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Stranger Than Fiction 

Curses, foiled again

Police charged Brent Nathan Frick, 26, with stealing a safe containing $69,000 in gold coins from a home in Coopersburg, Pa., after a witness who knew Frick saw him bust open the safe in a nearby parking lot. Allentown's Morning Call reported the witness noticed some of the papers in the safe had another person's name and notified police. State troopers found four more stolen safes in Frick's motel room.

Four thieves broke into 16 boats at a marina in Cambridgeshire, England, and made off with luxury electronics items, two electric generators, a large amount of alcohol and a captain's cap. The Daily Times attributed a quick arrest to their attempting their getaway in a flat-bottomed punt boat with a top speed of 3 mph. Police on the riverbank used night-vision goggles to locate the pole-pushing pirates, aged 17 to 26.

Phone tag

Orlando hotel guest Lisa Kantorski answered the phone and told her husband Mark, a deputy sheriff, it was the desk clerk informing them of a gas leak in their room. Relaying the caller's instructions, she told her husband to smash the window with a toilet tank, break the mirror on the wall, use a lamp to bash in the wall to reach the trapped man on the other side and throw the mattress out the second-floor window. The Orlando Sentinel reported the Kantorskis were about to jump to safety when Hilton Garden Inn manager Samir Patel knocked on their door in response to a noise complaint. He informed them there was no gas leak and pegged the damage at $5,000. "When I broke the window, I got suspicious," Mark explained. "It didn't seem right, but Lisa was panicking, so I continued."

The Sentinel noted this was another in a rash of phone pranks across the country. Among the others:

• A caller posing as a sprinkler-company employee persuaded an Arkansas motel worker to cause more than $50,000 in damage as part of a "test" of the motel's emergency alarms.

• An employee of a Nebraska Hampton Inn believed a caller who said to pull the fire alarm, then called back and said the only way to silence the alarm was to break the lobby windows. The employee sought help from a nearby trucker, who drove his rig through the front door.

Plot lines

An unidentified driver was seriously injured after he lost control of his sport utility vehicle in front of the police station in Penn Hills, Pa., and sheared a utility pole that was cemented into the ground. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that when repair crews arrived to restore power, a hose burst on one of the trucks, spilling automotive fluid onto the roadway. A hazardous-materials team was called to clean up the spill, but a worker using a jackhammer ruptured a water line near the pole. Another crew had to be dispatched to repair the water line, prompting police Chief Howard Burton to announce the road would be closed most of the day.

After his arrest for hitting a car in Lockport, N.Y., Nicholas Sparks, 25, admitted he'd been talking and texting on his cell phone at the same time while driving a flatbed truck with two motorcycles on the bed and two other vehicles in tow. Niagara County Chief Deputy Steven Preisch told the Buffalo News that after the collision, the flatbed went through a yard and sideswiped a house, which was then hit by one of the towed vehicles. The truck continued through a privacy fence and came to a stop in a swimming pool. Homeowner Brad Kanel said cleanup took more than five hours, but the hardest part was finding a truck big enough to pull the flatbed out of the pool.

Stating the obvious

Police responding to a call of a person with a knife at a beauty pageant on Chicago's West Side, arrested Leroy Tinch, 28, one of the contestants, who the Chicago Sun-Times said resembles a woman and appears to have breast implants and a tattoo of paw prints on his chest. Police Lt. John Franklin said Tinch used a trophy to beat pageant judge, Sebastian Latta, 37, shattering his jaw in three places. "Apparently, I must have voted for the wrong person," Latta told a responding officer.

Leslie Edward Smith, 62, called 911 in Raleigh, N.C., to report having "shot this girl who's been living in my house. She won't get out, so I shot her." According to a transcript provided to the Raleigh News & Observer, Smith told the dispatcher he had put down the gun and that the victim was seriously wounded, probably dead.

"Is she beyond help?" the dispatcher asked.

"She should be," Smith answered. "I shot her point blank in the chest."

After he declined the dispatcher's request to perform CPR, the dispatcher insisted, "You got to try to help her."

"I don't want to help her. She's dead."

When the dispatcher again urged Smith try to revive the victim, Smith muttered, "This is ridiculous. I just shot her."

Fast food follies

North Korea's first fast-food restaurant opened in June, serving hamburgers (described as "minced meat and bread," topped with fermented spicy cabbage), French fries, waffles and draft beer. The newspaper Choson Sinbo added that the Samtaesong restaurant in Pyongyang plans to add hot dogs and croissants to the menu and expand to other locations.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the burgers cost $1.70, almost half the daily income of an average North Korean. Since natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy in the 1990s and caused widespread famine, North Korea has relied on foreign handouts to feed its hunger-stricken 24 million people.

An employee at a McDonald's restaurant in Aurora, Colo., said that two Denver police officers were waiting for their drive-through order when one of them, Officer Derrick Curtis Saunders, 29, grew impatient and drew his weapon. According to the allegation reported by the Denver Post after his arrest, Saunders pointed the pistol at the worker to speed up his order.

Party pooper

Authorities investigating a power surge in Lincoln, Neb., that prevented the launch of the state's new $2.9 million driver's license system blamed helium-filled Mylar balloons striking a power line. The surge knocked out the connection between the state's mainframe computer and computers at Department of Motor Vehicles satellite offices, preventing licenses from being issued for three days. "Someone who was having a good time and decided to let some balloons go was the cause," Lincoln Electric System official Russ Reno said, telling the Omaha World-Herald such balloons are hazardous to power lines and cause computers to shut down briefly and restart.

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

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