Newspaper vending machines disappear along Hwy 9

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"They're not just stealing from me, they're removing access to the paper to the general public and the community. That's not OK," said Ray Appen, of Appen Newspapers.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - Police in north Fulton County are investigating a bizarre rash of thefts involving newspaper vending machines.
   
On Thursday, Channel 2's Mike Petchenik spoke to the publisher of a small weekly paper in Alpharetta about why he thinks someone's targeting his machines.

In a typical year, the publisher of Appen Newspapers said he might lose just a couple of the newspaper vending machines, but in just two months, someone has stolen nearly a dozen of them.

"They're not just stealing from me, they're removing access to the paper to the general public and the community.  That's not OK," said Ray Appen, of Appen Newspapers.

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He said the thief, or thieves, has been plucking the boxes from Highway 9 in Roswell and Alpharetta. It could be someone who doesn't like what the paper's written, but more likely, "My best guess is it's someone who's an addict, and he's stealing my boxes. He's breaking into cars and breaking into houses," Appen said.

He said each box costs him about $300 to replace, but probably doesn't fetch much on the black market.

"They're stealing a few quarters and some tin, and if they get caught, they're probably going to go to prison.  It's not worth it," he said.

So the newspaper publisher is hopeful someone will tell police the location of the machines and identify the thief.

"Someone somewhere has seen these white newspaper boxes.  They've seen them in someone's back yard, someone's garage.  They've seen them off in a ditch. They've seen them at a recycle center," Appen said.

He's offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the thief's arrest.