This week's installment includes a car that runs on soda and candy, stolen toilet paper, and Homeland Security snow cone machines.
Curses, Foiled Again
David Foley intended framing his landlord in Whitefish Bay, Wis., by sending a Milwaukee television station a CD containing child pornography. The station turned the disk over to police, who discovered it contained not only the planted porn, but also a stockpile of child porn belonging to Foley. Investigators said it also identified at least two children they said the one-time mentor for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program had molested. (Milwaukee’s WITI-TV)
German police reported that a 57-year-old man tried to rob a bank in Osnabrueck by seizing a female hostage, brandishing a gun and demanding a 10,000-euro ($13,483) ransom. “The plan failed, however,” according to a regional court statement at the man’s trial, “due to the fact that the building has not held a bank for more than a decade but rather a physiotherapy practice.” The robber improvised by demanding that a passer-by withdraw money from a cash machine in the building. She withdrew 400 euros, which he took before fleeing in a stolen car. He abandoned the car but left behind the gun, which turned out to be a toy but was covered with his fingerprints. The man, labeled by the Bild newspaper as “Germany’s dumbest bank robber,” received a seven-year prison sentence. (Agence France-Presse)
Ho, Ho, Ho, No!
The day after Linda Gipson lost her job, she was Christmas shopping at a mall in Ypsilanti, Mich., and took a break to drop off some gifts at her car. She loaded them into the trunk and headed back to the mall. An hour later, she returned to find her car there, but the one she had put the gifts in was gone. Another, identical gray Ford Focus had been parked in the same aisle as hers, and her key opened its trunk. “I screamed, ‘Don’t tell me I put them in the wrong car,’” she said. “It’s my kids’ Christmas.” (Detroit’s WXYZ-TV)
The day after the newspaper printed a story about Gail Larkin’s car being stolen from the parking lot of a shopping mall where Larkin was appearing as Mrs. Claus, she said the mall’s general manager told her she was fired for “negative publicity.” A spokesperson for Mesilla Valley Mall in Las Cruces, N.M., clarified that Larkin “couldn’t be fired because she was a volunteer,” so, “she was asked not to return” to the mall. “It’s not my fault my car was stolen,” she said, adding it’s “the kids” who suffer by her dismissal, “not me.” (Las Cruces Sun-News)
Thanks to a grant from the Michigan Homeland Security Program, 13 counties received Arctic Blast Sno-Cone machines costing a total of $11,700. Explaining that the machines can be used to make ice to prevent heat-related illnesses during emergencies, treat injuries and provide snow cones as an outreach at promotional events, Sandeep Dey, executive director of the regional agency responsible for overseeing homeland security in the counties, said requests for the machines would not have been granted by themselves but were approved because they were included with other homeland security equipment. Dey pointed out one county had requested a popcorn machine, but that request was denied. (Greenville’s The Daily News)
Don’t Steal the Charmin’
Three men walked into Burgers, Dogs and Wings in Albuquerque, N.M., immediately headed for the bathroom and walked out with about a dozen rolls of toilet paper. Noting the men appeared “messed up,” employee Josh Flannery-Stewart said, “They got in their car, and all of a sudden APD (Albuquerque Police Department) was surrounding them.” Police already had the men under surveillance as suspected drug dealers. (Albuquerque’s KOAT-TV)
Upset after checking into a motel in Charlotte, N.C., and finding his room had no toilet paper, an unidentified man walked upstairs to a vacant room that was being renovated and stuffed enough paper into the toilet to clog it, causing it to overflow and damage the carpet, as well as the ceiling of the room below. He also broke a blow dryer and several lights before returning to his own room and damaging more property. (Charlotte’s WBTV-TV)
Upset that the news media were devoting too much coverage to crime, Mayor Mike Winder of West Valley City, Utah, began writing upbeat articles using an alias. His stories appeared in several outlets, among them Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, which had begun accepting articles from contributors after cutting its newsroom staff. Submitting articles as Richard Burwash, Winder said all he had to do to get stories published was set up a Gmail account and a Facebook page. He communicated with editors by email and phone. As an unpaid writer for several months, Burwash even quoted himself as mayor, noting after revealing his true identity, “I was an easy source.” (Associated Press)
Declaring Independence from Foreign Oil
Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of Buckfield, Maine, set a distance record for a car that runs on candy and soda. During its test run, the Mark II single-seat rocket car, which uses a simple piston-and-cylinder mechanism to get it moving, traveled 239 feet, fueled by 54 bottles of Coke Zero and 324 Mentos. The previous record was 220 feet. (Associated Press)
The Great Train Robbery
Police in Brazil’s Sao Paulo state reported that thieves stole 55 tons of corn from a moving train by greasing the tracks to make the wheels of the locomotive hauling the 54 cars skid and slow down. Then they pulled alongside in a tow truck and used a hook to remove the corn-filled containers. (Associated Press)
The visitor rooms at Miami’s maximum-security Federal Detention Center have been taken over by South American pole dancers posing as paralegals for incarcerated drug lords, according to attorneys who complained that if they don’t provide strippers, they risk losing clients to colleagues who do. “The majority of these young, very attractive women are non-citizens brought in exclusively for the purposes of visiting the FDC,” veteran defense attorney Hugo Rodriguez said. “Any lawyer can sign a form and designate a legal assistant. There is no way of verifying it. The process is being abused.” He added, “They take off their tops and let the guys touch them.” (Miami New Times)
Diane Bozzi reported that someone targeting unlocked cars stole her mother’s ashes from her van, which was parked in Rochester, N.H. Bozzi explained she had the ashes in an urn in a bag to bring to her weekly bingo game for good luck. (Associated Press)
Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet.