Coupon Theft is a Real Thing

We have to talk, America.  I kept my mouth shut when you thought you needed two television programs about pawn shops and seventeen reality shows about baking cakes, but this Extreme Couponing shit has to end.  Not only is it just a really stupid idea for a show, but apparently it has now led to the lamest crime wave in history.

According to USA Today, authorities are attributing a nationwide rash of newspaper thefts to the “extreme couponing craze,” which is the dumbest phrase I’ve ever been forced to repeat.  There is nothing “extreme” about couponing, and I’m pretty sure “couponing” isn’t a word because there’s a squiggly red line under it every time I type it.  A blog dedicated to this bullshit describes it as:

…an extreme sport that combines savvy shopping skills with couponing in an attempt to save as much money as possible while accumulating the most groceries.

Couponing for fun is sort of the opposite of extreme (and the opposite of a sport), so the fact that they have the balls to call it an “extreme sport” is actually a little impressive.

The premise behind the TLC show is that these are really lonely people with a really stupid hobby.  I guess I can appreciate that you might save money by hording a thousand coupons for Easy Mac, but what the fuck are you going to do with that much Easy Mac?  Do these people not realize that buying an entire pallet of Vaseline automatically puts you on an FBI watchlist?

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with using coupons.  I am, however, saying there’s something incredibly wrong with being so excited by watching other people use coupons for thirty minutes that it draws you to a life of crime.  It’s not like these are particularly smart or dangerous criminals–they’re stealing newspapers for the coupons inside, for Christ’s sake–but if America’s bored television viewers are really this impressionable, I think it’s time we took away their TVs.  Children are able to play Call of Duty without doing something stupid like blowing their friend’s head off or joining the Army, but these idiots can’t even watch something as mundane as people saving money without wanting to knock over a newsstand.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
“Officer, you don’t understand! That paper had a half-off coupon for Irish Spring!”

The worst part of this story is that even their motivation doesn’t make sense.  Put yourself in the shoes of one of these people for a moment.  You’re so desperate to save money at Walmart that you’re willing to resort to crime.  Maybe you make the effort to steal 185 copies of the Springdale Morning News like one Arkansas woman did.  You get home, you clip the coupons, and several hours later you’re ready to save some cash on Cup Noodles and Depends adult diapers (you don’t normally wear them, but you’re getting such a great deal!).  Congratulations on your lucrative criminal enterprise… but why not just steal the stuff you want to buy?  Stealing 185 newspapers isn’t less of a crime than stealing Totino’s frozen pizzas, and it’s only marginally less pathetic.

By the way, that woman who stole the 185 papers in Arkansas tried to tell police she didn’t realize it was a crime, and you know what?  I believe her.  Stealing a newspaper so you can get coupons to save money on stuff you could just be stealing in the first place is like a criminal Rube Goldberg machine, and somebody stupid enough to think that’s a worthwhile endeavor really shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions.

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