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Curses, Foiled Again Police investigating a break-in at a residence in Yonkers, N.Y., identified John Lyles, 36, as their suspect because he removed his boots to avoid making noise but then left them behind when he fled empty-handed after the homeowner's dog began barking at him. A few hours later, an officer spotted Lyles walking without shoes and arrested him.

* Police who responded to an alarm at a liquor store in Athens, Ala., followed a trail of muddy footprints to a nearby motel room, where they found a pair of muddy shoes, four bottles of vodka, and Adam Wayne Blankenship, 23, and Robert Taylor Williams, 35.

Homeland Insecurity Three lawmakers in Dover, N.J., warned that the town faces a serious homeland security threat from gumballs. During the first six months of their nine-month investigation, Aldermen Frank Poolas, Jack Delaney and Michael Picciallo reported uncovering more than 100 unlicensed coin-operated machines, many filled with gumballs, jawbreakers and other candies that they insisted are perfect weapons for potential terrorists, who could poison them to target the town's children. The concerned trio explained their goal is to create a registration process for gumball machines and find out where all the candy is coming from. "God forbid something happened," Delaney said. "There's just no record of anything."

Unapparent Apparel Japanese designer Aya Tsukioka, 29, has created a line of camouflage clothing for people anxious over street crime so they can hide from would-be assailants. Her vending-machine skirt, for example, lets women elude pursuers by opening a flap to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed with an actual-size photo of a soft-drink vending machine. The wearer conceals herself behind the sheet. Another of her designs unfolds from a kimono; a third features four sides for a more complete illusion. "It is just easier for Japanese to hide. Making a scene would be too embarrassing," Tsukioka told The New York Times, explaining she got the idea for the attire from Japan's ancient ninja, who covered themselves with black blankets at night to conceal themselves. She said she chose the vending-machine look because the machines are familiar sights on city streets in Japan.

Tsukioka, who prints and sews each by hand, said she has sold 20 vending-machine skirts so far, for $800 each. Her other creations include a backpack for children that turns into a fire hydrant to conceal the child and a "manhole bag," a purse that unfolds to look like a sewer cover.

* A 43-year-old Thai man was found dead wearing 15 bras and a mini-skirt belonging to his estranged wife. The Thai-language Khao Sod newspaper said relatives of Jaran Khadphano told police he had been suffering from depression since his wife left him for another man and had been taking painkillers washed down with coffee several times a day. Authorities suspect Jaran died of a heart attack but offered no explanation as to why he was wearing his wife's clothes.

Problem Solved Responding to criticism that Indonesia has failed to stem deforestation, losing 5 million acres of forests per year, the government announced it would plant 79 million trees in one day. "We want to show the world that it's not true that Indonesia is only a country that carries out forest destruction," Forestry Ministry official Ahmad Fauzi Mas'ud said, explaining each of the nation's 71,000 villages and 8000 other administrative areas was ordered to plant 1000 trees on Nov. 28, five days before the country hosts a United Nations conference on global climate change.

Felonious Ennui After police in Carbondale, Pa., arrested Carl Wagner, 24, when they discovered him standing nude in a doorway, one of the detectives interrogating him said he recognized Wagner from a surveillance video of a nude man who tried to rob a convenience store two weeks earlier. According to the arrest report, when Detective Sgt. Thomas Heller asked him why he would do anything so bizarre, Wagner, who has multiple convictions for indecent exposure, replied that he was bored.

Just Being Neighborly Australian officials accused Jamie Lacey, 27, of breaking into a neighbor's house while high on drugs, scattering pornographic magazines around the bathroom and fashioning a sex toy from a bottle of detergent, a piece of wood and a rubber glove. The Brisbane Times reported Lacey was arrested after police matched his DNA to that on the rubber glove. Judge Tony Rafter dismissed a defense motion that there was no proof a vacuum cleaner also found in the bathroom had been used for sexual purposes. "I'm sure," the newspaper quoted Rafter as saying, "that your client didn't Hoover the carpets."

Unanticipated Consequences Investigators concluded from evidence at the scene of a house fire in Basalt, Colo., that John Kenworthy, 50, tried to kill a woman he knew but accidentally ignited himself. When the pain became unbearable, police Sgt. Mark Langford reported, the man shot himself in the face to end his misery. As his body lay burning, the fire ignited about 20 rounds of ammunition, riddling the body with shrapnel. Indicating Kenworthy may have been planning a murder-suicide, Langford declared, "He was there to do evil."

* Australian authorities reported that three male occupants of a dinghy stood up and "bared their buttocks" at a group of people on shore but then lost their balance and fell into the water. The engine continued to run in gear, causing the unoccupied vessel to circle in the waterway. Its rotating propeller struck one of the mooners, a 17-year-old boy from Kanimbla, in the face, causing serious injuries.

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Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.


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