Wall Street Journal joins the fun after a thoughtful note to a Berkeley thief goes viral

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A surveillance camera outside Berkeley business Skylight & Sun caught two people, working on behalf of the Wall Street Journal, posting two notes on a gate on Blake Street. Image: courtesy Richard Nagler

The Wall Street Journal couldn’t resist joining in the fun after it read about a note written by local businessman and photographer Richard Nagler to a thief who had deprived him — on and off for ten years — of his subscription to the newspaper.

Yesterday, two people, working on behalf of the Journal, posted two notes outside Nagler’s Skylight & Sun store, in the same place as Nagler’s now celebrated note to the newspaper thief. (See the notes below.)

Both notes are signed by Gerard Baker, editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal. One is addressed to Nagler and offers him a free iPad with the WSJ app “to make up for your loss.” The other is addressed to “the Berkeley man who took Richard Nagler’s paper over so many years,” and it offers him a subscription to the paper for $12 for the first twelve weeks. (He simply needs to click on wsj.com/subscribedontsteal).

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The two new notes, at left, posted on the evening of March 24, 2015, from the WSJ along with the original note posted by Richard Nagler to the man who had been stealing his subscription copy of the paper on and off for a decade. Photo: Richard Nagler

Nagler not only found the notes, he has video footage of the pair who posted them — if you’ve been following this entertaining story you will know it was only after Nagler installed a surveillance camera that he was able to confirm his paper had gone missing intermittently for all those years because someone else was equally keen to read it.


Asked how he felt about the Journal’s opportunistic move, Nagler told Berkeleyside: “Those right-wing saboteurs not only defaced my valuable property, they are trying to set me up with a confrontation with the IRS. They know I’ll have to report the iPad and subscription as a gift and pay tax. They’re trying to win me over to their side. I smell Rupert Murdoch behind all this.”

It all started when Berkeleyside broke the story about the note written by Nagler to the person taking his newspaper. Reader Marty Schiffenbauer had shared a photograph of the note with Berkeleyside, and we followed up with Nagler after realizing he was its author.

The note, which the thief read, had an impact: while he did not take up Nagler’s offer to “borrow” the paper and return it in good condition, “with no coffee stains,” he has not taken the paper since reading the note on March 13 (also captured on camera).

Suzi Watford from the Wall Street Journal said the paper decided to do something after reading about the debacle. “We’ve been following the story of Richard Nagler’s letter and appreciate your bringing his struggle to get his paper to our attention,” she wrote Berkeleyside. She said they got in touch with Nagler via the notes to make sure he never missed reading the paper again.

The story proved immensely popular, not least because it seemed to exemplify for many people a quintessentially Berkeley spirit which is widely admired. The story was picked up by local TV stations, the Huffington Post, NPR Morning Edition, Laughing Squid, and Jim Romenesko among others.

And it turns out Nagler is not totally immune to bribery. “If it were a laptop or a desktop they offered, I could definitely see myself switching over to FOX from MSNBC,” he told us.

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The note from the Wall Street Journal addressed to Richard Nagler. Image: courtesy Richard Nagler
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The note from the Wall Street Journal addressed to the newspaper thief. Photo: Richard Nagler
The original note posted by Richard Nagler addressed to the paper thief. Photo: Marty Schiffenbauer
The original note posted by Richard Nagler addressed to the paper thief. Photo: Marty Schiffenbauer

Related:
A Berkeley note to a newspaper thief gets results (03.19.15)
‘To the man who has been taking my Wall Street Journal’ (03.19.15)

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