Man buys hundreds of newspapers to cover up arrest
January 8, 2017
Say you’ve been arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated.
You know the local newspaper puts mug shots of everyone who’s been arrested in the paper. You don’t want anyone to see your photo and learn of the arrest.
So you do the only logical thing: You go buy up all the copies of the paper at newsstands.
Only, oops, this only turns what had been a small local story into a national one, sparking write-ups in The Washington Post, Time and a slew of other publications.
That’s apparently what happened to Joseph Talbot, who was arrested in upstate New York on Dec. 29. When he got his picture taken, he objected to police, noting quite correctly that the local weekly paper, The Times of Wayne County, runs mug shots of everyone who’s arrested.
Police shot the photo anyway. So Talbot seemingly moved on to plan B: Stop anyone from actually seeing the paper.
A massive buy-up
According to Ron Holdraker, the owner and publisher of the paper, a man he later identified as Talbot began buying up hundreds of copies of the paper to prevent others from seeing the mug shot and accompanying story.
Store owners called Holdraker, who restocked the papers where he could.
Alas, there were several things Talbot apparently didn’t count on. One is that newsstand distribution is just a small sliver of the Times’ total circulation. Two is that the story would be printed on the Times’ website, so people were going to see the mug shot no matter how many copies he bought.
And three is that the absurd story went viral, drawing attention across the country and turning a small item on a police blotter into a national sensation.
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