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MAHONING VALLEY Vending box thefts cover wide area

By Patricia Meade

Thursday, October 25, 2001

The damaged newspaper boxes typically got dumped in fields or under bridges.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Coin-operated newspaper vending machines went missing while John J. Lysowski of Poland -- an admitted newspaper box bandit -- was out on bond.
"This guy's a nuisance. He's been stealing boxes from everywhere," said Capt. Robert Kane, chief of Youngstown detectives. "The damage he does, the value of the boxes, is more than the coins he gets."
The coin-operated machines, worth about $500 each, are usually destroyed when a thief rips open the aluminum casing to remove the change inside. For the past several months, damaged boxes have been found in fields and under bridges.
The Vindicator has had nearly 100 boxes stolen. Out-of-town and national publications such as the Cleveland Plain Dealer and USA Today also reported box thefts to police.
Written statement: This past weekend, in a written statement to Coitsville police, Lysowski, 35, admitted that, "of course," he took boxes for the cash inside. The Blue Ridge Drive man said he just looked for the orange Vindicator boxes and took whatever else was attached.
Allan P. Morris, assistant Coitsville police chief, said he hopes that whatever jail sentences Lysowski receives from the various jurisdictions are served consecutively, not concurrently.
Lysowski also has confessed theft of boxes to Boardman police and led them to where he dumped 20 of the machines.
Maj. Michael Budd of the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department said thefts have occurred in Canfield and Berlin townships, areas covered by the sheriff's department.
Communities affected: Lysowski is under investigation in some locations and being kept busy making court appearances in others:
*Boardman: two counts of felony theft and one count each of misdemeanor theft and criminal trespassing. He was released on an $8,000 recognizance bond Oct. 4. A direct presentment of the charges was made to a Mahoning County grand jury Oct. 11 and an indictment handed up that day.
*Coitsville: Two counts of felony theft. He is expected to be arraigned Friday morning in Campbell Municipal Court. These thefts occurred while he was out on bond from Boardman.
*Youngstown: One count of felony tampering with a coin machine and three counts of theft. Bond was set Wednesday at $60,000, and he will be back in court Friday for a preliminary hearing.
* Mahoning County Sheriff's Department (Canfield Township): Two counts each of felony theft and receiving stolen property. Lysowski appeared Wednesday evening in Canfield Court and entered no plea. Judge Scott Hunter set bond at $10,000 and a preliminary hearing for 10 a.m. Nov. 2.
*Austintown: "We've had a rash of thefts, Vindicator and others," said Lt. Joe Giampietro. The investigation continues. Detective Dan Kosco said he intended to interview Lysowski today and see if the man would confess. Lysowski told Boardman police that he took boxes in Austintown, Kosco said.
*Hubbard City: Boxes missing; detective Robert Altier not available.
Cost to paper: Alan Bowlby, Vindicator circulation director, said the prosecutor's office has indicated a willingness to push for an 18-month sentence.
"I hope it's over," Bowlby said. "We lost almost 100 racks worth $50,000 -- that's not including the $20 to $25 in each machine."
Bowlby said the boxes are being replaced or repaired and should be back in their familiar locations soon.