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Update: Thousands of Spinnakers Stolen, State Attorney Says Case Won’t be Prosecuted


Surveillance footage from the Fountains courtesy of University Police.  Contact UPD at (904) 620-2800.
Surveillance footage from the Fountains courtesy of University Police. Contact UPD at (904) 620-2800.

UPDATE: In a meeting between Spinnaker Media Advisor John Timpe, University Police Lt. Mike Gwines, and Director of County and Juvenile Court Julie Taylor, the State Attorney laid out why she determined there was no crime in the taking of thousands of copies of the UNF Spinnaker from campus stacks on June 13.

Taylor said that by setting papers out without a method for people to pay, a value cannot be placed on the paper, therefore making it legal in the eyes of the office.

“Because there was no true value that could be placed on the papers, that no charges were pursued,” said Taylor.

Harn, said he was frustrated that they did not realize the monetary cost. “At this point it’s pretty upsetting, because obviously we want, if not justice and punishment for this crime, we want at least monetary reimbursement for what we lost .”

Taylor said that cases are only filed when it is felt that a charge can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I have an ethical obligation to only file something that I feel that I can prove.”

Folio Weekly, a free weekly news publication in the area, has also had problems with issues being taken from stands in the past. Sam Taylor, Publisher of Folio Weekly, said that in 26 years of printing Folio has been hit en masse five times, usually with an offended party taking the papers in the area close to their business or home.

“We did a story on a polluter, but that polluter really was in one part of the market and they went around behind our driver and as soon as our driver put them in the rack they had another van pick them right back up,” said Taylor. “They’ve got a vested interest in stopping us from getting the word out.”

Other districts in Florida have had prosecutions related to student publications being stolen, most recently at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. In the FAU instance, over 2000 copies were dumped into trash cans around campus, and this dumping resulted in the arrest of a grad student for grand theft.

In the case of UNF, University Police never formally opened a case with the State Attorney, though both offices were coordinating throughout the investigation. Despite circulating the photos of the men who took the papers, UPD officers have not been able to confirm the identity of the two men in the surveillance video.

Previously reported by Bryan Baker

Within two days of being dropped in boxes around campus, thousands of issues of the June 12 edition of the Spinnaker were gone, according to a University Police Department complaint filed by Spinnaker Editor-In-Chief Jacob Harn.

During the investigation of the complaint, UPD released pictures from multiple cameras at Osprey Fountains showing two men approaching a newspaper box and taking stacks of newspapers.

At 5:48 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, time-stamped pictures show the men driving up to the roundabout outside the Fountains and parking in the fire lane. At 5:51 p.m. they walk to the blue paper box and remove a stack of papers. At 5:55 p.m. they walk back outside, put the newspapers in the back of a vehicle and drive away.

Besides the Fountains drop box, 2,700-2,800 papers were taken from 27 locations on campus, Harn said. An additional 100-200 were taken after that.

Harn first noticed the missing issues Friday, June 14, but thought the sudden disappearance wasn’t a bad thing.

“The morning of Friday I had checked all the Student Union locations, and there were no papers left,” Harn said. “Just thinking it must have been a good issue, I refilled them without thinking twice about it.”

It wasn’t until Harn started refilling boxes at a bus stop and the library that he thought something might be wrong.

“The moment when I got the suspicion, I went around the corner and checked [a paper box],” Harn added.  “At that point I was thinking, ‘Oh, no.’ As it started pouring down [rain] I started running just around the perimeter of campus and one [box] after the other: empty, empty, empty.”

The Spinnaker is free for students to pick up one copy each but is, in fact, subscribed to on their behalf through UNF Student Government. SG pays the Spinnaker subscription fee out of its budget.

The Spinnaker makes the rest of its revenue from newspaper advertising.  Harn said the financial loss is added to the loss of hundreds of work hours put in by dozens of staff at the Spinnaker.



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