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News Quirks (5/21/14)


Published May 21, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

British police arrested five members of a Liverpool gang for breaking into a clothing store after hours after they attracted the attention of customers at a bar next door with loud banging while using a sledge hammer to smash the door. The suspects were apprehended after a high-speed chase. Attorneys for the defendants conceded the heist was "well-planned but badly executed." (Liverpool Echo)

Investigators charged Ian Dishon Isabel, 29, with secretly recording girls using an elementary school restroom in Davenport, Iowa, after cameras found behind the toilets showed not only close-up images of children from the waist down, but also those of the man installing them. Isabel conducts an after-school program at Hayes Elementary. "Although the male's face is not visible," the police affidavit said, "his identification card can be seen hanging from a lanyard on his neck." (Moline, Ill.'s WQAD-TV)

Another 15 Minutes of Fame

An Israeli company sprung Thamsanqa Jantjie from a South African psychiatric hospital to appear in a commercial for its social live-streaming app. Jantjie gained worldwide attention as the sign-language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service who made meaningless gestures and afterward blamed the incident on schizophrenia. Tel Aviv-based Livelens hired a Zulu-speaking journalist to convince staffers at the hospital that Jantjie needed to be released for one day for a "family event" and then shot the ad in a few hours, according to company marketing manager Sefi Shaked. After the National Association of the Deaf objected that a company would "hire and portray any individual who has become synonymous with mockery of sign language interpreting," Shaked pointed out, "At the end of the day, a schizophrenic guy got paid and did a nice campaign — a sad story with a happy ending." (NBC News)

Slightest Provocation

Daniel Trent admitted stabbing a friend and his dog during an argument that began when Trent disputed his friend's claim to the last beer in a 24-pack of Natural Ice. After Trent stabbed Mark Durham, 56, he said the victim told him to kill the dog, so he did. "I should've stopped drinking," Trent said. (Ocala Star-Banner)

Life's Ironies

More than 100 people reported suffering food poisoning at a national Food Safety Summit in Baltimore, Md. After surveying more than 1,300 of the nation's top food safety professionals who attended the conference, state health officials said only 400 responded, so the actual toll might be higher. (NBC News)

Mother of the Year (Quarter Finals)

While on vacation in Key West, Fla., Suzanne Simon, 38, kicked her 12-year-old son out of the car without any shoes because he was reading the car's GPS incorrectly, according to a police report. She also sent her 8-year-old daughter in search of beer. Police arrested Simon, who lives in Sugar Land, Texas, on suspicion of child neglect. (Houston's KHOU-TV)

Police arrested Sonja Hernandez, 39, for bringing her 8-year-old son, teenage daughter and three other teens with her to set fire to nine vehicles in Fort Worth, Texas. Arson investigator Brad Sims said no motive had been determined. (Fort Worth's KXAS-TV)

On Second Thought

David Shaff, administrator of the Portland, Ore., Water Bureau, announced the city would flush 38 million gallons of treated water down the drain after surveillance cameras caught a 19-year-old man appearing to urinate into an open reservoir. Tests showed the water was safe to drink, but Shaff defended the decision: "My customers expect they will receive water that has not been deliberately contaminated." Two weeks later, the city decided not to dump the water but instead divert it to an empty reservoir to "see how long it stays fresh and clear," Water Bureau official Jaymee Cuti said. (Associated Press)

When Christopher Lewis refilled his 89-cent drink without paying at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Charleston, S.C., a federal police office issued him a ticket and banned him from the hospital. Facing a $525 fine, Lewis explained that he told the officer he hadn't seen the sign saying no free refills and was willing to pay the 89 cents. Hospital officials who reviewed the incident decided a warning was sufficient. (Associated Press)

Wrong Arm of the Law

A sheriff's deputy in Riverside County, Calif., trying to kill a dog he insisted was threatening his life, "pulled his service weapon, shot one round and injured himself in the leg," according to a sheriff's official. (Riverside County's Press-Enterprise)

A former police officer who tried to set fire to a food cart belonging to a blogger who exposed police corruption in Little Rock, Ark., died while fleeing when the blogger tackled him and he fell face first. (Little Rock's KARK-TV)