They’re at it again.
The unknown people who traversed the North Fork on Thursday — snatching up as many copies of the Riverhead News-Review and The Suffolk Times as possible — were reportedly cleaning out newsstands again Friday.
At least a dozen more business owners notified the papers’ parent company, Times/Review Newsgroup, Friday morning to request additional copies. About a dozen businesses also called Thursday to report all of their papers had been picked up, usually by one person.
Two different people have been hitting up the stores, according to the reports. Those people are paying for the newspapers, not stealing them, company officials emphasized.
“It’s at least two people, a man and a woman,” said Times/Review Newsgroup’s circulation manager, Laura Huber. “And the two claims have been that they’re using the papers to either move, or that they’re using it for a school project.
“The school project story seems to be the one that is sticking [with unsuspecting business owners].”
Ms. Huber warned those businesses that had not yet been targeted that may want to put copies aside “in the interest of preservation of their regular customers.”
She estimated the people who are buying the newspapers may have already spent between $5,000 and $10,000 as of early Friday afternoon.
It was not clear what was motivating the paper-buying frenzy.
John Biancaniello, owner of the 7-Eleven near the Roanoke Avenue traffic circle said on Thursday a woman came into the store and bought the 90 remaining copies of the News-Review and the 32 remaining copies of the Suffolk Times for a total $183.
The woman said she was using the papers to move, though she did not buy any copies of Newsday or The Southampton Press, which are also on sale at the store. Times/Review publications sell for $1.50 per copy while Newsday is $.75 and the Southampton Press is $1.
“I didn’t even get a chance to get one,” Mr. Biancaniello said.
An employee at Bapa Cards, located in the Walmart shopping center in Riverhead, also said one person came in Thursday and purchased nearly all the copies about 11 a.m., but did not say how many.
An employee of the 7-Eleven on Route 58 near the Department of Motor Vehicles said multiple people came in and requested copies, with the first patron being cut off at 40 copies. Another came in soon after, but that person was only allowed to buy 10.
A woman called the Times/Review office in Mattituck Thursday morning asking for a list of all newsstands in town. A Times/Review employee denied that request. When the woman told the employee she was located off Roanoke Avenue, the employee directed her to the nearby 7-Eleven, which soon sold out.