NewsQuirks 658

Curses, Foiled Again and Again

A man who tried to rob two banks in Avon Lake, Ohio, left empty-handed both times after becoming confused. When the man showed a teller at the first bank a note that read simply "$1,000," she asked if he wanted the money from his checking or savings account. "It just sort of befuddled him," police Lt. Mike Bulger said, "and he turned around and left."

A few minutes later, he presented the same note at another bank, but again left after tellers questioned him. "He doesn't sound like the sharpest knife in the drawer," Bulger said.

Not-So-Great Escapes

Police responding to an emergency call in San Mateo County, Calif., spotted Tom Lovecchio, 52, driving away from the home of his estranged wife. The officers turned on their siren, but Lovecchio fled -- in a motor home. The chase lasted about 20 minutes until Lovecchio pulled over and surrendered. The motor home's top speed was between 50 and 55 mph, according to Belmont Sgt. Dan DeSmidt, who pointed out, "It's probably not the best vehicle to get in a police chase with."

Police in Fredericksburg, Va., responding to an auto accident between a Mitsubishi coupe and a Honda received reports that the Mitsubishi had been driving out of control, striking a traffic signal box, a stoplight pole, a business sign and another car before finally rear-ending the Honda at a red light. When officers arrived, the Mitsubishi driver had fled -- in a street sweeper. Officers quickly caught up to the sweeper truck and arrested Leroy Hudson, 26.

Handicapable

A one-legged man entered a restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colo., by removing his prosthetic leg and using it to break the restaurant window. Police said Michael Richards, 54, took money from the register but because he wasn't wearing his artificial leg he was unable to exit the business before officers arrived.

The manager of an auto parts store in Kansas City, Mo., was counting money when a man in the store snatched the cash. While the two struggled, a mechanic came in, grabbed the man and threw him into a shelf. But the man had some money in his hands and started to run away. Grabbing for whatever he could, the mechanic seized the man's left leg below the knee. It turned out to be an artificial leg and popped off in the mechanic's hands, along with the man's pants. "So there he was," the manager told The Kansas City Star, "a one-legged man wearing nothing but his boxer shorts, hopping through the snow."

Where's the Oversight Committee When You Need One?

The town of Brinson, Ga., discovered that it was supposed to have elected two town council members in November, but officials never held the election because they mistakenly thought the terms expired later.

The voters of Hardeeville, S.C., elected Rodney Cannon mayor in 1996. After serving a four-year term, he ran again in 2000 and was re-elected. This fall, Town Administrator Shane Haynes was studying the town's ordinances and discovered that the mayor's term is two years, not four.

Trickle-Down Effect

A survey to measure the impact of Hong Kong's second recession in four years found that a quarter of the 60,000 adults who wet their beds do so because they worry about their jobs.

Brilliant Deduction

Authorities at the St. Lucie County, Fla. jail intercepted a note from inmate Robert Heike that contained a series of symbols. Suspecting it was some kind of code, detention deputies, led by puzzle fanatic Debra Wesley, quickly deciphered the message, which instructed a friend how to help Heike escape. They said Heike was shocked when they showed him his note with an English translation. "He admitted that he'd spent four years on this code," Sheriff Ken Mascara said. "He couldn't believe they deciphered it in an hour and a half."

Tempus Fugit

Hungary's Gizella Kosztor, 75, earned the nickname "Flying Gizi" during the 1950s when she took cheap flights from Budapest to rural towns, burgled homes and flew home in the evening. In December, she was charged with stealing jewelry and cash worth nearly $1,800 from five homes in Encs after police arrested her at the local railway station waiting for a train to the capital. She told police that she had come out of retirement to raise money to have her memoirs published but was forced to take the train because air fares have risen so much that she could no longer afford her trademark getaway.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Cassandra Willoughby, who was actively involved in a program warning teen-agers not to drink and drive, killed herself and her roommate when she rolled her car while driving drunk near Santa Barbara, Calif. Toxicology results released by the California Highway Patrol indicated that Willoughby's blood-alcohol level was .18, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

Repent Ye Sinners

A 32-year-old Filipino farmer sliced off his penis with a machete because he believed it was driving him to sin. Noting that the man was obsessed with the Bible, his mother told reporters in Bacolod City that his act was probably triggered by the New Testament verse of Matthew 18:8: "If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire." Local news media reported that the man had visualized his penis as a "cobra" drawing him toward women.

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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