A newspaper theft syndicate that targeted the Sunday Times has been uncovered, landing 14 delivery van drivers at a Johannesburg distribution company in hot water ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â some for the second time in a year, write Werner Swart and Borrie le Grange in The Times.
The 14 drivers work for Allied Distributors, which distributes the Sunday Times and other newspapers to shops around Gauteng. The scam has not only cost the Sunday Times money, it also put a dent in the newspaperÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s circulation figures.
Cecil Peter, Allied DistributorsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ operations manager, said seven of the 14 drivers caught stealing and selling copies of newspapers intended for shops had been caught for the second time.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIn October last year we had a similar incident and seven of the drivers were up to no good. They [the seven] had to pay back the cost of the copies and they faced disciplinary steps,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Peter said.
This time around, the delivery documents again gave the auditors a smoking gun, proving that thousands of copies of the Sunday Times were unaccounted for at stores in the northern suburbs.
The drivers would pass the copies on to unauthorised street sellers, who pocketed the full cover price.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBear in mind that newspapers are easy to dispose of because they sell like hot cakes. During the time the incident happened, this led to a loss of about R70,000 of stock in three weeks,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Peter said.
He said the drivers would face internal disciplinary action, after which a decision on whether to lay criminal charges against them.
Clifford Fram, AvusaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s general manager for operations and circulation, said the Sunday Times had known for some time that a theft syndicate was operating .
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe believe that about 5,000 newspapers a week have been stolen that should have been on our audited circulation figures,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
Click here to read the full report, posted on thetimes.co.za.