NOW YOU SEE IT: The Mercury News promised to return Metro news racks found in their scrap metal dumpster. The rack on the right, however, disappeared less than 48 hours later, and the Merc can't explain why.
A key piece of evidence has disappeared in the San Jose Mercury News rack theft caper.
Last week, San Jose police were called to the newspaper’s headquarters after an independent distribution firm discovered its news racks—along with those of more than a dozen other local publications—in a metal recycling dumpster behind the daily’s plant.
The recycling container, about the dimensions of a mid-sized moving van’s cargo area, was mostly full, and more news boxes were stacked around the dumpster. The operation to round up and destroy racks apparently targeted the distribution channels of competitors to San Ramon–based Bay Area News Group (BANG), which owns daily newspapers from Marin to Monterey, including the Mercury News, and community weeklies in Silicon Valley.
“We’d been losing at least three a week,” said Tom Lilledahl, of Mountain View–based Circulation Management Inc. After racks disappeared on Willow Glen’s Lincoln Avenue and The Alameda in San Jose, CMI personnel went to the Mercury News’ Ridder Park Drive plant and found its missing property, along with news boxes of Metro, the Palo Alto Daily Post, the Mountain View Voice, Good Times, La Oferta, the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.
When shocked representatives of Metro, the Palo Alto Daily Post and CMI showed up at the Ridder Park Drive plant to reclaim their property, San Jose police officers and Mercury News security personnel ordered them to wait on the sidewalk. The Daily Post‘s publisher was reportedly threatened with arrest when he went to recover a rack.
The situation was defused after SJPD offered to take a report and document the evidence, and a Mercury News executive agreed to remove the racks from the dumpster, count and organize the racks and allow the publications to recover their property the next day.