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News Quirks 

Published December 14, 2011 at 11:00 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

A thief who tried to steal a Corvette in Prince George, British Columbia, stalled the car and then ran down the battery trying to restart it. Without power, the electric door locks wouldn’t work. Feeling trapped, the thief tried to break the side window with the victim’s antitheft steering wheel lock but failed. He then tried to smash the window with a hatchet that he had in his backpack but couldn’t. He finally managed to break the window and was crawling through it when the police arrived. They arrested Brent Jameson Morgan, 20. “As it turns out,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Craig Douglass pointed out, “all the suspect would have had to do was manually slide the door lock to the side, and the door would have opened.” (Prince George Citizen)

A gunman robbed a Los Angeles hotel, but two guests getting off the elevator heard the desk clerk call for help and chased the fleeing suspect. They happened to be martial arts experts in town for a tournament, so even though the robber was still holding a loaded 9mm handgun, they wrestled the weapon from him, knocked him to the ground with a leg sweep, and pinned him until police arrived and arrested Luis Rosales, 31. (Los Angeles’s KTLA-TV)

Sky’s-the-Limit Marketing

The Medford, Ore., City Council voted to allow advertising on the city airport’s control tower. The 25-by-25-foot corporate logos will appear on all four sides of the 100-foot-tall tower and could raise as much as $3000 a month. Councilor Al Densmore said the revenue would be spent to lower landing fees and help attract new airlines. (Associated Press)

Tourist officials in Norway accused tourist officials in Finland of trying to “steal” the celestial phenomenon known as the northern lights. The display is the prime, if not only, attraction for winter tourists. Norway had the market to itself until the Finnish Tourist Board posted time-lapse video footage of the aurora borealis on YouTube, where it was viewed 400,000 times in just two months. “We cannot stand by and watch the Finns try to grab a bigger share of the northern-lights market,” Per-Arne Tuftin of Innovation Norway, the state-owned company that promotes tourism, told the Tromso-based newspaper Nordlys (whose name translates as “Northern Lights”). “We will not give up — the northern lights will be ours.” (Germany’s Der Speigel)

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

A 22-year-old man in Lubbock, Texas, returned home with his wife and child around 1 a.m. but realized he had left his key inside the house. Not wanting to pay a locksmith, he decided to climb down the chimney. He got stuck, and his wife had to call 911, according to Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Loveless, who said firefighters finally rescued him after about an hour by dropping a rope down the chimney and hoisting him up. (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

Ethan Bennett, 36, told sheriff’s deputies in Benton County, Ore., that he was startled when a squirrel ran up his left leg at his residence and fired a .22-caliber rifle at it. He missed the squirrel but shot himself in the foot. (Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Paper Trail

Federal prosecutors said salespeople for a West Palm Beach, Fla., company conned a dozen elderly customers into spending about $1 million to buy unnecessary septic products, in some cases more than 70 years worth of toilet paper. The con artists at FBK Products told their victims the federal government had changed regulations governing toilet paper and that they needed the company’s special toilet paper to avoid ruining their septic tanks. (Miami Herald)

Doomed by Success

A British bakery that signed up with Chicago-based Groupon to offer a 75 percent discount on a dozen cupcakes, which normally cost $40, was forced to bake 102,000 cupcakes when 8500 people signed up online for the $10 bargain. To fill the orders, Need a Cake bakery owner Rachel Brown had to spend $19,500 to hire temporary workers through an employment agency, wiping out her year’s profits. Her Reading bakery also lost between $2.90 and $4.70 on each batch of cupcakes she sold. “Without doubt, it was my worst ever business decision,” Brown said. (BBC News)

Fire Power

Arthur Joseph Knafla, 84, greeted the opening day of hunting season in Minnesota by trying to light a propane heater in his deer stand. According to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, the heater set his clothing on fire, and he fell to the ground and died. (Minneapolis’s Star Tribune)

Poetic Justice

When Colorado authorities arrested former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick J. Sullivan Jr., 68, on a drug charge, the 2001 National Sheriff Association’s “Sheriff of the Year” was jailed at the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility, named in his honor. (Denver’s KCNC-TV)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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