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'Bumbling' butt-dialer busted 

Stranger Than Fiction

Curses, foiled again

David Fanuelsen, 39, and Dean Brown, 22, stole construction equipment worth $8,000 from their employer, according to police in Key West, Florida. The boss, Stace Valenzuela, identified the workers as the thieves because he had overheard them planning the theft after Fanuelsen unintentionally butt-dialed him. "Talk about bumbling idiots," Valenzuela said. (Reuters)

Brian J. Byers crashed his car while driving drunk and then poured water on the road so it would look like black ice caused the crash, according to police in Sparta, New Jersey. Byers drove the car home and had a friend drive him back to the scene, where an officer spotted Byers carrying two 5-gallon buckets back to his friend's car after emptying them. It's not clear how many trips back and forth Byers made with the buckets, but the town's public works department needed to apply half a ton of salt to make the road safe for driving. The officer charged the friend, Alexander Zambenedetti, 20, with drunken driving, too. (NJ.com)

Bowling for hollers

Two people in east Ukraine were injured while bowling after a player rolled a grenade instead of a ball. The blast occurred at a restaurant that also offers duckpin bowling, which uses a small ball without holes. Emergency services official Sergei Ivanushkin cited the incident as the latest in a rash of accidents in the rebel-controlled area caused by careless use of explosives. (Associated Press)

Degrees of guilt

Police who spotted a pickup truck matching the description of a stolen vehicle in Destin, Florida, reported that the only occupant, Debra Jean Mason, 58, denied stealing the vehicle. She did admit knowing it was stolen but said, "I didn't think it was that stolen." (Northwest Florida Daily News)

When a woman pointed a gun at a bartender in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and demanded money, customer Jeff Steele stopped her with his Taser. The suspect, Heidi Thompson, 24, ran away but was quickly arrested. Police also charged Steele because he didn't have a concealed carry permit for the Taser. "When I bought it off the Internet, it said basically that it's legal to have in the state of Wisconsin but didn't go into any depth on it," Steele explained, "so I assumed it was legal to carry around, otherwise why would you buy one to leave it at home?" (La Crosse's WKBT-TV)

Phones for dummies

Ontario researchers announced they've found a link between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence. The reason, their survey suggests, is that the devices encourage lazy thinking by allowing users to solve problems with computers rather than exercise their brains. "Decades of research has revealed that humans are eager to avoid expending effort when problem-solving, and it seems likely that people will increasingly use their smartphones as an extended mind," said study co-author Nathaniel Barr of the University of Waterloo. (United Press International)

Sheena Keynna Miller, 27, was injured after she walked in front of a freight train while texting on her cellphone. Miller told police in Lakeland, Florida, that she didn't hear the train horn or see the crossing arms down when she stepped onto the tracks. Police Sgt. Gary Gross said the locomotive tossed Miller into the air, fracturing her arm. (Orlando Sentinel)

Homeland insecurity

A traveler was allowed to use expedited airport security lines, even after a security officer at the airport recognized the person as a convicted felon and former member of a domestic terrorist group, according to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's Office. The official report said the security officer alerted his supervisor but was told to "take no action" and let the passenger through. (NBC News)

An investigation of a Federal Air Marshal program specialist uncovered evidence that she was rearranging the flight schedules of air marshals to coordinate sexual trysts. The Center for Investigative Reporting said it found that Michelle D'Antonio, 48, had apparently been using access to sensitive government databases to change flight schedules of air marshals she was interested in dating. Federal air marshals are assigned to commercial flights deemed "high risk" because they carry heavy fuel loads or important passengers. More than 60 government workers face scrutiny in the case. (MSNBC)

Irony of the week

A fire extinguisher factory in Chicago burned down, even after 156 firefighters with 26 pieces of equipment responded to the three-alarm blaze, because they had nothing to put it out with. Noting that firefighters couldn't reach the flames with water, First Deputy Fire Commissioner Charles Stewart III explained that firefighters finally "had one engine feed another engine to another engine until we got water on the fire." (United Press International)

When guns are outlawed

Police charged three suspects with assaulting and robbing a 30-year-old man in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by threatening him with a hypodermic needle. (Winston-Salem Journal)

Post-posting

Facebook announced that U.S. users can designate a "legacy contact," who is authorized to continue posting on their page after they die, respond to new friend requests, and update their profile picture and cover photo. Users can also ask to have their accounts deleted after their death, a previously unavailable option. (Associated Press)

Injudicious behavior

When reporters spotted Flavio Roberto de Souza, the judge presiding over criminal proceedings against Eike Batista, once Brazil's richest man, driving Batista's confiscated Porsche, Souza insisted, "I did not take it to use, just to look after." He explained the police didn't have a safe place to protect it from exposure to sun, rain and possible damage, so he took it to a covered parking space in the building where he lives in Rio de Janeiro. "I want the car to be preserved in good condition," he said. (Reuters)

Thanks for your service

Canada's House of Commons approved a policy change allowing military veterans who've lost limbs to verify their condition every three years, rather than annually. (The Canadian Press)

How times change

Mark Rothwell was awarded the Civilian Medal for Heroism for disarming a would-be bank robber in Portland, Oregon, in 2010. "We make decisions every day," he said at the presentation ceremony by the Portland Police Bureau. "If you want to see change in the world, you be that change." This February, police took Rothwell, 49, into custody for pointing a gun at bank tellers and demanding "all your cash." Tracking dogs led officers to an address, where Rothwell appeared and announced, "It's me you want. I just robbed the bank." (Portland's The Oregonian)

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