Florida Police Officer Confesses to Stealing Recent Spinnaker Issues at UNF

A Florida state trooper has confessed to stealing copies of a recent issue of The Spinnaker student newspaper at the University of North Florida. Apparently the law enforcement officer took part in the theft to protect a friend who had been arrested on campus for video voyeurism and was featured in the issue’s police beat section. 

As I previously posted, roughly 3,000 copies of a mid-June Spinnaker issue mysteriously disappeared from 27 locations around UNF. Editor in chief Jacob Harn and others quickly suspected theft. They estimated the mass pilfering cost the paper $4,600, “which includes advertisements and printing costs, as well as over 150 paid and volunteer hours from students working for Spinnaker.”

According to a new Spinnaker report, police used campus surveillance videos to identify one of the thieves as northeast Florida highway patrol officer Steven Coppola. Coppola, who was off duty at the time of his Spinnaker swipe, is also a UNF alumnus.

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Interestingly, Coppola then called the paper and left a voicemail confirming his involvement in the theft and explaining why he took part.

The gist:

“A friend of Coppola’s, 25-year-old Joshua Hott, was reported on in the June issue’s Police Beat. Hott was arrested outside of the Lazzara Performing Arts Center May 30 and charged with video voyeurism. The police report said a suspect was seen taking video of an 18 year-old male as he was using the restroom. The victim noticed and chased the suspect outside where he tackled him to the ground. The victim’s parents held the suspect there until police arrived. Coppola said he was concerned about how the coverage might affect Hott’s younger brother, who is currently a UNF student. Coppola and a friend decided to take the papers to prevent the story from getting out — a decision Coppola said he regrets.”

Does he regret actually taking the papers or simply being caught?

It is unclear if and how Coppola will be punished by his police colleagues. Harn is also apparently considering a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the paper.

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Related

Summer Newspaper Theft: UNF Spinnaker Editor Finds Newsstands ‘Empty, Empty, Empty’

Breaking News: Spinnaker Papers Stolen Less Than a Week After Pacemaker Win

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  1. […] College Media Matters points out, it is unclear what, if anything, will happen to Coppola. A spokesperson for the Florida Highway Patrol emphasised to the Spinnaker that Copolla was off […]

  2. […] College Media Matters points out, it is unclear what, if anything, will happen to Coppola. A spokesperson for the Florida Highway Patrol emphasized to the Spinnaker that Copolla was off […]