POMONA, Calif. Can something that’s free be stolen? Some 2,500 copies of the free Poly Post student newspaper were taken from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, distribution bins, and authorities are trying to determine if a crime was committed.
“The theory is that you can’t steal something that’s free,” said Sean Scully, the paper’s faculty adviser. “Nevertheless, we plan to pursue this with the campus police, the student elections commission and judicial affairs at the college.”
The purloined copies of the May 18 edition featured stories on the upcoming student government elections, which were held yesterday.
“A front page story about one of the candidates in the election probably caused it to be stolen,” editor in chief Luis Gomez said.
The newspapers, which staffers value at about 44 cents each, took hours of effort to produce and $580 worth of advertising was sold for the issue.
“The biggest hurdle always seems to be convincing the police that these acts are crimes,” said attorney Mike Hiestand of the Student Press Law Center, an organization that advises student journalists nationwide.
Hiestand said the group recommends “that papers put a disclaimer on the cover saying the first copy is free, but additional copies cost 50 cents.”