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December 2008


11 December 2008

Polish builder Jaroslaw Kryzwonos found that someone had stolen his digger. He then received a telephone call from a man claiming to be Father Christmas, who told him that he would have to buy the equivalent of 300 euros' worth of toys for the orphanage in Lublin if he wanted to see the machine again. After dropping off the toys, Kryzwonos found the digger in the location from which it had been stolen.

Reuters reports that an eight-year-old boy in Zwickau, Germany, was asked to leave the classroom for disrupting lessons. On his way out, he pocketed his 40-year-old teacher's car keys; then he headed for the car park. A police spokesman later said: 'The little fellow drove for about 25 metres before crashing into a Volvo' and causing about 8,000 euros' worth of damage. The boy explained that he'd wanted to drive home to complain to his mother about having been sent out of class.

According to AP reports, Indiana state trooper Eric Perkins pulled a driver over for a traffic violation and consented when that driver's passenger, Honesty Knight, asked for permission to smoke. While the trooper was talking to the driver, the 32-year-old Knight lit up. Perkins then asked to examine the cigarette, which contained rather more marijuana than tobacco. Knight was the one taken to jail.

Responding to a security alarm, officers visited a bank in New Jersey's Montgomery Township. Looking through the window, they could see at least one person inside, though the blinds were drawn and details thus were unclear. The police isolated the area and evacuated three neighbouring blocks of flats, then used bullhorns and telephone calls to try to establish a dialogue with the intruder(s). Receiving no response, they sent in a SWAT team, who quickly disarmed the full-sized cardboard figure by the window. It was unclear what had set off the alarm.

Grace Romero of the New Mexico State Police spotted a pickup truck swerving back and forth over the full width of a highway. Suspecting that the driver was intoxicated, she ordered him to stop. He decided to drive through a ditch and a barbed-wire fence first. At this point, the 21-year-old driver attempted to park but threw the vehicle into reverse instead. When he opened the driver's door to get out, he fell and the left front tyre ran over both of his legs. He was treated for minor injuries and has been charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, fleeing a police officer, careless driving, and two outstanding traffic offences.

Manabu Mizuta has been arrested for releasing hundreds of beetle larvae on a Japanese bullet train. He explained when immediately caught: 'I wanted to see women get scared and shake their legs.' A police spokesman explained that the 35-year-old Mizuta 'would go close to women on the train, any woman, and pour out the larvae from containers' and that the train operator had reported 18 incidents of larve released in the month prior to Mizuta's arrest. When caught, Mizuta had 10 containers of the maggots in his backpack, with a total population of about 3,600 larvae.

Police in Leavenworth, Kansas, report that a 49-year-old man who wanted easy money decided to liberate a cash machine from its bank, using a stolen skid loader. In order to break the ATM open, he used the skid loader to drop it from the top of a 15-metre embankment. Police Chief Patrick Kitchens reported that following the cash machine down were the skid loader and the thief. He was found trapped inside the vehicle and taken to hospital.

A North Platte, Nebraska, woman rang the police from her bathroom after locking her husband out. She explained that the husband, Donald Jacobs Jr., had been angry that she had cooked macaroni for his dinner. Fuelled by alcohol, he had hit her with the cooking pot, leaving macaroni all over the house. He faces a domestic assault charge.

In Cape Coral, Florida, officers saw a pickup truck drive onto a road's centre reservation and pulled over the driver. The driver was a nine-year-old boy. His passenger, age 27, explained in a somewhat slurred fashion that he was teaching his son to drive. This apparently involved driving to pick up more Budweiser. The man has been charged with cruelty toward a child and allowing an unlicensed minor to drive.

Meanwhile, in Reno, Nevada, an ambulance crew spotted a 40-year-old woman who appeared to be driving while intoxicated. She also had a fuel nozzle and about two metres of hose attached to her fuel tank. Failing to get her attention, the ambulance crew set up a traffic stop on the highway and contacted state troopers. They arrested her and began a search for the petrol station that is missing a nozzle.

In Kuznetsk, about 700 kilometres south-east of Moscow, an Orthodox priest has been accompanying traffic police on their patrols, according to Noviye Izvestia. In addition to pouring holy water on dangerous junctions, the priest gives spiritual advice to drivers who are pulled over for minor traffic offences. Sergei Logov, in charge of the city's traffic police, said: 'The effect has exceeded all of our expectations' - the accident rate has been reduced by one third since the programme began.

New York City bus driver Edwin Thomas allowed a man to ride his bus without a valid MetroCard. When the man demanded a free transfer card as well, Thomas reminded him that he hadn't paid in the first place. The passenger responded by stabbing the 46-year-old Thomas in the torso and then jumping off the bus. Thomas, who died in hospital, had been an armoured-truck driver, but he'd changed career because of safety concerns.

Two California men went shopping at Toys R Us as sales began on the day after Thanksgiving. According to witnesses, the women accompanying Alejandro Moreno and Juan Meza got into an argument. Meza, 28, tried to resolve the dispute by pulling out a handgun. The 39-year-old Moreno responded in kind. He chased Meza down an aisle, firing all the way. The men shot at each other throughout the store as customers scrambled to get out of the way. Both men were found outside the store, with fatal injuries matching each other's guns.

An eight-year-old Arizona boy shot father Vincent Romano and a lodger to death in early November and explained that he had reached his limit. That is, he had been tallying the number of spankings he had received, and the figure was not to go over 1,000. Police Chief Roy Melnick said that he was consoling the boy's grandmother after the shooting when she burst out: 'They were too hard on [him]. I knew he did it. He spent the night in my bed cuddling up to me. [...] If an eight-year-old boy is capable of doing this, it's [him].' Prosecutors have entered a plea deal in the case.

Ravinder Sran of Abbotsford, British Columbia, admitted to investigators that he had committed car insurance fraud. After his confession, he changed his mind and grabbed the recorder holding his confession. Insurance Corp. of B.C. staff saw him a few blocks away smashing the device into pieces on the pavement. The digital recording remained intact, and a court has sentenced him to an additional six months of probation and 15 hours of community service for his initial lying about the fraud and for his 'dash-and-smash'.

Wisconsin radio station WMAD-FM ran a contest in which the contestant spending the most time living in a truck would win a new $30,000 vehicle, with the runner-up receiving nothing. After Tommy Kempfer, 26, and Lisa Thompson, 40, had each been in a truck for 55 days, the station decided to offer the women $10,000 each toward the purchase of a new car. Within 15 minutes, both agreed to the offer. Kempfer said: 'Both of us were ready to go home, but we didn't want to leave with nothing after you put in that much time.'

Scott Napper and Leafil Alforque met on the Internet in 2005, and Alforque, from the Philippines, recently visited Napper in Oregon on a fiancíe visa. He took her to 'Proposal Rock' to give her the engagement ring he was carrying, and she suggested that climbing the rock would be good. He agreed. However, he said, a tall wave came toward them when they were three metres from the rock. He turned into it to avoid being pulled under. When he turned back, the petite Alforque was about 10 metres away reaching out to him. He took off his jacket to go after her more easily but she was out of sight and his mobile telephone was waterlogged. A witness rang emergency services, but it was too late.

Manchester coroner Nigel Meadows reports that 63-year-old Ian Bothwell, who suffered from alcoholism-induced dementia, died of a picked nose. Meadows said in inquest proceedings: 'There is no explanation for this death other than he died from a nose-bleed, consistent with picking his nose. I do not think for a moment he knew what he was doing was going to cause his death.' Meadows recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

China Daily has reported that a woman from Zhuhai in Guangdong province, had an over-enthusiastic boyfriend - so much so that he left her deaf in one ear. His kiss 'reduced pressure in the mouth, pulled the eardrum out, and caused the breakdown of the ear', according to a doctor surnamed Li. He reported that her hearing should return within a couple of months.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has charged senior border patrol official Lorraine Henderson with employing illegal immigrants to clean her Massachusetts home. Henderson also offered advice on how not to get caught - for example, telling a Brazilian woman not to 'leave the country [...] 'cause once you leave, you will never be back'.

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reported: 'Unfortunately, yes, I did hang up on president-elect Obama twice.' When she received his telephone calls, she was worried that she was dealing with a prank caller. The next call was from the man Obama has chosen to be White House Chief of Staff, and she hung up on him as well. Finally, a fellow member of Congress was asked to ring her; he informed her of her mistake. Obama had been trying to congratulate her on her re-election, while Ros-Lehtinen had been trying to avoid being tricked by radio personalities in Quebec.

The Ontario Liquor Control Board are recalling an Italian wine. Quality assurance vice-president George Soleas was quick to point out that the bottles posed no risk to the public. He said that 'the chemical testing we have done, that was quite extensive, shows it is just tap water'. The problem occurred at the bottling plant where bottles are flushed out with water.
Soleas said the public recall was done 'because we stand behind the quality of our products 100 per cent [...] and I didn't want to have people surprised on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve opening this product and finding water instead of wine.'

Gypsy Lawson, 29, passed through U.S. Customs in Los Angeles with a monkey under her blouse. Her cover for the bulge created by the sedated animal, which she'd brought back from Thailand, was that she was pregnant. She and her mother, who was with her on the trip, were arrested after Lawson boasted to a clothing store clerk about getting away with the smuggling. The monkey is now at a primate rescue facility.

Kathleen Cherry was summoned to work at the Carson City, Nevada, sheriff's department to collect samples for a drink-driving suspect's blood alcohol test. When a deputy told Cherry that he smelled alcohol on her breath, she replied that she'd had one margarita before getting in the car. She failed field sobriety tests and is being charged with misdemeanour drunken driving. She declined to comment on the case.

21 December 2008

At the party celebrating his retirement from a Japanese transportation firm, a 60-year-old man was thrown into the air by at least three of the co-workers present. However, no-one caught him on the way down, and the resulting injuries left him unable to use his limbs and ultimately led to his respiratory failure and death. His 59-year-old wife accuses the workers of gross negligence resulting in death and says: 'No matter what I say, he won't come back, but I want to find out why this happened.' A representative of the company's headquarters said that, while he expressed his condolences, 'the farewell party was held voluntarily and as a company we have no particular comment'.

According to AP reports, a man recently demanded money from a McDonald's cashier in San Antonio, Texas. Not realising the man was trying to rob the fast-food outlet, the cashier responded by laughing and telling him to simply get a job. At this point, the suspect produced a box cutter and demanded the cashier's wallet, but it had no money inside. The would-be robber was caught by police responding to the robbery alert, and officers expect him to be charged with aggravated robbery.

Rob Wotton experienced unexpected difficulties when trying to land his WWII-era Tiger Moth safely. Of the hazard he had to face in a field southwest of London, he said 'it is the first cow I have ever hit in 22 years' flying'.
Another approach is to avoid the issue, as was done recently by a Flybe flight from Cardiff to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. The pilot, who has 30 years of commercial aviation experience, had recently transferred from work with Bombardier Q300 aircraft to Bombardier Q400s but not yet completed the training mandated for landing the latter aeroplane type in fog. As a result, the pilot announced minutes before the scheduled landing: 'I am not qualified to land the plane' and turned back to Cardiff. A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said: 'I guess he thought when he initially took off that conditions would be suitable for him to land.'

In the middle of the night, Robert Thompson and Taurus Morris entered a home in Plant City, Florida. While Morris brandished a pistol, Thompson held a knife to the resident's throat and demanded the man's metal egg beater. He surrendered the kitchen implement, and the two robbers left. They were caught outside the home and have been charged with armed burglary. Thompson, who had the egg beater in his pocket when he was arrested, is also being charged with aggravated assault.

At India's Calcutta Zoo, 30-year-old Mithu Mondal and her six-year-old daughter were injured when chimpanzee Babu threw stones at them. The zoo's director explained that visitors regularly throw stones at Babu to try to attract his attention, with a zoo official saying: 'Unless people throw stones, there is no way the chimpanzees can have stones in their enclosures.'
Despite repeated warnings that visitors should not throw stones, the animals have had to take matters into their own hands. For example, last year, Babu and his female cage-mate escaped by breaking the lock.

Karen Meleta, speaking for a Greenwich, New Jersey, ShopRite store, said: 'We reserve the right not to print anything on the cake that we deem to be inappropriate. We considered this inappropriate.' In response, Deborah Campbell said that she'd simply asked the bakery department to put the name of her three-year-old son, Adolf Hitler Campbell, on a birthday cake.
In the end, the Campbells' cake was decorated by a Walmart in Pennsylvania, after which Walmart spokesmen Greg Rossiter said: 'It's clear that in serving this customer, some people were offended. As a result, we're going to review our policies.'
The boy's father says no offence should be taken, as he'd simply liked the name and 'no one else in the world would have that name'. According to Meleta, the last two years have seen the shop deny several requests for swastikas and the like from the family, whose other two children are JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell (soon to be two years old) and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell (almost one year old).

Hostage negotiator and kidnapping expert Felix Batista, 55, travelled to Mexico from the US on 6 December to lead seminars on how to avoid being kidnapped, as part of a plan to reassure Mexican police and businessmen that they can safely take a stand against corruption. Batista has not yet returned - he was seized by armed men as he left a restaurant in the city of Saltillo. The president of the security company where Batista works as a consultant says authorities and colleagues are working to secure his release.

Meanwhile, in the US, Lisa Valentine, a 40-year-old insurance underwriter in Georgia, accompanied her 19-year-old nephew to the Douglasville municipal court for a traffic citation hearing. Because she was wearing a headscarf, she was told at the metal detector that she wouldn't be allowed in the courtroom. She responded that she had been in courtrooms before without removing her hijab, then turned to leave and uttered an expletive. A bailiff therefore handcuffed her and brought her before Judge Keith Rollins, who gave her a 10-day jail sentence for contempt of court. When the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked for an investigation, she was released for an unspecified reason. Rollins later said that commenting on the case 'would not be appropriate'.

In the play Mary Stuart at Vienna's Burgtheater, actor Daniel Hoevels slit his neck with a knife. He was supposed to get up and bow after his character thus committed suicide. When he didn't, actors and audience alike realised that the blood that had spurted from his neck was real, and he was taken to hospital. The police later noted that the knife, purchased from a local store, still bore its price tag; they are investigating whether someone was in a rush and forgot to blunt it or deliberately sabotaged the performance.
Hoevels appeared in the play again the next night, this time with a bandage around his neck. The Austrian Times quotes a doctor as saying: 'If Hoevels had hit an artery or cut only slightly deeper, he would have died on stage.'

Police officers in Beaumont, Texas, responded to a burglary alarm at a dollar store and quickly found the culprit. A four-year-old boy had apparently unlocked the door of his home and wandered off while other members of his family thought he was sleeping with someone else in the home. He'd crossed a seven-lane highway to pay an after-hours visit to the dollar store. Trying the front doors, he had found one of them unlocked and gone inside, closing it after himself. When the police arrived, the boy began showing them his toys, according to Officer Crystal Holmes. The boy and his younger brother now are staying with extended relatives while the incident is under review.

Devin Perry of Gainesville, Florida, has been arrested for offences related to various drugs, so he may have had reason to suspect that he'd failed a drug test that was part of his parole conditions. Either way, he figured it would be a good idea to shoot out a window of the probation office and make off with the refrigerator full of urine samples. Having apparently bled onto a bush below the window on his way out, he set it on fire.
Checking on recent submitters of urine samples, detectives paid Perry a visit. At Perry's home they found bloody shards of the window glass. He has been charged with arson, destroying evidence, burglary, and larceny. The urine has not yet been found.

In court, lawyer Damon Rossi asked detention officers whether he might give his shackled client a piece of candy. Not liking the answer 'No', he fed the candy to his client anyway, reportedly asking the officers: 'What are you going to do, arrest me?' The 38-year-old Rossi was arrested at his home the next day.
Yavapai County, Arizona, sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said later of the candy: 'We don't know what's in it' and also that prisoners 'get fed three squares a day and we don't feed them in court'.

William A. Perko entered Michigan's G&S Brokers pawn shop and sold some gold for $320. According to the Detroit News, the shop's jeweller, James Zelinske, recognised the gold because he had melted it himself and just sent it off to another Michigan business. As a result of the incident, the 43-year-old Perko has been arrested for stealing outgoing mail from the Mount Clemens post office, where he works as a mail processor.


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