Coupon junkie busted stealing precious newspapers

An Arkansas woman’s penny-pinching ways may cost her.

Newspaper fan and former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox knew how to collect coupons.

Newspaper fan and former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox goes couponing in 1970.

“Extreme couponer” Jamie VanSicker, whose last name is not made up, failed to pay for more than 180 newspapers she grabbed from various racks, police say.

Newspapers — a daily trove of money-saving coupons and important information — are popular with “extreme couponers,” folks who dedicate a significant portion of their lives to hoarding household goods for reduced prices.

“Her defense was that she didn’t know it was a crime,” says Lt. Kevin Lewis of the Springdale Police Department.

That excuse has yet to work anywhere.

When the newspaper employees didn’t find any extra papers, they assumed all of the papers had been sold, writes a reporter for KSDK Channel 5. Thus, newspaper workers were putting even more papers in the racks.

VanSicker kept taking them — as many as 62 per night. The thefts were caught on surveillance cameras.

Police say she grabbed at least 185 papers worth $231.

VanSicker,  charged with misdemeanor theft of property, says she is disappointed the newspaper went public and pressed charges, according to her attorney.

Extreme couponing may save money, but it is giving a “black eye” to legions of legit coupon collectors, said Andrea Woroch, a consumer expert with Kinoli Inc.

Despite the savings, Woroch said  ”extreme couponing” isn’t for everyone.

She offered up the following warnings in an email:

  • It Requires Serious Stockpiling: If you’ve watched [TLC's "Extreme Couponers"], you know coupon junkies dedicate huge amounts of square footage to storing their over-the-top purchases. Even kids’ bedrooms aren’t off limits when space becomes tight. Some claim they donate a portion of their surplus to food banks, but the majority clearly ends up in their homes. Ultimately, you have to question how many tubes of toothpaste you actually need. Sales happen all the time but, for most of us, space is a premium.
  • You Have to Be Selfish: I saw a lady at our local supermarket entirely clean out a shelf of popular cereal. Sure enough, the ubiquitous coupon binder was perched on her shopping-cart handles. This method leaves nothing for casual shoppers who want to take advantage of a sale. Even little kids know the best practice is to share and share alike.
  • It Consumes Your Free Time: You can’t just dedicate a few minutes on Sunday to scanning the inserts and expect to save hundreds of dollars. Extreme couponers dedicate many hours each week to finding, clipping and sorting. That isn’t frugality; it’s a serious commitment. Done properly, you can actually spend roughly one hour per week and still make a dent in your grocery bill. The Coupon Sherpa app allows you to search by ZIP code for the supermarket in which you’re shopping, check for desired coupons, then download them to your store loyalty card.
  • You Must Make Multiple Stops: You really can’t just shop at one store. You have to match coupons with the right merchants then run around filling shopping carts. If you stick to your favorite retailers, you’ll spend less time under those irritating fluorescent lights.
  • You Become a People User: The shoppers featured on “Extreme Couponers” usually involve family and friends in the process. While they may consider this a fun activity, most people find it stressful and overwhelming. If you do find a soul willing to help you, make sure there’s a reward at the end of the process. Buy them lunch or better yet, why not offer them some items from your grocery hunt!
  • It Takes Over Your Life: Do you really want to be known as the nutty coupon lady (or man)? When extreme couponing takes over your life, it’s time to sit back and do a reality check.

Translated, that means “Relax and learn to love watching baseball.”

48 comments Add your comment


August 11th, 2011
3:04 pm

So some thief is “disappointed” she is forced to be held accountable just like any other thief? Seriously? I guess the soccer mom crowd should be exempt. No way she felt entitled.


August 11th, 2011
4:30 pm

What? She couldn’t find a coupon for a subscription???



August 11th, 2011
4:35 pm



August 11th, 2011
4:52 pm

Wonder if she has a coupon for 50% off her bail bond?


August 11th, 2011
6:44 pm

Hey!! Look what Kim found on AJC!! Too funny!!


August 11th, 2011
6:45 pm

Enter your comments here


August 11th, 2011
9:32 pm

Extreme couponing is just organized hoarding.

Crime Beat

August 11th, 2011
9:51 pm

what does the lady look like? A couple of coupon queens at my publix are ultra hot.


August 11th, 2011
9:54 pm

I saw people like this every day while working for Publix. What’s even more pathetic is that the stores are willing to be scammed rather than risk losing customers by telling someone “No”.


August 11th, 2011
10:00 pm

It is an epidemic! Stop buying all of my Cinnamon Toast Crunch when it goes on sale at Publix. You can at least leave one box for me! You know cereal has an expiration date right?


August 11th, 2011
10:05 pm

Old Geezer

August 11th, 2011
10:07 pm

women who obsess about coupons have replaced those with too many cats, eventually they will die alone surrounded by all their precious bargains.


August 11th, 2011
10:09 pm



August 11th, 2011
11:00 pm

“VanSicker, charged with misdemeanor theft of property, says she is disappointed the newspaper went public and pressed charges” Newspapers have a hard enough time already making a profit and she’s upset because they went public and press charges And to add insult to injury, she said she didn’t know it was a crime. Suppose someone broke into her once a week and took something without paying for it, would she consider it a crime. I tell you the real crime. It is her failure to take responsibility for her actions.


August 11th, 2011
11:57 pm

I’ll bet she was fat. All psycho couponers are fat.


August 12th, 2011
1:14 am

I hate when that happens.


August 12th, 2011
5:37 am

used to work for newspaper in Houston back in the “80s. rack theft was a huge problem back then also. paper lost tons of money to thieves on weekends. time for these stores to put limits on how many coupons they will redeem!!


August 12th, 2011
7:27 am

I love Woroch’s comments. So true. I have been a coupon’er (not extreme) for over 10 years. This epidemic makes me sick. The women (and men) trudging down the isle with their 20 pound coupon organizer racing and pushing others for the processed food that they can get for a penny using coupons. Im sure their local cardiac center will appreciate them in the future.


August 12th, 2011
7:33 am

do we really need more proof that these people are essentially, NUTS? Talk about obsessive compulsive behavior. People coming into stores with books of coupons should be barred at the door. You know, save them from themselves and save us from them as well. I believe the highly scientific name for these folks is CRAZY.


August 12th, 2011
7:48 am

I agree, Nikki. When I really take the time to coupon, I can save about $50 a week, but I use what I buy and if we do have extras, we donate to the local food pantry. I watched a couple of episodes of “Extreme Couponing” and it made me sick. I just wanted to slap those selfish, hoarding idiots.

Call the AJC

August 12th, 2011
7:50 am

Do everyone a favor. If you see someone stealing papers or simply taking the inserts out without buying the paper, call the AJC and tell them where you saw it happen. Store management may not do anything but the AJC probably will. It DOES matter to the AJC because circulation is audited every year, and that directly impacts advertising revenue. Also, companies who provide coupons for their products are on a redemption budget. If too many coupons get redeemed, fewer coupons will be provided in the future. No one needs 25 boxes of cereal or 40 bottles of mustard…and stores shouldn’t allow people to buy that many with coupons.

Old Geezer

August 12th, 2011
8:07 am

The AJC has no police force or prosecutorial abilities to enforce or prevent a person from stealing coupons from the papers inside stores. It’s s newspaper people! Good luck getting someone on the phone who cares on a Saturday or Sunday when you call to complain. The store suspecting theft should keep the papers behind the counter where they can’t be picked through, let someone willing to buy one ask at the counter for it. Like cigarettes.

Not Blind

August 12th, 2011
8:30 am

Woroch missed a warning to the idiot couponers : When you are at the register trying to scam the store by submitting non-applicable coupons and then going through your little envelop trying to find another coupon to use all the people behind you in line will want to run over your nappy behind out in the parking lot.


August 12th, 2011
8:40 am

I have been couponing for years and am sick and tired of the coupon hawgs! There is really no reason to clear the shelf or steal coupons. This is one of the reasons the stores have started to crackdown on people.


August 12th, 2011
8:44 am

I’m surprised more companies, who have coupons printed, don’t just put “limited to 2 per customer” on the ticket. I realized some of these bonehead would make multiple trips, but at least it would inconvenience them.


August 12th, 2011
9:02 am

Lots of these coupons are being sold on Ebay. I purchased coupons on Ebay. I wondered how they got the coupons to make it worth their while. Now I know. When Manufacturers put coupons on the outside of their products these are also often being stolen. Shame!!


August 12th, 2011
9:25 am

I’ve been couponing for years. Even as a kid, I loved getting the Sunday paper and clipping coupons for the things I knew we used and organizing them. Then I’d go grocery shopping with my mom and try to save as much money as possible. I got out of the habit for a few years when I was super busy but then decided I would try a new method and limit myself to 1 hour per week. I’ve figured out what works for me and spend about 30 minutes before I go grocery shopping each week to get the coupons I know I’ll use ready. I do use one of the websites that matches what is on sale with coupons but I only shop at one store and only buy what we normally use.It pisses me off when I want two of an item that is on sale (this weekend it was a specific cereal my son likes) and there was none left. Luckily the store did have some stashed in the back so when I asked, they brought me out two boxes. But jeesh, these extremists are getting on my nerves when they clean the shelves out. I don’t have time to shop multiple stores, multiple times a week and I’m certainly not storing extra stuff under my kid’s bed!


August 12th, 2011
9:42 am

You will find many of these products for sale at your local Indian owned convenience stores. They purcase with coupons then sell at their “convenient to them…outrageous to us” prices. Legalized theft working at both ends.

Gracie Mae

August 12th, 2011
10:02 am

We don’t prosecute illegal immigrants, why should we prosecute a poor woman trying to save money and make a better life for herself?


August 12th, 2011
12:13 pm

Gracie Mae – and we don’t prosecute you for your stupidity!

Gross Processed Food!

August 12th, 2011
12:41 pm

@ NIKKI: I couldn’t agree with you more….I giggle whenever I see the giant notebook/organizer of coupons and a cartful of crap food…..**shakes head**. Whatever floats their boat!


August 12th, 2011
1:26 pm

@SheShe – how is it “legalized theft” if it is entirely your choice to purchase from the “Indian owned convenience stores” or not? Is somebody forcing you to purchase from there?


August 12th, 2011
2:01 pm

A year ago, I asked another coupon queen, Jill Cataldo, what she was going to do when the stores stopped taking coupons, other retailers clamped down on them so badly that they weren’t worth using, and manufacturers and stores quit offering them because they could no longer afford to take the loss…I still haven’t heard back.

I myself don’t use the bloody things–I eat foods that they don’t make coupons for. You know–REAL FOODS. I also follow the Paleo diet–due to multiple food allergies, I have no choice. Why drink anything else besides tap water when you’ve already paid for it? Get off the high horse and get a faucet filter!

These people think and say they get stuff for free or severely discounted, but it takes stunts like this, multiple subscriptions to papers, magazines, and online coupon-clipping sites, and the purchase of three or more computers to print online coupons in sufficient quantity to do it. Where’s the savings?

You ask me, this is the MOST EXPENSIVE way to go about getting so-called “free” food…or even so-called free “food.”

I see Rodney above has mentioned one very important trap to all this crazed couponing–expiration dates. Jill Cataldo herself has been guilty of loading up on expired foods, and several others have loaded up on food without noticing the maximum 2-year expiration date. What good is hoarding food when you can’t eat it safely in the end?

Lady M is right–it IS organized hoarding. Think about what foods these people are buying now, and what their health care costs are going to be in the future because of it. Worse, guess who’s going to have to pick up their health care tab? You and me, courtesy of Obamacare.

Want cheap food? Garden, forage, hunt, and/or fish. No coupons, no marketing, and no retailers involved–that’s where the cost is.


August 12th, 2011
2:12 pm

I heard some of the manufacturers were placing limits on the number of their items you could purchase. My sister in law, who doesn’t work because she spends hours everyday clipping coupons, buys bags of things she could never use and certainly can’t afford. It isn’t a bargain if you don’t need it!!

I have also seen food being sold at yard sales. I was told they bought the food with coupons and were trying to make money selling it for more than what they paid for it, but less than what it sold for in the store without a coupon.

Susan Suire

August 12th, 2011
2:26 pm

Anything can be overdone! Moderation, moderation, moderation…..


August 12th, 2011
2:53 pm

Not ALL couponers are bad!! I am a couponer and I do not clear shelves, I do not steal papers, I am not a hoarder, I do not use family and friends. And I DO have a binder. The TV show puts those crazy people on b/c if they put on normal couponers, no one would watch.


August 12th, 2011
3:11 pm

Totally agree KCLlinda. I too am a couponer, don’t clear shelves, don’t steal coupons and don’t use family and friends. And I have a binder to organize my coupons. I use what I buy and absolutely hate the way the extreme couponers and their show portray couponing.

use coupons, but DAMN.....

August 12th, 2011
3:19 pm

@ Wenchypoo – Fishing cheap? Yes. Hunting? Not at all, unless you process your own kills…once those costs are figured in, along with your rifle or bow and ammo, hunting is more of a hobby than a survival skill…’s far cheaper to buy meat at the store, and I’ve never seen anyone break a leg falling out of a deer stand at Kroger…..yet.


August 12th, 2011
3:42 pm

These people are stupid, who cares if it’s a great deal unless you can actually use it? If you buy more than you can use before it goes bad, you’ve just wasted the products on top of wasting your time and money. It’s cheaper to just buy what you need as you need it and quit abusing the system.


August 13th, 2011
7:10 am

These coupon nuts exhibit all the signs of obsessive personalities who have empty, pathetic lives. To be driven to steal is just another example of an inability to control their own actions. What a nut!


August 13th, 2011
6:25 pm

@wenchypoo “Want cheap food? Garden, forage, hunt, and/or fish. No coupons, no marketing, and no retailers involved–that’s where the cost is.”



August 14th, 2011
7:36 am

One thing from watching these shows…I’ve never noticed them buying any meat, milk, fruits or vegetables. While they are hoarding all of these products to use, are they actually providing their families with decent meals? Plus, if you look at a lot of the people who do the extreme couponing, I’ve noticed many of them are overweight. I’m not saying that all are like this…but, extreme couponing has to take a toll on a good diet.

Brother Bill

August 14th, 2011
10:44 am

Even with coupons, you are still buying garbage.
Cheap chemical toothpaste, sugary GMO cereals, plastic wrap.

Ever notice that fresh produce never has coupons? But that is the best food for you!


August 14th, 2011
11:39 am

Well there are three sides to every story don’t you know?
(1) The newspapers created this extreme clipping by providing the Coupons in the first place for their own potential gains.

(2) The newspaper which I won’t mention any names just that they are the number one paper in Atlanta and when I called them I spoke with an Indie person who says they are from Indiana, my thoughts they are adding the na to India thus fabricating a huge lie leading one to believe that these people are from here in the States. I’ve tried a little experiment and I called them a couple times each time getting a different person and each time that was a person from India. Call it a coincident or call it for what it is stealing jobs from the American people. Okay so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Say the are from Indiana, why are they paying people in Indiana to do our jobs here in Georgia?????? See where I’m going with this?? They have a hell of a lot of nerve saying this woman stole $231.00 when everyday the Newspaper is stealing jobs, our jobs. Which by the way adds up to much much more than $231.00 would you agree? It’s time we stand up and take our jobs back. I call this stealing because we the American people pay for and read the paper not the foreigners and certainly not the people from India

3) Just maybe if our jobs were kept here in the States and big Company was made to pay a thrifty head Tax for all overseas jobs that was given away TWO THINGS would happen. Just maybe we could put people to work and they just might have the extra to spend on the Newspaper and or just maybe our deficit would be much lower and be in the Billions with a B and not the Trillions with a T.

Just a side note with what they are spending to prosecute that Woman we could pay a couple people part time thus contributing are week recovery.
This is just the opinion of a proud American who believes that it is time to say enough to big Company and if need be boycott the Companies that feel they need to send our jobs overseas. I am in no way shape or form prejudice and have nothing against people from India it’s just that I want our jobs kept here at home taking care of our deficit and contributing to a stronger economic recovery.
“We The People” Our constitution gives us the right to Unite and stand tall. But we all know that divided we will fall.


August 14th, 2011
11:52 am

I don’t understand the picture of Lester Maddox, and the caption does not make sense. I’m confused.


August 15th, 2011
9:20 pm

I coupon, and I loathe the “shelf-clearers.” If I see a deal, I generally opt for one or two of the product, and never more than 6. And once I have a stockpile of ten tubes of toothpaste, guess what? I DON’T NEED TO GET ANYMORE FOR A FEW MONTHS. Coupons go in cycles, there will always be other deals, and you have to leave plenty for everyone else. Even if you can get a tube of toothpaste for $.25, what’s the point if you already have ten at home? The same deal will be available once you need to stock up again, so just simmer. And for the people who steal inserts from the papers – SHAME on you!!!

[...] AJC-An Arkansas woman’s penny-pinching ways may cost her. “Extreme couponer” Jamie VanSicker, whose last name is not made up, failed to pay for more than 180 newspapers she grabbed from various racks, police say. [...]


August 18th, 2011
5:10 pm

Bet she’s a conservative! They are good at theivery!!