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July 2009

6 July 2009

The police and fire services in Oelde, Germany, warned residents to remain in their homes while a radiation detector and experts were brought to a site they had cordoned off. When two six-year-old boys tried to enter the relevant section of town to continue 'play[ing] nuclear power station' after dinner, they weren't allowed back in. The boys had printed out a radiation warning sign from the Internet and stuck it to the side of a computer case, which had then caught the attention of a passer-by, reports Spiegel.

Michigan's Grand Rapids Press reports that a man entered a Wentwood petrol station to perform a hold-up. While demanding and receiving cash, he held his gun under a piece of paper - perhaps to obscure the fact that the weapon was a homemade fake - but he dropped the paper when the clerk made a grab for the gun. Police officers and employees at the petrol station soon worked out that the piece of paper contained the 42-year-old robber's name and address. He was arrested a short while later.

According to AP reports, police in Puerto Rico have arrested a man for stealing women's underwear in the rural town of Orocovis. Over several months, he stole 88 pieces of underwear from a neighbour's clothesline. He is reported to have returned all 1500 euros' worth of underwear to the woman, who had simply kept buying replacements.

A man suspected of stealing copper wire from a California warehouse decided that, rather than surrender to the police, he would hide in a 45-centimetre-wide storm drain under a San Fernando Valley motorway. Police Chief Michael Moore said that, in response, 'we applied tear gas on more than one occasion [but] stopped because we thought he'd suffocate to death'. The man also withstood application of a plunger-like device fashioned from a heavy climbing rope, a large plywood disk, and several canvas bags; he used a knife to cut through the rope. Also, a police dog failed to persuade him to return from 10 metres below the ground.
Finally, after 12 hours, the man rang his girlfriend, who contacted the news media. He was soon speaking to television reporter Leo Stallworth, to whom he explained that he wouldn't give up, since 'I hate leaving my freedom'. When Stallworth pointed out 'You're in a storm drain; is there any freedom in there?', he reconsidered and was finally arrested.

According to the Detroit News, four women decided to leave an International House of Pancakes without paying. A waitress chased them and tried to take down their Mercury Cougar's number plate details. In her haste to leave the scene, the driver, 19-year-old Ashanti Barber, lost control of the car, which ploughed through the wall of the restaurant. The trouble she faces includes charges for driving without a valid licence. Her father, John, reported that she had been carrying more than $200 in cash but let her friends, who are not being charged, pressure her into fleeing the restaurant.

When Thomas Parkin's mother died, in 2003, he supplied incorrect details for her death certificate, so that he could continue collecting her Social Security and housing benefits. To avoid suspicion, the 49-year-old New York man made sure that his mother, Irene Prusik, renewed her driving licence this year. He wore a blonde wig, sunglasses, and dress in order to complete this task. The fake Prusik also filed for bankruptcy.
What drew the suspicion of the police, however, was the harrassing lawsuits filed by Parkin and supposedly Prusik. In connection with these, Parkin appeared both as himself and in the above-mentioned disguise. When officers put things together, Parkin explained: 'I held my mother when she was dying and breathed in her last breath, so I am my mother' - but he was still arrested.

Pilots on an Air India flight from Bombay to Frankfurt activated fire extinguishers in response to an automated warning about a fire in the cargo hold, and they returned to their airport of origin. Engineers later reported that the alarms had been triggered by particles escaping from a bag containing two to three kilos of curry powder. After a 12-hour delay, the plane took off again, without the curry powder.

A 40-year-old woman in Tel Aviv, Israel, reportedly decided to do her mother a favour and replace her decades-old mattress as a surprise. Upon learning that the old mattress contained the equivalent of roughly a million euros, she began hunting for the mattress at landfill sites. Yitzhak Borba, manager of the relevant dump, said that his staff were helping the woman, who appeared 'totally desperate' and that they were keeping treasure-hunters away. The mattress has not been found.

Prosecutors in Arlington, Washington, have charged baseball coach George Spady with using some of his players to assist in a break-in and burglary of a vacant shop. According to The Daily Herald, one of the players told his stepfather, and thus the 31-year-old coach was caught. The players - all primary-school boys on the Spady's Little League team - are not expected to be charged.

From her car, an Edwardsville, Illinois, woman rang the police to report that a man had pulled up alongside her to ask for directions, then tried to rob her at gunpoint. The dispatcher told her how to get to the nearby sheriff's department to file a report. The man followed her until she was near enough that officers saw him. Carleous Clay, Jr, 26, was arrested on charges of both attempted armed robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Reuters reports on what happened when James Kiernan, riding a bus in Miami, read aloud a text message he received reporting Michael Jackson's death. The bus driver responded that 'Michael Jackson should have been in jail long ago', whereupon Kiernan shared his view that 'the world just lost a great musical talent'. Another passenger, Henry Wideman, started cursing at Kiernan, who responded in kind. Then Wideman produced a knife and chased Kiernan, 60, down the aisle of the bus. The incident ended with the driver pulling over and waiting for sheriff's deputies to arrive and arrest the 54-year-old Wideman.

Reuters also tells us of a Polish couple in Hanover, Germany, who began arguing directly after their civil wedding ceremony. The 50-year-old man tried to cut his new wife's hair with a kitchen knife, and the 34-year-old woman responded by calling the police, whose restraining order the man gladly accepted. The couple were able to agree that an immediate annulment would be a good idea, and the man spent his wedding night in a shelter for the homeless.

Two Pennsylvania men visited a petrol station not to buy petrol but to obtain money from the clerk at knife-point. They should have bought petrol as well - state troopers caught 29-year-old Lonnie Meckwood and 51-year-old Phillip Weeks, both of New York, on foot shortly after their getaway car ran out of fuel.

In Nepal, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority sent a team to Tribhuvan airport to investigate travellers' reports of bribe-taking on the part of staff. Finding the reports to be true, the CIAA responded by instructing the ministry of civil aviation to require workers at the airport to wear uniforms without pockets. They 'believe this will help curb the irregularities', according to CIAA spokesman Ishwori Prasad Paudyal.

Five French tourists were in for a surprise when they sat down in an airport van at New York's JFK airport. Because the van service was unlicensed, police approached to investigate. The van left the airport in haste, and a squad car took off in pursuit, with lights flashing and siren blaring. As driver Khaalif Preacher and service co-operator Ian L. McFarlane sped through traffic signals and wove through residential streets, their passengers begged to be let out. The cops eventually put an end to the chase, and the two van men were charged with unlawful imprisonment, assault, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest.

Cameron B. Jefferson made an unusual deposit at a Tallahassee bank. Along with $200, he gave Wachovia bank a small bag containing marijuana and cocaine. An officer arrested the 38-year-old Jefferson and found evidence in his vehicle that he might not have been thinking clearly at the time of his deposit.

The Department of Public Safety in Kalamazoo, Michigan, reported that a bleeding 27-year-old man had walked into their office and drunkenly explained that he had been injured while trying to stop a burglary. He said that he'd followed the burglar into the building and entered a scuffle with him before the miscreant fled. Officers investigating the scene found that their informant's blood, and only his, was on drawer pulls and cabinets all over the building. They concluded that the 'witness' himself had committed the crime. He was arrested and given numerous stitches.

A 14-year-old Dutch boy was mugged last September in Groningen and relieved of 165 euros and his mobile phone. In March of this year, he visited the Google Streetview Web site and discovered a street-level photo that apparently was taken only moments before he was attacked, featuring him and his two attackers. He contacted the local police, who, in turn, contacted Google's US headquarters for the original version of the picture (without the customary blurring of faces). A police detective recognised one of the two men, and the other was his twin brother. The men have admitted to being in the image but denied the charges.

When Russia's Anfisa Sizhuk and Anzhelika Shemyakina were released from service as office managers with ceiling installation company Deco-Line in Vladivostok, they complained to labour authorities that the company owed them for unused holiday time. Deco-Line director Konstantin Lyalikov claims to have decided to pay them the roughly 830 euros just to end the labour dispute. The company delivered the money in 33 sacks of five-kopek coins, about 20 kilos of currency. Lyalikov later said: 'The girls wanted to get a lot of money, and they got it. What difference does it make what sort of units it came in?' and added that the women had been fired for spending too much time browsing the Internet for personal purposes.

Jonathan Jermain Gardner, a 34-year-old black man, was set to be released from a South Carolina jail about a week ago. However, Richard Daniel Wines, 18 years old and white, was released instead, after spending less than a day at the facility. He had simply stood up when Gardner's name was called.
Gardner, who said he had been sleeping when his name was called, said: 'They're supposed to ask you for your Social Security number and whatever. As far as I've been told, they didn't do any of that. And they gave him all of my valuables.' The Myrtle Beach police report that they are handling the matter internally.

Firemen in Waipahu, Hawaii, had just responded to reports of a traffic accident when they were called to put out a fire - at their own station. Fire Captain Terry Seelig explained that they had left food cooking while responding to the earlier call. Seelig described the firefighters as 'very chagrined about it'.

20 July 2009

Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, report that 19-year-old Sando Dshaw Hamilton recently was found wandering around Wilderness Park in the nude. He explained to the police that a man with a gun had tried to rob him and, since Hamilton had no money, taken his clothes. He later admitted, however, that the police had caught him while he was looking for his clothing, which he'd removed earlier in the day because of the heat. He was arrested for indecent exposure and making a false statement to the police.

A 54-year-old California woman bought a phial of liquid silicone online for about $10 and injected it into her lips and a cheek. She later said: 'I thought I was going to be happy with the results, then the next day, my face became very inflamed, very red, swollen' and she sought medical advice. Plastic surgeon Dr Steven Williams reported that she has now undergone corrective surgery in which 'you actually have to go in surgically and cut it out - we don't know what this material is and it is actively causing serious problems for her'. She may require several more surgeries.

According to Spiegel Online, police in Ludwigshafen, Germany, report that a 20-year-old man had spent a night drinking with friends and then thought it would be an amusing idea to squeeze into a railway station's suitcase locker. The problem was that the locker door wouldn't open again, and he soon found it hard to breathe. Two of his companions went to the police, who broke open the locker.

In another story from Germany, public broadcaster ZDF was filming 15 former East German political prisoners for a 'docu-play' and had a prop company deliver various items for the production, including 15 fake Stasi files. The files were very realistic, as one of the actors discovered - his own genuine Stasi file was on the set. The Birthler agency, who look after the Stasi archives, said they have begun a probe to determine how the files were obtained without authorisation.

Dentist Wesley Meyers has been fined $17,000 by the State of Florida for negligently dropping an 'implant screwdriver tool' down the throat of a 90-year-old patient in 2006 and then, in 2007, a 'mini-wrench'. The patient underwent several procedures aimed at recovering the tools, but these were unsuccessful.

Brazilian labour minister Carlos Lupi faced a public relations problem when unemployed people reported to the news media that, in order to check the status of their benefits, they were being required to enter passwords such as 'bum' and 'shameless'. Lupi has blamed the Web site security company involved and opined that the 'pranks' might have been related to the company's contract not having been renewed.

Police in Michigan report that 50-year-old Mark White flagged down a car shortly after an attempted bank robbery about three blocks away. The driver of the car, undercover auto-theft detective Scott Jackson, slowed and White got into the car without permission. When Jackson identified himself as a police officer, White decided he'd chosen the wrong car and tried to escape. It didn't work, and White soon found himself back in jail, where he had been for robbery until three weeks earlier.

Illinois teenager Travis Peterson decided to sleep in his car rather than drive home drunk after a concert. He was awakened by a state trooper, who ordered him to leave the car park because it was being cleared of vehicles. Peterson protested that he was drunk and sleeping it off, but the trooper told him to leave anyway. Once he drove out of the car park, he was arrested for drunken driving. He was found guilty and ordered to spend 60 days in jail.
Commending his attempts to be a responsible driver, an appeals court has now ruled that the trial court was wrong in not admitting Peterson's argument that police had entrapped him.

A Vermont State Police officer said that he noticed a glass sitting on the bonnet of a car that had pulled up next to him at a junction. The trooper stopped the car to tell driver John Campbell about it. It soon became clear that the beverage in the glass was beer, and the 59-year-old Campbell now faces charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. He probably will not be claiming entrapment.

Jason Johnson says that, after a pool party, he took several pairs of knickers from a female friend's nearby home with the plan of throwing them into a tree the next day to see her reaction. His friend soon came driving down the highway to pick him up, or so he thought. After he waved down the car, he discovered that it was that of a cop. Said cop couldn't help but notice the pair of knickers hanging from the 31-year-old Johnson's unzipped trousers. It soon became obvious that he had stuffed about 40 pairs down there.
The owner of the underwear decided not to press charges, but Johnson is still worried that much of Tennessee now thinks he is a pervert. He has been charged with public intoxication.

A 27-year-old Philadelphia man has been arrested for his technique to chase away children who would play ball outside his home. Michael Buck aimed his hi-fi speakers toward the street and began to play a film through his sound system. According to police, parents and children alike began hearing 'a woman vocalizing her pleasure during sexual intercourse' and one parent 'stated that they were 1 1/2 blocks away and could hear the woman having sex'. Buck has been ordered to take anger management classes.

Janifer Bliss, 53, was sitting in a hotel loo when a woman in a neighbouring stall accidentally let her handgun fall to the floor from her waist holster. The weapon discharged, and Bliss was shot in the lower left leg. She was hospitalised with minor injuries. It is unclear whether any charges will be filed.

In 1999, a Las Vegas man wanted a 'TAHOE' personalised number plate for his Chevy Tahoe but was told that combination of letters wasn't available. Accordingly, he opted for the abbreviated form 'HOE'. The state recently tried to cancel his plates, explaining that the Web-based Urban Dictionary indicates that they refer to prostitutes. The ensuing court battle has now concluded, with the high court ruling that 'a reasonable mind would not accept the Urban Dictionary entries alone as adequate to support a conclusion that the word "HOE" is offensive or inappropriate'.

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© 2009 Anna Shefl