Newsstands in Philadelphia have been disappearing in the middle of the night. It seems a man who didn’t own them hired a crane to just yank them off the sidewalk and move them to corners where he felt like operating newsstands:

A man hired a crane to uproot six newsstands Sunday that were not his and transport them to six other corners where he had applied for permits but had not received approval to do business, said a stunned city official yesterday.
“That’s stealing,” said Licenses & Inspections Commissioner Robert D. Solvibile. “I believe he knew exactly what he was doing. And now he’ll have to pay the price.”
While the police major-crimes unit investigated the bizarre heist, Solvibile wondered yesterday what possessed Ofatai King, aka John King, aka Fatai O. King, to make the surreal snatch.
“I went to Catholic school,” Solvibile said, “where this would be considered a mortal sin. I would have had to confess to the priest.”

Having to confess to a priest? Isn’t that cruel and unusual punishment?
No word from the accused stand-snatcher, and while the story is funny, I’m sure it wasn’t funny for the newsstand owners (described as “new immigrants, who own newsstands but speak little or no English”) who showed up at work to find their businesses physically gone. That ought to make new immigrants think twice about the meaning of “land of opportunity.”
What’s remarkable about this is that (if the reports are correct) the suspect had enough chutzpah to actually apply for newsstand permits at the six locations to which the stands were moved. As well as 36 other locations:

Solvibile showed the Daily News 42 newsstand-license applications that King filed on April 1, including ones for the six corners where the shanghaied stands were dumped.
None of those applications has been approved, he said. So, King has no permission to do business at any of the 42 corners.
He certainly had no permission, Solvibile said, to uproot someone else’s business – candy, magazines and all – and slam it down halfway across the city.

According to another story, he claims the city gave him permission:

Police tracked down the man who hired the crane. He apparently claims Licenses and Inspections okayed him to do this. Not true, says L & I.
?At this point no approvals have been given to Mr. King to have a newsstand anywhere.?

I very much doubt they did.
Although I guess he might have asked when he could move “existing newsstands” to the new locations.
I have no idea whether it’s the same man, but the Small Business Tax and Management web site has a report about newsstand deductions involving someone with the same name:

Fatai O. and Mary King (T.C. Memo. 1999- 293) … claimed a deduction for amounts paid to lottery winners at their newsstand. The Court found that checks they represented as paid to those winners showed no evidence of that. Moreover, their testimony was less than convincing. In another issue, the Court found that records purportedly showing repair expenses appeared to be altered.

It will probably all be called a “misunderstanding.” Anyway, at this point, no one seems to have been charged with any crime, and of course all suspects are innocent until proven guilty.
(I just hope no one figures out a way to snatch blogs in the middle of the night.)