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Facebook selfie leads cops to shoplifter

Stranger Than Fiction



Curses, foiled again

Police charged Danielle Saxton, 27, with shoplifting from a boutique in West Frankfort, Ill., after investigators saw pictures of her wearing the stolen clothing and jewelry that she posted on Facebook. Police Chief Shawn Talluto said officers used background images to determine the suspect's exact location and found her still holding the stolen merchandise. (Carterville's WSIL-TV)

Police investigating the theft of a wallet found a photograph of the suspect after she used the stolen credit card at a beauty-supply store in Ocala, Fla. When the woman said she didn't have photo identification, the clerk asked the woman if she would have her photo taken with the credit card. The suspect agreed and then bought $430 worth of beauty supplies. Police posted the photo of the heavily and distinctively tattooed woman, asking the public to identify her. (Ocala Star-Banner)

Life lessons

When a hailstorm rolled through Woods Canyon Lake, Ariz., a man authorities described as in his 30s, lifted a metal chair over his head to shield him from the hail. A lightning bolt struck the chair, sending the man to the hospital with an entry wound on his shoulder and exit wounds on both feet. (Phoenix's KTVK-TV)

Francesco Schettino gave a two-hour lecture on best emergency practices to a criminology seminar at Rome's La Sapienza university. Schettino was vilified as "Captain Coward" in the 2012 sinking of the cruise liner Costa Concordia after he reportedly abandoned ship before his passengers were safe. "I was called to speak because I am an expert. I had to talk about panic management," Schettino told La Nazione newspaper, explaining that he used a 3D model of the doomed vessel to demonstrate how emergency evacuations are conducted. (Australia's

Those who can't

Three 17-year-old high-school students driving in Altadena, Calif., recognized John Edward Maust, 34, a teacher at their school, standing on a sidewalk and stopped to say hello. Maust asked for a ride, according to authorities, who said the driver agreed but later became worried by the conversation and pulled over. When the students exited the vehicle, Maust "said he wanted to go to Jack in the Box, and ordered the juveniles back into the car" and pulled a knife, the sheriff's report states. One of the students managed to call 911, and a sheriff's helicopter flew overhead and ordered the driver to stop the vehicle. When he did, Maust fled but later turned himself in. (Los Angeles' KTLA-TV)

Roosevelt High School in New York's Nassau County had to reprint its 2014 yearbooks after principal Steven Strachan was accused of plagiarizing his message to graduating seniors. Not only were some of the words identical to those another principal in Albany, Calif., wrote last year, but Strachan also ended his message: "Congratulations to the Albany High School Class of 2013." (Long Island's News 12)

Litigation nation

Nigel Sykes, 23, is suing the pizzeria he admitted robbing in Wilmington, Del., claiming employees who tackled him and wrestled his gun away during the hold-up used "unnecessary" roughness to subdue him. After being handed $140, Sykes said an employee grabbed him from behind, causing him to drop his weapon, and then, "All of the Seasons Pizza employees participated in punching, kicking and pouring soup over my body." Sykes earlier insisted that an unknown person gave him the gun and forced him to rob the pizzeria, where employees beat him with pots and pans and tasered him. Sykes also asked to be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea for the robbery, explaining, "I'm not good at making choices." (Wilmington's The News)

Disorder in the court

Court deputies had to break up a fight between Judge John Murphy and public defender Andrew Weinstock during a hearing in Brevard County, Fla. After the two sparred verbally in court, the judge said, "If you want to fight, let's go out back and I'll just beat your ass." The two moved out of sight, but the courtroom camera captured audio of the scuffle, including several loud thuds. After two deputies broke up the brawl, Weinstock claimed the judge cold-cocked him and was immediately reassigned. Murphy returned to the courtroom and resumed proceedings but later took a leave of absence to receive anger management counseling. (Associated Press)

Things that go boom

Seven teenagers celebrating high-school graduation started a fire in the desert outside Henderson, Nev., but when one boy rolled a 55-gallon drum of diesel fuel to the edge of the blaze, the container blew up. All seven were hospitalized with burns, some severe. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Fuzzy on the concept

After Willie Hubbard witnessed a woman getting thrown to the ground by a man who then drove off in her car in DeKalb County, Ga., he called 911 to report a carjacking. When the operator asked Hubbard to describe the incident, she informed him it wasn't a carjacking but a theft. The two then debated whether the crime was a carjacking or a theft, delaying the police response for more than 30 minutes, according to interim Police Chief James Conroy. (Atlanta's WAGA-TV)

Innocent bystander

After James W. Wertz, 28, argued with his girlfriend over women's rights, police in Boynton Beach, Fla., said he violently attacked her pet rabbit by squeezing and punching it. He was arrested on battery and animal cruelty charges. (West Palm Beach's WPEC-TV)

End of an error

Hundreds of costumed mascots risk losing their jobs after Japan's finance ministry ordered local authorities to cut back on their use. The ministry said its investigation into the life-size "yuru-kyara" ("laid-back characters") found that 105 tax-funded organizations had created their own mascots but that "most of them had no clear purpose." Many "were created for vague 'public relations purposes,' and some of them were created just because others have introduced mascots." The ministry's investigation followed a decision by officials in Osaka Prefecture to reduce its 45 state-funded yuru-kyara after learning that the public has no clue who or what many of them are. (Agence France-Presse)

Gutter balls

British engineers investigating flooding in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, determined that hundreds of tennis balls had been flushed into the sewer drains, causing rain water to back up into the streets. "We expect sewers to get blocked with fats or baby wipes," sewage network manager Scott Burgin said, "but not tennis balls. How on earth people have managed to flush quite so many, I don't know." Workers cleared the blockage by climbing into the sewer and using their hands and shovels. (BBC News)

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