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News Quirks 07.26.06


Published July 26, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

When British motorist John Hopwood, 44, received a traffic ticket after a speed camera recorded him driving 48 mph in a 30-mph zone, he removed a 40-mph speed limit sign elsewhere, drove back to the 30-mph area, attached it to a lamp post and took a photo to prove that he hadn't really been that far over the limit. The authorities became suspicious when other drivers questioned the newly posted sign. Hopwood admitted his plan, and Judge Anthony Ensor at Manchester Crown Court sentenced him to 28 weeks in custodial custody, including weekends behind bars, and fined him 2763 pounds ($5081) in legal costs. "This was a stupid scheme," the judge told Hopwood, "bound to fail."

Mensa Rejects of the Week

Police in Sanford, Florida, arrested Mitchell Raulerson, 55, for drunk driving after an officer became suspicious of Raulerson's hand-drawn license plate.

--David Carpenter, 24, was a week away from taking his physical exam to become a Florida Highway Patrol trooper when he was arrested after leading troopers on a high-speed motorcycle chase during rush hour in Miami. At one point, Carpenter headed south in the northbound lane of the Florida Turnpike and smashed the cycle's front rim by hurling over a curb to avoid a tollbooth. When troopers found him outside his apartment washing his car, he denied being the motorcyclist, but his dog came to the window and moved the blinds to bark at the troopers, who looked through the window and spotted the motorcycle in Carpenter's bedroom. They also found his application to join the FHP. "We told him don't bother showing up," FHP official Lt. Julio Pajon said. "Getting arrested is an automatic disqualifier."

Who Do You Think You Are, the NSA?

Michael Gannon, 49, used his home security system to videotape a detective who had come to his house in Nashua, N.H., investigating his 15-year-old son. Upset because he thought the detective was rude, Gannon took the surveillance tape to the police station to back up his complaint. Instead, police arrested Gannon and charged him with two felony counts of violating state eavesdropping and wiretap laws for using an electronic device to record the detective without the detective's consent.

Jews & Blues

The Florida Marlins announced that they were celebrating Jewish Heritage Day by giving away T-shirts with the likeness of first baseman Mike Jacobs. Apparently no one on the club asked Jacobs if he's Jewish. He isn't.

--The Baltimore Orioles returned an entire shipment of 20,000 Brian Roberts bobblehead dolls a few days before they were to be given away after team officials discovered they had dark skin. Second baseman Roberts is white. "It didn't look like Brian Roberts. The coloring was bad," Orioles representative Bill Stetka said, adding that he heard the bobbleheads were "very dark and bluish."

Old Habits Die Hard

German police reported that a 61-year-old man on trial for theft in Coburg stole the judge's keys from the bench. The judge didn't notice the keys were missing until the man, who had a string of convictions for theft, had left the room. When court officials confronted the man in the men's room, he explained that he was shocked to discover the keys in his pocket. "He told them he realized how suspicious his story would sound and that he had therefore hidden the keys under a toilet brush," police official Bernhard Schmitt said. "He'd been stealing all his life, so it was probably just an intuitive act."

--British authorities said that James Robin, 18, who was due to appear before magistrates on burglary charges, stole a schoolboy's bicycle so he wouldn't be late. Appearing in Reading Crown Court, Robin admitted stopping the 16-year-old boy riding along a footpath and threatened to stab him and throw him off a bridge unless he handed over the bike. He also took small change, a lighter, a wireless phone and cigarettes.

Incendiary Devices

Fire investigators in Magnolia, Del., said that a 50-year-old man suffered burns to his hand and face after he tried to start a fire in his charcoal grill by igniting gunpowder.

--Authorities in Dallas said a patient at Methodist Dallas Medical Center who was wearing an oxygen mask tried to light a cigarette in his hospital bed, and sparked a fire that forced the evacuation of more than 100 patients, destroyed the room, melted medical equipment and seriously burned the patient. "He somehow got the strength to smoke a cigarette with a nonremovable mask," Fire-Rescue Capt. Paul Martinez said. "I don't know how he did it, but he did it."

Not a Pretty Picture

Authorities in Cedar City, Utah, cited a 28-year-old woman for lewdness after she exposed herself inside a food market. The woman was riding a motorized cart with her pants around her ankles and not wearing underwear. Whenever she stood up from the cart and bent over to look at items on the shelf, she exposed her buttocks. The woman told police that she arrived in Cedar City with a circus but was left behind.

Avoirdupois News

German police said that a 30-year-old man who was run over by a car after he fell off his bicycle in Gifhorn avoided serious injury because he weighs 440 pounds. Noting that the extra body mass cushioned the impact, police official Sven-Marco Claus said, "Someone smaller would probably not have been so lucky."

Child's Play

Exasperated by the inability of lawyers David J. Pettinato and D. Lee Craig to agree on where to conduct the deposition of a witness, Judge Gregory A. Presnell of Federal District Court in Orlando, Fla., ordered them to "convene at a neutral site" and "engage in one (1) game of 'rock, paper, scissors'" to settle the matter.

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