowadays..... But I digress.....

    I finally tackled the newspaper delivery office who also delivered SWMBO's "Ming Pao" Chinese squiggle-talk newspaper at the same time - and they calmed my fears by saying that my "free" SCMP was one of many freely handed out to bloat the SCMP's "Circulation figures".

    How they also justified the free handing out the weekend edition of the "Financial Times" - I didn't bother to try to find out !!

    Having spent ~20 years owning an up-market flat, I'm rather loath to sell up & move elsewhere, I'm afraid that the "free" SCMP will never re-appear!

  26. tedleaf

    There is also the charge of "theft by finding" a woman was recently charged with that when she found a ten pound note,because she just stuck it in her purse without making any effort to report it or find the owner.

    What used to happen was you took to a police station,if nobody claimed it in 6 weeks,you could apply for it to be given to you,but police corruption stopped most folk from doing so and now most police stations will not handle even valuable items,like a purse with bank cards and obvious id,the police now expect you to return it,me I walk in to cop shop,drop items on counter and leg it quickly,otherwise you are there answering questions for hours and then get accused of theft !!

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