More than 50 machines have been stolen in recent months.
By JOHN GOODWIN
and IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS
YOUNGSTOWN -- A reward is being offered as part of an investigation into the theft of dozens of newspaper vending machines during the last few months.
The Vindicator is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief. Company officials say more than 50 Vindicator boxes have been stolen.
Allan Bowlby, Vindicator circulation director, said the company has notified authorities and will press charges against those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.
He said the thefts are detrimental to the income of many people in the area.
"We have many independent contractors that make their living off of the sales in these newspaper vending machines. These thefts not only hurt our business, but the businesses of these independents," he said.
Earl Porter Jr., Mahoning Valley News general manager, said about 50 vending machines the agency handles have been stolen from various locations his company services during the last three months.
Some recovered: Six of those machines were recovered Thursday, but other machines were reported stolen or damaged the same day.
Mahoning Valley News is responsible for stocking boxes and distributing newspapers from Youngstown, Cleveland and other locations to grocery and convenient stores in Mahoning County.
The machines, which are worth about $500 each, are usually destroyed when the thief rips open the aluminum casing to remove the change.
Once the thief takes the change, the destroyed machines are typically dumped in an empty field. Each machine weighs about 70 pounds.
"It's really been a nightmare for everyone involved," Porter said. "We don't need these kinds of headaches."
Several police departments are investigating the thefts, which have occurred in Youngstown, Boardman, Poland, Austintown, and Canfield.
Boardman Lt. Jack Nichols said township authorities think they have a suspect.
Porter noted that the profits from the machines are divided between his company and the newspapers. Each newspaper owns their own machines, he said.
Anyone who witnesses a theft of one of the boxes is asked to call the Vindicator and the local police department.