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ROYAL OAK – Royal Oak police arrested a Warren resident on March 14 after he was observed tampering with a Between The Lines newspaper box at the corner of Fourth Street and Main. According to the report, officers were called to the scene when someone telephoned in and notified authorities that a suspicious man wearing a flannel shirt, thick black glasses and a stocking hat was wielding a caulking gun and attempting to seal a paper box shut. When police apprehended 28-year-old Jerry Douglas Hengehold about a block away, he was still in possession of the caulking gun.
In his report, Royal Oak’s Officer Teichow stated that Hengehold immediately confessed to attempting to seal the box at Fourth Street and Main as well as two additional BTL boxes in the area. He also told authorities that he had removed all of the papers from the three boxes and dumped them in local waste bins. He called the newspaper “trash.”
Hengehold was arrested on the spot and charged with malicious destruction of property. His bond was set at $100 and a citation was issued.
“Between The Lines plans on pursuing all legal remedies against this insidious act and its perpetrator,” said Jan Stevenson, co-publisher of the paper. “We take any effort to infringe upon the freedom of the press and our community’s first amendment rights very seriously.”
Those efforts have been on the rise as of late. At the same Royal Oak newspaper box that Hengehold was arrested for attempting to seal shut, a handwritten note was found in late January. A response to the paper’s cover story on SpongeBob SquarePants and the efforts of the religious right to label the character gay for appearing in a video to promote tolerance and diversity, the note read, “Look kids! It’s Spongebob. We never miss an opportunity to lure young children into a life of sodomy.” It is unknown whether Hengehold is responsible for the incident.
Problems have also been popping up in other cities around metro Detroit in the past several months.
“In Plymouth we had a box messed with and in Ferndale we’ve had problems,” said Ann Cox, BTL’s distribution manager. “And downtown we’ve had religious zealots putting their brochures in on top of our papers.”
Cox encourages any reader who witnesses anyone tampering with any BTL box to attempt to write down any license plate number or identifying information and notify her as soon as possible. Cox can be reached at 888-615-7003 extension 31. If the tampering appears malicious or if it is being attempted after normal business hours, she also encourages readers to notify local authorities immediately.
Cox said she’s especially grateful for the assistance of the Royal Oak police department in the Hengehold case.
“I am impressed,” she said. “I knew we had a problem in that area, but they caught the guy before I’d even had a chance to file a complaint.”