News Quirks | News Quirks | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published February 4, 2009 at 6:50 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Police in Council Bluffs, Iowa, reported that a man who threatened a store clerk with a gun took cash and then pulled out a can of pepper spray and tried to spray the clerk. Instead, he accidentally sprayed himself in the face and ran away.

• A shoplifter who made off with $1200 worth of designer purses from a store in Cape Coral, Fla., was run over twice by her getaway car. The Fort Myers News-Press reported that a security guard said the woman tried to enter the vehicle when it pulled up as she was fleeing, but she fell out. After the car ran over her, she got up and jumped onto the hood. As the car started driving away, it ran her over again. She managed to get into the car on the passenger side, but a personal business check fell out of the vehicle made out to LaKeitha Watson-Atkinson, whom police charged with several retail thefts.

School Daze Chicago Public School employees spent $67,000 to buy 30 cappuccino machines for a culinary arts program, according to an inspector general’s report, which noted that employees separated the purchases to stay under $10,000 so they wouldn’t have to seek competitive bids or school board approval. The report indicated that several months after the purchase, only three of the machines were in use, although not for the program. One has disappeared, and 22 hadn’t even been opened.

• A new school in Sheffield, England, has dropped the word “school” from its title, calling itself a “place of learning” instead. “We decided from an early stage we didn’t want to use the word ‘school,’” Watercliffe Meadow head teacher Linda Kingdon said. “One reason was many of the parents of the children here had very negative connotations of school.”

Forgive and Forget Two years after Kevin Dean, 49, was convicted of embezzling $1.2 million from an auto dealership in Anacortes, Wash., the dealer rehired him. “He was good at his job before,” Frontier Ford owner Ron Rennebohm told the Skagit Valley Herald. “I can’t live in the past.”

Dean apparently can. Since returning to work, he has continued his appeal against the court order to repay the money he and comptroller Lisa Mullen, 48, stole from the company. “I’m glad to be back,” Dean said.

Assisting Arrest Employees who caught a man stealing $900 worth of power tools, clothing, video games and DVDs at a Sears store in Frederick, Md., called police, but when officers hadn’t shown up after three hours, store officials released him. The Frederick News-Post reported that Maryland State Police eventually got around to tracking down the suspect and called him to come in for questioning. He not only agreed, but even showed up early and confessed to shoplifting.

Way to Go James Maurice Kaiser, 43, burned to death in a motor home in Benton County, Wash., investigators concluded, after setting the fire himself to cover up a burglary. Sheriff’s Det. Bob Brockman told Benton’s Tri-City Herald that smoke overcame Kaiser before he could escape with the VCR and electronic equipment found next to the body.

• Police investigating how Janice Tucker, 65, died at an ATM drive-through in Port Angeles, Wash., found a surveillance video that showed Tucker pulling her van up to the machine. When she opened a door to pick up something she dropped on the ground, the van moved forward. Det. Jesse Winfield told the Peninsula Daily News the open door hit a protective post and caught Tucker’s head between the door and the van.

• Linda Kruger-Small, 68, died after a freight train struck her car in Anaheim, Calif., because she wouldn’t follow the instructions of the 911 operator she had called for help. The operator told her that if the car wouldn’t budge and a train came, she should open the car door and get out of the car. When the safety gate lowered and an approaching train blew its horn, Kruger-Small remained in the car, even after a bystander also urged the woman to abandon the car and save herself.

Victim of the Week Scott Anderson, a handyman in Titusville, Fla., noticed the hardware store that sold him some supplies didn’t charge him sales tax for a $23 purchase, so he sent the state a check for $1.50 and an explanation. A month later, the department of revenue wrote demanding Anderson pay a $50 fine for failing to file tax returns as a business.

Orlando’s WFTY reported Anderson wrote back that he bought the items for his own use, but the hardware store mistakenly charged a tax-exempt account linked to his business. That’s what the $1.50 was for. Another month later, the revenue department raised Anderson’s fine to $650.

Best-Laid Plan of the Week Quality Egg of New England reported the theft of 259,200 eggs from one of its farms in Lewiston, Maine: 24 pallets, each holding 30 cases of eggs with 30 dozen eggs in each case. “That’s a lot of damn eggs,” compliance manager Bob Leclerc told the Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal. Pegging the loss at $25,000, Maine State Police had no leads but said the thieves would’ve needed a refrigerated box truck or a large tractor-trailer, fork-lift loading equipment to move the pallets, as well as inside knowledge of the egg farm and the egg-shipping business. “They knew what they were doing,” Trooper Michael Chavez said. “This isn’t the kind of thing where you just back up a pickup truck and load it up with eggs.”

Chavez called the thieves “pretty brazen,” pointing out that the same thieves stole the eggs on two separate occasions. The second theft happened while police were investigating the first one.