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Curses, Foiled Again

Randall Michael figured out he could buy a $41,000 truck without paying anything by using someone else's credit information and Social Security number. Police in Fairmont, W. Va., said Michael's plan might have worked if he hadn't used his own address for delivery of the vehicle. Investigators confiscated the truck and arrested him.

Russell Carnes, 29, a FedEx contract driver in Los Angeles, found Christmas presents for his relatives by taking $14,000 worth of packages he was supposed to deliver. Deputy District Attorney Rouman Ebrahim said the family members alerted authorities after they became suspicious because the boxes Carnes gave them had the shipping company's logo on them.

Police in Muskegon Heights, Mich., arrested a woman suspected of shoplifting at a Family Dollar Store after she dropped her purse in the parking lot while being chased, then went to the police station to retrieve it.

Scottish police arrested a suspected jewel thief who was interrupted in an apartment in Perth and fell from an icy window ledge while fleeing the scene. Officers found him in agony below the apartment's open window and, suspecting a broken hip, took him to the Perth Royal Infirmary. Doctors X-raying his hip noticed the stolen jewels in his stomach. Apparently he had swallowed them before he was apprehended, said a police source, adding, "It's now a case of waiting by his bed with a bucket just in case things start to move."

Kenneth Bartelson, 35, and Eugene Allen, 29, were arrested while trying to rob the residents of an apartment in Pawtucket, R.I., because Allen was acting as the lookout, even though he is legally blind. He not only failed to see the police coming, but also confided details of the crime to the victims' neighbor, thinking it was Bartelson.

Mark Diaz, 21, was arrested after he tried to buy $83 worth of groceries at a Safeway in Fairbanks, Alaska, with a check belonging to Eric Sleiga. Earlier that day, Sleiga, an employee of the store, had notified cashiers that his backpack, with a checkbook inside, had been stolen.

A 44-year-old Norwegian burglar took cash and perfume from an Oslo apartment, unaware that it was equipped with 17 video cameras taping an around-the-clock reality television show called "Baren," or "The Bar." Staff members cornered the suspect as he was making his escape, according to the program's editor, Vebjoern Ytreberg, who noted, "Some of the participants said they almost felt sorry for him because he was so unlucky or stupid."

Akira Ishiguro, 38, the owner of a clothing store in Yokohama, posted a sign warning people not to enter without buying something. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that when a 26-year-old woman didn't buy a coat she had handled, Ishiguro shouted at her, "Didn't you see the sign outside? Do you take me for a fool?" He then forced her to get on her knees and apologize and coerced her into handing over 3,000 yen ($27.12) -- all she had on her -- as a down payment for the 42,000-yen coat.

The Jesus Video Project of Texas announced it hopes to convert 4 million Texans to Christianity this year by mailing an 83-minute video about Jesus to all 8.4 million homes in the state. The mass mailing will cost $21 million.

Devout Hindus who are unable to make it to this year's Kumbh Mela festival at Allahabad, where as many as 70 million pilgrims are expected to bathe in the Ganges River, can cleanse their souls on the World Wide Web. All they need, according to the founders of the webduniya.com Web site, is a tub of water and Internet access.

Waheeb Hamouda, 60, was keeping a sheep on the flat roof of his three-story apartment building in Alexandria, Egypt, and fattening it for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice. While feeding the sheep, it charged him, pushing him off the roof. Hamouda was taken to the hospital. The Associated Press reported he remained in serious condition, but Reuters news agency said he died.

A lie-detecting telephone has been unveiled in Turkey. The phone contains an electronic device that notes changes in the caller's voice frequency. A red light flashes if the person is lying, a yellow light indicates take the words with caution, and a green light means you can believe what you hear. Tulay Ispirli, manager of a shop in Izmir that sells the phones for $159, said customers at first doubt the phone's abilities, "but once they try it, they enjoy it."

Peace Corps volunteer Natalie Waldinger, 24, of Huntington, N.Y., died in Tanzania's Ruaha National Park while photographing an elephant. The animal trampled her after it became enraged by the clicking sounds of her camera.

When a Gemini Air Cargo plane developed engine problems while taking off from an airport in Angola's Lunda North province, it attempted to re-land but crashed. All seven people on board the plane escaped unhurt, but a man who had stopped to relieve himself next to the runway was killed.

Jose Chiu, 34, an American Airlines flight attendant aboard a flight that made an emergency landing in Miami, was killed, even though the landing itself was uneventful, when he forced open a door before the cabin had been depressurized and was thrown 40 feet or more from the plane.

New Jersey's Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra was concluding its New Year's Eve concert with Glenn Miller's "In the Mood," which featured a trumpet solo by James M. Tuozzolo, 57. "He stood, played the solo flawlessly and then sat down," conductor John Peter Holly said. "A few seconds later, he dropped the trumpet and fell on the floor." He died of an apparent heart attack.

Prosperity in California's Silicon Valley forced the mayor of San Carlos to quit. Dave Buckmaster, who was born and raised in the town of 28,500, said he and his wife, an elementary school teacher, were moving to Sacramento because they could not afford to keep living in a town where the median home price is $780,000.

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

  • All the strange news that's fit to print.

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