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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

After Dustin Matthew Marshall, 20, tried on a pair of jeans at a Wal-Mart store in Gallatin, Tenn., and walked out without paying, police identified him because he left his old jeans behind, along with his wallet. (Nashville's WTVF-TV)

Police spotted a thief leaving a Wal-Mart store in Alliance, Ohio, and gave chase but lost him. Less than an hour later, dispatchers received a call from a man reporting that a friend called to say he'd been hiding in a dumpster behind a Wal-Mart when a trash truck emptied the dumpster and began compacting him. "He had been compacted several times," an officer said after police located and rescued suspect James Michael Brienzo, 37. "He was just begging us to empty the truck." (Cleveland's WKYC-TV)

Be seeing you

A British venture is enlisting citizens with laptop computers to monitor closed-circuit surveillance cameras in businesses. Monitors who spot suspicious behavior notify businesses and send a photo image of the potential crime. Monitors who catch offenders in the act can win up to 1,000 pounds ($1,600) in cash from Internet Eyes, which distributes the streaming footage. The monitors pay a fee to subscribe, must be over 18 and aren't able to choose which footage they see or view premises in their local area. (Reuters)

Stupid gun tricks

Sanford Rothman, 63, told police in Boulder, Colo., he woke up to a "bang" and found he'd been shot in the left knee. Noting that Rothman keeps a 9mm handgun near his bed, Sgt. Paul Reichenbach said investigators concluded the wound was accidental and probably occurred while Rothman was sleepwalking. (Boulder Daily Camera)

When Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies responded to a liquor store robbery, the store manager met them and began pointing behind the deputies to indicate the direction the robbers fled. One of the deputies, a trainee, mistook the manager's index finger for a gun aimed at them and fired eight rounds at the manager. All the shots missed. (Los Angeles Times)

Pre-owned undies

Jail officials in Bradley County, Tenn., admitted issuing new inmates used underwear. Sheriff's department official Bob Gault said the jail's policy is to issue everything incoming prisoners wear, take it back when they're released and reuse it. Gault insisted the used underwear is thoroughly washed. (Associated Press)

Revenue reflections

Owen Sound, Ontario, will receive $12,000 from an agency that is replacing eight mirrors with television screens in some restrooms at a city community center. The screens display digital ads but use motion detectors to change back to mirrors when a person approaches them. "It sounds really weird," Mayor Ruth Lovell Stanners said after the city council signed the five-year contract with KB Media Inc. (Owen Sound's The Sun Times)

Sitting pretty

German scientist Risto Koiva invented the "Intelli Chair," which warns sitters who're sitting wrong or have sat for too long. "Four touch-sensitive sensors in the seat of the chair and another four in the back of the chair detect how the user is sitting," Koiva explained. "The data they collect is sent to a computer via a Bluetooth module." The chair then alerts the sitter to change position. (Reuters)

I am not a perv

After working as a taxi driver for 17 years, British ex-con John Searl, 74, returned to crime to combat rumors that he was a convicted pedophile. Defending attorney Karen Moxonsmith told Sheffield Magistrates Court that her client deliberately smashed two windows at a residence in Hillsborough so he would be charged and his criminal record read in open court to verify that he had no conviction for sex offenses. "He was so upset by the allegations," Moxonsmith told district judge Tony Brown, "he thought this was the best way to clear his name." (Britain's Daily Mail)

Hang up and drive

A 58-year-old woman in Richmond, Calif., rear-ended a car in front of her at a red light while she was fiddling with her cell phone. The driver turned out to be Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus. "I saw her creeping up on me," he said. "She had her head down, looking at the phone."

Magnus added that he had previously encountered the same woman when he was behind her while she was so focused on her cell phone that he had to honk his horn to get her to move. After their fender bender, the woman explained she had been distracted because she was looking down to find her Bluetooth hands-free device. Magnus didn't cite the woman because he was involved in the incident, and the officers who responded to the accident didn't see it, so the woman drove off without a ticket. (Contra Costa Times)

Her really bad day

Alerted by neighbors, police found Ruth Johnson, 89, on the floor of her home in Anne Arundel County, Md., and declared her dead. Because she was donating her body to science, the officers notified the state board that accepts such donations. A board representative who came to the house found Johnson alive. The woman was taken to the hospital, then transferred to a hospice, where she died for real. (The Washington Post)

Serenity now

Hoping to calm people who receive parking tickets, city officials in Cambridge, Mass., began including yoga poses on the back of tickets. Susan Clippinger, who heads the city's transportation department, explained the 40,000 tickets were part of a public art project intended "to debunk the idea that all parking tickets are a hostile action." (Boston Herald)

Way to go

Police investigating the shooting death of Jos Lawrence Potvin, 75, at his home in Levis, Quebec, said Potvin accidentally triggered a booby trap he had set up. The device consisted of a string running across the floor of his bedroom that was tied to a loaded rifle. (The Canadian Press)

David Shigeru Yamamoto Hepner, 19, died when he leaned out of a window of a moving truck to greet friends and hit a utility pole. Police in Anne Arundel County, Md., insisted that speed and alcohol weren't factors. (The Washington Post)

Bad reception

Friends of the groom at a wedding reception in Niles, Ill., celebrated by throwing him up in the air as part of what his sister-in-law described as a "traditional dance." They failed to catch him, however, and the 29-year-old man landed flat on his back and had to be taken to the hospital with neck and back injuries. (Chicago Sun-Times)

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