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August 2008

12 August 2008

A man visited an adult goods shop in Longmont, Colorado, and explained that he was a police detective who wanted to make sure performers in the shop's X-rated videos weren't minors. He showed a badge and left a business card from the age verification unit of the local police department. No such unit exists. Commander Tim Lewis said that the persistent man, seeking free pornographic films, tried this approach three times within nine days. The store manager finally rang the police to report him.

According to AFP reports, the wind lifted a house-sized inflatable artwork about 200 metres from the grounds of the Paul Klee Centre in Berne, Switzerland. After leaving the art museum, the piece of art, in the shape of a dog turd, broke a greenhouse window and brought down a power line. The work, titled 'Complex Shit', finally came to rest at a children's home after breaking its window. Museum director Juri Steiner said a safety system that causes the piece of art to deflate in inclement weather had malfunctioned and that it might not be put on display at his facility again.

David Spicer called the Colorado Springs police to report that he had attended military training and thus had had to leave his eight-month-old son with a child-minder for 16 days. The child-minder was holding the boy for ransom, he reported. After the exchange took place and Spicer was reunited with his son, authorities began a hunt for the child-minder, wanted for child ransom and possibly abuse, as the boy was found to be severely malnourished and had various injuries.
In the end, officers and medical investigators concluded that Spicer made up the whole story and abused his son himself while his wife was deployed. There was no baby-sitter and no ransom.

When about 150 corpses were picked up after the Naina Devi religious pilgrimage stampede in India's Himachal Pradesh, 19-year-old Mange Ram was among them. He awoke surrounded by 'a row of bodies' in a morgue and asked medical examiners for a drink of water. The Times of India reported that the number of still-living people who had been picked up among the dead is unclear. Area magistrate C.P. Verma said that the chaos and the number of bodies had made it 'not possible' to conduct medical examinations.

Minnesota police officers were summoned to the site of a vending machine break-in in the city of St. Paul. Most of the chocolate bars and potato chips were missing. They were soon found. Officers followed a trail of Cheetos and snack debris out of the building, around the side of the building, and into a nearby home. Inside they found three teenagers and a large number of vending-sized bags of Cheetos and other snacks. All three teenagers denied being involved in the theft.

Dean Sykes, 39, was an inmate at Canada's Fraser Pretrial Centre. When another inmate, serving an intermittent sentence, was due for a court visit, Sykes impersonated him. Accordingly, the judge ordered him to be released. When the inmate who had been scheduled for the court appearance asked guards when he would be released, authorities put out an alert.
After someone stopped at a store and joked about looking like the man pictured on the front page of the checkout-lane newspapers, the store clerk rang the police. Sykes was arrested while driving away.

Police in Boonton, New Jersey, report that someone hit a utility pole in the middle of the night and then drove off. Officers arriving on the scene found the door of a 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier and several papers bearing the name and address of a 20-year-old woman. A short while later, police in nearby Denville reported that a Chevy Cavalier missing a door had crashed into a stone wall about five kilometres down the same road. The woman faces charges including under-age drunken driving.

A group of girls at a cheerleading camp at the University of Texas entered a lift in a residence hall, heading to the ground floor. When the lift reached the lobby, its doors didn't open. Several members of the group rang the emergency services, and a repairman spent about half an hour extricating the girls from the lift. All 26 of them. One of them was taken to hospital for treatment after fainting.

Carlos Gutierrez of Tampa, Florida, was annoyed when a slot machine at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino apparently ate his money. He therefore rang the emergency services to report the incident and ask that something be done. After leaving the casino, the 47-year-old Gutierrez made a second 911 call to report the same thing. He was arrested for placing 'false 911 calls'.

Reginald Peterson, also from Florida, had a similar idea, related to staff at a Subway restaurant leaving the sauce off his spicy Italian sandwich. The 42-year-old Jacksonville man asked officers to make sure his sandwich was made correctly. He rang again a short while later, to complain that police officers hadn't arrived yet. When the police showed up, they tried to calm Peterson down and explain to him what the emergency telephone number is intended for. When these efforts were unsuccessful, he was arrested and charged with making frivolous 911 calls.

Police in the Netherlands report on an accident that occurred when a 59-year-old man was driving his car over railroad tracks in the town of Dorst. An eastbound train hit the car and dragged it 'several dozen metres'. The car was then hit by a train heading west on parallel tracks. The car driver was taken to hospital and was last reported as in critical but stable condition.

28 August 2008

The sheriff's department in Eaton County, Michigan, reports that two alleged shoplifters incapacitated a guard at an area clothing store with pepper spray and ran outside. A police officer summoned to the scene found one of the two women hiding behind a waste compactor. She refused to say where the other woman was, but the answer soon became clear, when authorities received a telephone call a short while later about someone being trapped in the waste compactor. Tyree Monique Tate, 26, was pulled from the machine and died in hospital.

Someone rang the De Queen, Arkansas, firehouse to report a utility pole on fire. When the firefighters, who do not man the fire station on weekends, stopped to collect their gear there, they noticed a large amount of smoke. The firehouse had fallen victim to a lightning strike. Once a dispatcher was able to convince the electricity company that the fire station really was on fire, the power was turned off and the fire put out. Fire Marshal Dennis Pruitt said: 'If it hadn't been for that [utility pole] call, there is no telling what would have happened to the building.' It turned out that the pole wasn't on fire after all.

Soon after Czech President Vaclav Klaus had a hip replacement operation, someone offered the hip for sale on the Internet. After the hospital that carried out the operation denied that the hip had disappeared, Premysl Donat approached Czech newspapers to offer them an exclusive interview with the seller of the hip. Police thus investigated Donat and prepared charges of fraud. Klaus has asked that criminal proceedings against Donat not be undertaken.

John Wilkinson, 24, reportedly robbed a Texas pharmacy, stealing prescription painkillers with the aid of a caulking gun covered in a towel. He then returned to his car and realised he had locked his keys within. The 24-year-old Wilkinson fled on foot. He stopped running when the police, carrying real guns, shot him in the shoulder. Thus given a real need for painkillers, he was taken to hospital before being sent to jail.

Jeff Beck and Benjamin Herson don't like bad grammar. These two 28-year-old men went on a tour of the US in spring, correcting various government and private signs. One of the stops on their tour was Grand Canyon National Park, where they used a marker pen to cover an erroneous apostrophe, applied correction fluid to put the apostrophe where it belongs, and added a comma. They have now pleaded guilty to defacing the 60-year-old hand-painted sign and have been banned from national parks for a year.

Mayra Rosales is accused of killing her two-year-old nephew by hitting him multiple times, crushing his skull. Prosecutors are unsure how she should be taken into custody, however, since Rosales weighs about 450 kilos, requires extensive medical care, and cannot fit through the door of her home. Nor do they know how she could be taken to court. As for her sentence if convicted of first-degree murder or at least injury of a child, Rosales may be eligible for house arrest.

Pennsylvania police officer Steven Klinger was off-duty when he decided to pull over a female motorist. He turned on his flashing lights and stopped her, then began asking her questions such as whether she was married or had a boyfriend. He gave her his telephone number and told her she was free to go. The 32-year-old officer has been sentenced to 30 days in jail for acting outside his authority and was given an additional three days in jail for drunken driving. He now is unemployed.

Police report that a 21-year-old New Jersey man rang emergency services to report that he had been robbed at a petrol station. He described the robber and asked for immediate assistance. When the police showed up, they found a clerk who matched the robber's description, and they started asking some questions. It turned out that the 'robbery' had consisted of the petrol station employee refusing to grant the man a refund for a box of condoms he'd wished to return.

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