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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

Police investigating a fire at an automotive shop in Gloucester Township, Mass., accused Mark Trigg, 20, and Cameron Semple, 21, of setting the fire to cover up a burglary. Trigg had a master key to certain vending machines, but after he and Semple broke into the shop, they found the key didn't fit the machine there. When they opened a door to look for items to take, they triggered an alarm and fled. They soon returned, police said, to "wipe clean any fingerprints left behind." Trigg, "fearing he did not clear their fingerprints," set fire to the building and called 9-1-1 to report the fire under a false name. Trigg and Semple then "sat across the street and watched the firefighting operations," police said. An arson investigator identified Trigg as a suspect by calling the phone number recorded at the 9-1-1 dispatch center. Trigg answered and provided his real name. (Gloucester County Times)

Robert Strank, 39, tried to rob a bank in Beavercreek, Ohio, according to police, but suffered a medical condition that prompted tellers to call for medics. Before they arrived, the stricken Strank handed one of the tellers a note demanding cash. Medics arrived, briefly examined Strank and then turned him over to police. (Dayton's WDTN-TV)

Buttinsky Dad

Randy Swopes, 52, of Waukegan, Ill., accepted a plea deal that kept him out of prison for sewing his son's butt. The boy, who was 14 at the time, was suffering from an anal fistula. Rather than take his son to the hospital, the father used a needle and thread to sew the fistula shut. The makeshift stitching was discovered when the wound became infected, requiring the boy to be hospitalized. (Waukegan's Lake County News-Sun)

Don't-show-me state

Seeking to determine whether members of the Missouri National Guard dispatched to Joplin after last year's tornado to secure the city instead looted it, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch filed an open-records request. The guard denied the request, citing its exemption to the state open-records law. In fact, Missouri is the only state that shields the National Guard from public accountability, an exemption from the state's Sunshine Law that even the lawmaker who in 1987 requested it believes was a mistake. "I'd have a hard time supporting any government entity paid for by tax dollars being exempted from the open-meetings law," former Sen. John Scott said. Denied access to records, the newspaper went directly to Brig. Gen. Randy Alewel, commander of the 35th Engineer Brigade. He confirmed that members of his unit were involved in the looting and that "disciplinary action was imposed on those soldiers." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Who needs guns?

State police who broke up a fight between two men in Upper Paxton Township, Pa., reported that one man attacked the other with two knives while the other man defended himself by wielding a flamingo lawn ornament. (Harrisburg's The Patriot-News)

Slight provocation

Police responding to a domestic disturbance in Palmer Township, Pa., reported that Joyce Speciale-Detweiler, 53, beat her husband with a vacuum cleaner pole after they argued about his "facial hair style." Donald Detwiler said his wife attacked him even after he told her he planned to shave later that day. (Lehigh Valley's The Express-Times)

After a man in his early 20s smeared his girlfriend's face with cake at a party, they both thought it was funny, according to San Diego police, who reported, "The girlfriend's brother, a male in his mid-20s, did not think it was funny. He took out a knife and stabbed the boyfriend and two other males attending the party." (Los Angeles Times)

Litigation nation

Claiming the "ridged seat" of his 1993 BMW motorcycle caused him to have an erection that lasted two years, Henry Wolf sued BMW North America and Corbin-Pacific, the seat's maker. The lawsuit stated the severe case of priapism developed soon after Wolf completed a four-hour trip in San Francisco, causing him "continuing problems," according to his lawyer, Vernon Bradley, who noted that his client "is now unable to engage in sexual activity, which is causing him substantial emotional and mental anguish." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Drinking-class hero

When Jose Sanders, 22, tried to buy beer at a liquor store in Braselton, Ga. the clerk thought he looked too young, asked to see his identification but still wouldn't sell him beer. Sanders told the clerk to call the police, declaring, "I have no worry. My whole intention is to buy this beer." When police arrived, they arrested Sanders for disorderly conduct. Assistant Police Chief Lou Solis said Sanders admitted using profanity after he became "kind of frustrated," but insisted he was just talking to himself. "Sometimes I talk out loud," Sanders said, explaining he has a medical condition that affected his growth, causing him to appear younger and making him a constant victim of discrimination. (Atlanta's WSB-TV)

It's reasonable

Sheriff's deputies dispatched to a vehicle burglary in Weber County, Utah, found Justin Atmore, 31, along with several burglary tools, including lock picks, pliers, knives, a screwdriver and bolt cutters. The arrest report said Atmore insisted he was just practicing to be a locksmith. Unconvinced, deputies searched Atmore's truck and found stolen purses and wallets, a camera, stolen DVDs, gems valued at $5,000 and a stolen .380-caliber handgun. (Ogden's Standard-Examiner)

Charged with grand theft after a surveillance video showed him stealing chairs and a carpet from a neighbor's apartment in Doral, Fla., Spanish-language television news anchor Frank Cairo, 48, explained, "I make half a million dollars and don't need to be stealing." (The Miami Herald)

Covert fashion

Noting the rise of concealed-weapon permits from 5 million in 2008 to 7 million today, at least three companies are creating clothing designed to hide the fact that the wearer is packing heat. Woolrich offers an entire concealed-carry line, including $65 chinos that feature an additional pocket and stretchable waistband. 5.11 Tactical announced it is introducing a vest containing a frontal "stealth compartment" that hides the wearer's hand secretly holding a gun. Under Armor's appeal to the toting crowd is that the company's signature moisture-wicking fabric prevents rust. (The New York Times)

Driver's ed dropout

After crashing into a utility pole in Mercer County, Fla., Janelle Schwieterman, 17, was uninjured and returned to her home to get another vehicle. As she pulled out of her driveway, she drove into the path of a tractor-trailer and was hospitalized with critical injuries. (Miami's WMIA-FM)

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