Newspaper vending machines are painfully easy to rip off. I believe that this is due to the fact that it is simply not cost-effective to invest in new security measures for a box that has maybe 50 cents worth of paper in it. Please note that it is even less cost effective to go to jail for stealing a newspaper.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there are several ways you could go about getting a newspaper out of a vending machine.

The idea that occurs first to most people is to simply pay for one paper, then take more than one. The problem with this, though, is that you still have to pay for one, and there's not a lot of use for multiple copies of the same newspaper. If you sell one, you can recoup your initial investment, but is it really worth all the trouble?

If salesmanship is not your forté, perhaps brute force is. A hammer and a pointy thing will make short (if violent) work of the plexiglas window on the front of the machine. Either that or you could apply a hacksaw to the latch. This method is even more trouble than the previous one, and it does not come recommended.

Let's suppose you don't have any money, and you left your toolbox at home, but you really want that paper. There's still hope for you. Press the coin return button on the machine. While holding this button, yank the handle firmly. The door should open. Now, don't touch any of the papers inside, and close the door. Gain satisfaction from the knowledge that you've rooted this box.

You may think that it's OK to yank a free paper from a vending box (see the opening line of vectormane's writeup if you're unsure). After all, those bastards who print the Wall Street Journal or USA Today are raking in major bucks. They sell bazillions of papers, so what do they care if you walk off with a dollars worth of newsprint?

For starters, you normally are not ripping off "the man". You're stealing from some poor gent or lady who paid for the papers at a discount, then drove around all night stocking the boxes. The markup is minimal, and they hope that volume will make up for the small markup. If a paper does not sell, they collect it and return it for a credit. If you stole it, they're out about seven paper's worth of profit. In other words, to make up for the one you stole, they have to sell seven just to break even.

Another point is the failure of many regional and metropolitan papers. It's just too tough to make a profit these days. Reading takes time, and people would rather get a soundbite off of CNN than read the whole damn paper. Us older folks have noticed the general decline in quality of writing and grammar. Luckily, it doesn't intrude much here on E2. If everyone stole a paper on one day, it could be enough to bankrupt the local rag.

In conclusion, read newspapers because everyone can use the practice, and don't steal. Some of those newspaper delivery guys carry baseball bats.

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