Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Man arrested for stealing free newspapers

A man who allegedly was stealing copies of the free Epoch Times at San Francisco's Transbay Terminal Station on Tuesday was arrested by police, the newspaper reports. The Epoch Times is a weekly that opposes China's communist government and is affiliated with the Falun Gong faith, which is banned in China. The paper has both English and Chinese language editions. It is distributed in several U.S. cities and has a newsroom in San Francisco.

The paper posted this photo of the arrest on its Web site. The suspect was not identified because the Times said police are investigating the thefts. Epoch Times' distributors said they saw the man empty more than 10 boxes before he was arrrested. The Times said it has filed police reports in the past about "severe newspaper box vandalism and theft which is taking place in Chinatown, areas close to Chinatown, or neighborhoods heavily populated with immigrants from mainland China."

Last year, California made it illegal to steal large quantities of free newspapers and a similar law has been on the books in San Francisco for several years.

The Epoch Times said it has been the victim of newspaper thieves before. It also distributes in Los Angeles, where in 2005 an "armed man of Asian descent followed a regular route through the city, pilfering papers from their boxes," the Times said. The man was reportedly arrested for assault. The newspaper also says San Francisco police were given a videotape of a woman stealing its papers in the city's Richmond District, but apparently no arrests have been made.

In 2005, the Epoch Times' San Francisco editor, Alex Ma, reported that his home was burglarized twice. He believes the burglaries were the work of Chinese government agents.

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