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Thief snared by technology (and gross stupidity)

Stranger than fiction



Stranger Than Fiction

Curses, foiled again

Assistant manager Ariel Sinclair, 23, stole nearly $6,000 from a drug store's lottery machine after using its fingerprint-recognition feature to unlock it, according to police in Virginia Beach, Va. "If you're providing your fingerprint to access this machine, I have no idea how, in your mind, you're thinking you're going to get away with this," police official Adam Bernstein commented. (Norfolk's WTKR-TV)

Closed-circuit cameras showed a man in his late 20s trying to rob a store in Blackpool, England, by threatening the clerk with a machete and a kitchen knife. The clerk responded by brandishing a mop and a bottle of vodka, forcing the crook to flee the store empty-handed. (Blackpool's The Gazette)

Put on a happy face

Japan's Freshness Burger chain introduced a paper napkin imprinted with a closed, polite smile to cover women's mouths while they eat. Japanese custom considers modest mouths, called "ochobo," attractive on women — etiquette dictates that they should refrain from opening their mouths wide in public. The napkin, dubbed Liberation Wrapper, is intended to free women "from burger-face shame," Freshness Burger said, noting that sales of its jumbo Classic Burger have soared among women since the napkin's introduction. (Britain's Metro)

Gun alternatives

While arguing with her fiancé in Sebastian, Fla., Kimberly Francisco, 42, threw hot mashed potatoes and gravy at him, according to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office. Francisco denied tossing the spuds, but the arresting officer reported that when he arrived on the scene, he "noticed food, to include mashed potatoes, appeared to be thrown around the kitchen area." (Vero Beach's

Driven to distraction

Daisy Cowit, 21, plowed into a herd of dairy cows while looking at her cellphone outside Mount Hope, N.Y., hitting six or seven of the animals and totaling her car. Cowit denied witnesses' claims that she was texting but admitted looking down to check an incoming call. Police Chief Paul Rickard said it had to be more than a quick glance, however, and the herd's owner, Mike Hosking, suggested, "If you don't see 50 cows in the road, you're doing something [wrong]." (Middletown's Times Herald-Record)

Truck driver Jorge Espinoza, 33, slammed his empty fuel tanker into three police cars and two fire trucks in Yuma County, Ariz., while going 65 mph with his cruise control on. He explained that he didn't see the emergency vehicles because he was watching a passing truck in his mirror, but investigators determined that he was using his smartphone to look at "photographs of several women in provocative positions, wearing little clothing" at the time of the crash, which killed a police officer. (Tucson's Arizona Daily Star)

The heat is on

Warmer temperatures are thawing Alaska's permafrost layer, which covers most of the state's land, causing damage to roads, buildings and airport runways while releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases that further warm the atmosphere worldwide. Vladimir Romanovsky, who runs the University of Alaska's Permafrost Laboratory in Fairbanks, said that his models indicate permafrost degradation will become widespread in a decade or two. (USA Today)

Global warming could increase violence, according to researchers whose studies show that shifts in climate historically have prompted violent confrontations. "Climatic events may alter individuals' ability to reason and correctly interpret events, possibly leading to conflicts triggered by misunderstandings," the researchers, led by Solomon Hsiang of the University of California at Berkeley, warned, forecasting that the risk of intergroup conflict worldwide would be amplified by 50 percent in 2050. (Science)

Bacon bits

Bacon can lower a man's sperm count, according to Harvard University researchers, who studied men who regularly ate bacon, sausages, ham and other processed meat, and found they had 30 percent less normal sperm than men who restrained themselves to less than a rasher of bacon a day. (Britain's The Telegraph)

The latest bacon product from J&D Foods in Seattle is "Power Bacon," a bacon-scented deodorant. "We realize that everyone loves bacon," company co-founder Justin Esch said. "Well, now everyone can smell like it 24 hours a day." (Seattle's KIRO-TV)

Slight provocation

Jeff Fleming, 53, pleaded guilty to shooting a golfer who broke a window at his home near the 16th hole of a course in Reno, Nev. The victim was unable to find his ball and was dropping a new ball at the Lakeridge Golf Course when Fleming fired a shotgun, wounding him in an arm and both legs. "Live on a golf course, and you got to expect your house to get hit every once in a while," Deputy District Attorney Sean Neahusan said. (Associated Press)

Police said Wilsly Dudley Lacroix, 25, pulled a gun and threatened to "pistol whip" a personal trainer outside a gym in Boynton Beach, Fla., because the trainer scolded him for not putting away weights. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

A 52-year-old woman reported that her friend became violent, tossed furniture and attacked her after he discovered that she'd thrown away his cigarette butts. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, said the suspect had gathered the used cigarettes outside, intending to smoke them, but the victim didn't know the butts were his and dumped them. (Des Moines Register)

Puppy-dog tales

After three pit bulls escaped from a home in Washington, D.C., and attacked 12-year-old Jayeon Simon, a neighbor and a police officer both opened fire, killing all three dogs. Besides suffering several bites, the victim was hit in the ankle by his rescuers' gunfire and had to undergo multiple surgeries. (The Washington Times)

Intending to educate fifth-graders on drug awareness at a school in Brazil, Ind., K-9 Officer Ray Walters hid a small amount of marijuana on one of the students and told everyone to stand still while the officer's dog "began searching the juveniles," according to Walters. When one of boys moved his leg, the dog bit him on the left calf, requiring him to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. (The Brazil Times)

Sorry about that

After calling a speech by the president "silly remarks" deserving "a veil of oblivion," The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., apologized in a Nov. 14 editorial for failing "to recognize its momentous importance, timeless eloquence and lasting significance." The original judgment, by the paper's predecessor, the Patriot & Union, referred to Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. (The Patriot-News)a

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