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News Quirks 

Published January 11, 2012 at 8:36 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

After two men stole DVDs and computer games from a Target store in Madison, Wis., one of them accidentally pocket-dialed 911 with his cellphone. A dispatcher listened for 54 minutes as the men bragged about the heist, described their vehicle and discussed where to sell the goods. They agreed to try a video store, but by the time they pulled up, police were already waiting and arrested Jason S. Hamielec, 29, and Brian A. Johnson, 28. (Associated Press)

Antonio Santiago, 26, denied stealing a cellphone and charger from a man who fell asleep at the rail-and-bus terminal in Hoboken, N.J., but when police called the stolen phone, it rang in Santiago’s pocket. Officers who retrieved the phone and charger also found three small bags of marijuana. (Hudson County’s Jersey Journal)

Police investigating a drive-through robbery at a Burger King in York, Pa., identified Tyechia Lorraine Rembert, 33, as their suspect after she called the restaurant to ask if any witnesses had seen her license-plate number. Investigators used cellphone records to trace the call to Rembert. (York Dispatch)

When Guns Are Outlawed

Andri Lynn Jeffers, 26, admitted trying to rob a gas station in Yavapai County, Ariz., by threatening the clerk with a toy penguin. Authorities said Jeffers told the clerk that the object, which she concealed under her sweater, was a bomb. (Arizona Republic)

Drinking-Class Heroes

Police charged Darrin Porter, 45, with disorderly conduct after he interrupted an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Cincinnati while “extremely intoxicated” and carrying a can of beer and refused to leave. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Up in Smoke

A fire destroyed a factory in Rhea County, Tenn., that produces kiln-dried firewood sold at convenience stores. Noting the building was “stacked full of dried firewood,” Evensville District Fire Chief Brad Harrison explained that the kiln that dries the wood started the fire, which spread quickly. (Chattanooga’s WRCB-TV)

When her mobile home caught fire in Obion County, Tenn., Vicky Bell called firefighters, who responded but stood by while the home burned to the ground because Bell doesn’t subscribe to their service. Mayor David Crocker of South Fulton, which provides fire protection to rural residents who pay the $75-a-year fee, explained that the money covers the cost of the manpower and equipment needed to provide the service. If the city’s firefighters responded to people who didn’t pay, Crocker said, no one would have any incentive to subscribe. Bell admitted knowing about the city’s “pay to spray” policy but said she didn’t subscribe because she and her live-in boyfriend never thought they’d be victims of a fire. She also lacked insurance to cover the trailer or its contents. (Associated Press)

Spoilsport of the Week

The U.S Labor Department is considering limiting corn sex among rural teenagers. The practice, technically known as detasseling, is designed to promote cross-pollination of corn crops. The proposed rules would prevent children younger than 16 from working for detasseling companies, which pay anywhere from minimum wage to $10 an hour and require teens to work long days in the fields for about a month. The detasseling companies and other farm organizations condemned the proposed rule change, insisting it interferes with time-honored tradition and will ultimately raise the price of corn. The Labor Department said the issue is safety. Two 14-year-old girls were electrocuted while working in an Illinois cornfield last summer when they stepped into a puddle apparently charged from a nearby irrigation system. (Washington Times)

Parts Department

An Illinois appeals court ruled that a woman who was injured after part of a man’s body hit her could sue the man’s estate. The incident occurred in 2008, when Hiroyuki Joho, 18, was running across the tracks at a Chicago train station in the rain trying to catch a Metra commuter train when an Amtrak train struck him at more than 70 mph, sending a large portion of his body flying about 100 feet onto the southbound platform, where it injured Gayane Zokhrabov, then 58. A Cook County judge dismissed Zokhrabov’s lawsuit, but the appeals court disagreed, ruling “it was reasonably foreseeable” that the high-speed train would kill Joho and fling his body toward the platform where people were waiting. (Chicago Tribune)

Omnivores’ Digest

When police responded to a 911 call from a motel in Fort Pierce, Fla., Mary Ellen Lisee, 45, told officers she called them because she “ate too much food.” Noting that she appeared to be drunk, they charged her with misuse of 911 and disorderly conduct. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

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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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