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December 2011

24 December 2011

South Florida's Inrid Alemendarez discovered that the $500 worth of Christmas decorations in her yard had gone missing: no more Mickey Mouse on a horse or hugging penguins. But her loss turned out to be only temporary. She found the decorations herself - on a lawn less than a block away. She then contacted the police. The two women who took the decorations are being charged with grand theft.

Similarly clever was a Christmas-tree thief in Spenborough, West Yorkshire. Nursery boss John Dacre said that he rang the police after an overnight theft of trees and other Christmas items and 'we found this trail of pine needles. We walked together following this trail through the pouring rain and I joked that all we needed was a big magnifying glass and then we'd be real super-sleuths'. The trail led directly to a house, where the stolen trees were soon found. Also at the house was a cannabis farm. A 17-year-old has been arrested in connection with both matters.

Paul Barton works with blind elephants in Thailand. For his 50th birthday, he decided to play Beethoven for them, live, at their mountain reserve. Barton said: 'I had to drag the piano up a mountain. I have a really bad back, but I wanted to make the effort so I could feel like I had undergone a personal challenge.'
The short concert, which also served as a fund-raising activity, left the elephants making sounds that are often linked to stress.

A 45-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma, woman decided that a local Walmart would be a convenient place to handle all of her chores. That included buying various cleaning and medical supplies, and using them. When workers at the store noticed her dumping various items into a large bottle she was carrying through the aisles, they summoned the police. One officer suffered slight burns from the mixture while he was removing both it and the woman from the Walmart. She has a police record for methamphetamine production, but none of her previous arrests involved trying to make it in public.
Officer David Shelby said that the woman admitted that she was 'in the process of trying to manufacture methamphetamine; however, she said that she was not very good at it'.

Patrick J. Sullivan, Jr, was named 'Sheriff of the Year' for 2001 by the National Sheriffs' Association, shortly before his retirement, and more recently served on state and local committees tasked with addressing the state's surge in methamphetamine-related crime. In the wake of several reports linking him to the sale and distribution of methamphetamine, a sting operation was arranged. He allegedly agreed to provide a male informant with drugs in exchange for sex. While awaiting trial, he is being held in the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility.

Thanks, Aimee, for alerting me to the story of Laurie Ann Martinez, a prison psychologist in California who wanted to move to a safer neighbourhood but needed to convince her husband that such a move was necessary. She faked her own rape.
Martinez, 36, tried to be thorough. This included scraping sandpaper across her knuckles, splitting her lip open with a pin, having a friend punch her in the face with boxing gloves, and wetting herself in order to give the appearance that she had been knocked out after a struggle. So how did police find out that her story wasn't legitimate? After hundreds of hours of work on the case, detectives got their break when one of Martinez's prison co-workers reported that Martinez had spoken about faking a crime.
She can now move pretty much wherever she pleases, as she and her husband have divorced.

In another story about fakery, Scott Bennett is a 45-year-old Pennsylvania man who submitted an obituary for his still-living mother to a local newspaper. He did this in order to have an alibi for absence from work. After concerned relatives informed his mother about her death notice, she showed up at the newspaper office in person. It was not long after this that police arrested her son on charges of disorderly conduct.

John Sulzbach dropped his marijuana cigarette. Apparently, he didn't think any more about it so didn't retrieve it from where it had fallen - his son's packed lunch. Employees at the 18-month-old boy's day-care centre found the joint and called the cops.
Investigators found a small amount of marijuana at the 33-year-old Sulzbach's home, and he faces charges of drug possession and risking injury to a child.

In other marijuana news, Devonte Davon Jeter's attorney pointed out in a preliminary hearing at a Pennsylvania court that the bag of marijuana found at the 19-year-old Jeter's feet during a traffic stop could have belonged to any of the four men in the car. The attorney pointed out that Jeter had told the police that he'd planned to purchase the drug but hadn't yet paid for it.
This argument was short-lived: an officer recalled Jeter asking 'Can I have my weed back?' when he'd been released from custody. The prosecutor told the judge: 'I don't know what else "Can I have my weed back?" can mean, other than it's his.' The district judge agreed and ordered that Jeter stand trial for possession of marijuana.

Security screeners at the Atlanta airport stopped a 43-year-old man for having a gun in his carry-on bag (this in itself is not unusual - so far this year, the TSA have found more than 1,100 firearms in airport security checks). According to police, the man explained that he often travels to Florida and 'keeps the weapon on him for protection, [...] in an attempt to scare people off'. The TSA agents called in the experts, the local police, to handle the matter. One of these experts was trying to remove the ammunition from the gun, which he had pointed at a screening table, when he managed to fire it accidentally. A pellet fragment grazed the left side of the officer's face.

Clifton Vial's truck crashed into a snowdrift near Nome, Alaska, where it remained as he awaited rescue. Vial, 52, later said: 'I shouldn't have been out there by myself unprepared for what I knew was possible.' He was prepared enough, however, as he could use the truck's heater to counter temperatures of -28 °C at night and had a few cans of frozen Coors Light. He said: 'I cut the lids off and dug it out with a knife.' Vial, who lost seven kilos in three days, was eventually rescued after his boss noticed that he hadn't arrived for work on time.

Jesse Dimmick was on the run from a charge of murder when he broke into a Topeka, Kansas, home and told the newlyweds there to hide him. They tried to calm him down - feeding him and watching a film with him - then sneaked outside and contacted the authorities while he was sleeping afterward. Dimmick was shot by a police officer who attempted to take him in. He is suing the cop and the city for $75,000, the same amount the newlyweds want from him in court. In addition, he is suing the newlyweds - he explains that they were legally bound to honour an oral agreement to hide him.

According to descriptions in UPI reports, Illinois teenagers Jonathan Miller and Myshawn Bonds met with people who were selling expensive items on the Craigslist Web site and then ran off without paying. Soon after this, they posted a 'For sale' advert on the same site for at least one of the items, a watch.
The original seller noticed the advert - it may have helped that Miller and Bonds reused the photograph from the victim's original listing - and arranged to buy the watch. He showed up with the police, who arrested the partners in crime for theft.

In 2005, Donald Maier threatened two judges in Wood County, Wisconsin. He was sentenced to two years in prison for this. He recently decided that it would be a good idea to send threatening letters to the jurors who had found him guilty. Therefore, Maier, 49, now faces 10 counts of stalking.

Also in Wisconsin, police dispatchers listened to two men in their late 20s as they discussed which DVDs and computer games they had stolen from a Target store and where they could sell them. This was thanks to one of the men 'pocket-dialling' the emergency number 911. Once the two men had settled on a specific video store, the cops headed there. Making things even easier for police is that the men even described their vehicle within the dispatchers' telephonic earshot.

A 38-year-old assistant nurse in Japan has been sentenced to three years in prison for a stress-relief technique she used at a Kyoto hospital: tearing out the nails from patients' big toes. The nurse, Akemi Sato, attacked at least three patients' toenails in this way in August.
The prosecution would have preferred a six-year prison term, in view of the fact that she might repeat the offence. In 2006, Sato had been sentenced to 44 months in prison for removing six patients' toenails, at a different hospital in Kyoto.

Oregon state trooper Clay Core said that he was chasing a car at more than 160 kilometres per hour when bags of marijuana began 'pelting my car' on the interstate highway. The ripped-open bags each contained about half a kilo of dope. When the chase finally ended, the two Washington men in the pot-jettisoning vehicle were arrested. The charges against them include tampering with evidence.
Officers worked through the night to make sure they had collected all of the marijuana.

'Shop with a Cop Night' was an occasion on which 25 sheriff's officers took 75 underprivileged children to the Gretna, Nebraska, Walmart. It also was the night when a man ran out of the same Walmart with a DVD player he'd not paid for. Several officers noticed the man and caught him hiding in a car. The thief, on his sixth visit to jail for shoplifting and other charges, said: 'I just feel real stupid. When you are on that stuff, your mind, you're not thinking about no police or nothing. Your mind is just thinking about getting some more drugs.'

California's George Herrera, 18, was out long past his curfew. He didn't want his family to find out. They have, and so have we, because he tried to climb in through the chimney and didn't factor in the two 45-degree bends near the bottom. About 90 minutes after he became stuck, the family rang emergency services, who quickly saw the problem in the form of Herrera's feet dangling into the fireplace. Rescuers tied ropes to his wrists and pulled him out with the aid of a firemen's ladder truck.

Joseph Gaeta took part in a New Jersey police academy lecture series on driving while intoxicated. Gaeta, a police officer himself, drank controlled amounts of alcohol while taking sobriety tests, so that other officers could witness the changes in his reaction times, balance, and motor control. The 31-year-old Gaeta had another officer drive him home after the class. A few hours later, while off duty, he crashed an all-terrain vehicle and failed sobriety tests. Gaeta, who was hospitalised with significant facial injuries, is charged with drunken driving.

Intoxicated police offers are often good Clippings fodder. Takahiro Otomo is no exception. This sergeant with Japan's Asahikawa Higashi Police Station rang the bell of a septuagenarian's home at about 1am and asked 'Who are you?' when the resident answered the door. Otomo then entered the home, apparently mistaking it for his own. The elderly man rang the police, who arrested the 32-year-old cop as he sat on the sofa. He has been charged with trespassing.
As for his side of the story, Otomo says: 'Frankly speaking, I don't know whether it's true or not.'

As part of his probation, Alaska's Bryant K. Brown is required to ring the state's local probation office in Anchorage each day to see whether he must take a urine test at the office later in the day. On 22 November, he was told 'yes'. On 22 November, someone called in a bomb threat to the probation office. The office was evacuated, and no bomb was found. On 23 November, Bryant was again told 'yes', so a second bomb threat was phoned in. He awaits trial on two counts of making terroristic threats.

Utah's Eldon Alexander, 36, and Korin Vanhouten, 47, stole items worth about $25 from a WinCo Foods store. After statements were taken, they were released and headed for the car park. They soon discovered that someone had stolen a stereo amplifier, a drum machine, and other items from their vehicle. The two filed a crime report with the officer who'd dealt with them.

A 62-year-old woman was walking her dog in Santa Cruz, California, when she encountered a mugger. The man told her that he would kick her dog if she didn't give him everything she had. She handed him a bag, and he ran off. Although he has not yet been apprehended, the woman isn't desperate for the return of her belongings - her dog's faeces.

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© 2011 Anna Shefl