Holey tires ruin his getaway 

Stranger Than Fiction

Curses, foiled again

Casey Hueser, 30, pulled into a driveway, left the car running and entered the house, police in St. Joseph, Missouri, said. When homeowner Marti Wilson returned, she saw the car, removed the ignition keys and slashed the tires. She confronted the burglar, who regained the keys during a struggle and drove off. Wilson called police. "His front left tire had a big hole it, and apparently, with my description of the vehicle, and the fact that he wasn't moving really fast, and then they found a bunch of the rubber out in the road," she said, "so he kind of left a trail." (Kansas City's WDAF-TV)

Tyler Lankford, 21, entered a bakery with a loaded and cocked revolver, pointed it at the 58-year-old clerk and demanded money, according to police in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. The clerk emptied the register, but when the robber picked up the money, he put the gun on the counter. The clerk grabbed it and chased away the robber, whom police identified from surveillance video. (Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV)


Verlin Sexton, 48, told authorities investigating a fire that destroyed his garage and damaged his house in Fremont, Ohio, that it started while he was using spray paint and a lighter as a torch to kill a mouse. He also said he went to the garage to smoke, noticed black smoke filling the garage and saw flames in the corner, so he ran to get a pan of water; when he returned, the fire was out of control. Then he said he saw flames in boxes and tried to kick the fire out, but it spread. He was charged with intentionally setting the fire. (Fremont's The News-Gazette)

Scott Kemery, 44, told authorities investigating a car fire in Eastport, New York, that he believed his rental car was filled with bedbugs, so he doused the interior with rubbing alcohol. Confident it worked, he got back in the car and lit a cigarette, igniting the alcohol. He fled the vehicle but suffered first- and second-degree burns. The rental car was destroyed, and intense heat from the fire badly damaged two other cars. (Newsday)

Mohammed Almarri, 21, illegally entered his neighbor's apartment in Tampa, Florida, forced the owner to retreat to his 30th-floor balcony, put the owner's wallet in a microwave oven and turned it on, according to fire officials who responded to a report of a fire and a man trapped on a high-rise balcony. The victim told them Almarri also took his collection of lighters, piled them on the floor next to a small electric heater and turned the heater on. No fire was found, but Almarri was charged with first-degree arson. (Tampa Bay Times)

Tourist traps

Now that affluent Chinese have become big-spending travelers, the China National Tourist Administration announced it would document "uncivilized" behavior by travelers abroad who have "tarnished" China's image and need to "learn a lesson." Inappropriate behavior includes violating customs, destroying public infrastructure and historic sites, causing disturbances on public transport and participating in gambling and prostitution. The agency said it would compile reports from local tourism bureaus, media reports and the general public and keep records for up to two years. It didn't specify the nature of any punishment. In February, Thai authorities issued thousands of Chinese-language etiquette manuals after Chinese tourists were caught drying underwear at a temple, kicking a bell at a sacred shrine and washing their feet in a public restroom. (Reuters)

Problem solved

Authorities concerned with large numbers of boarded-up homes in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area because of widespread foreclosures launched a pilot program to disguise the vacant houses by installing vinyl sheets with painted doors and windows over the plywood. The program aims to upgrade the aesthetic condition of the buildings to reduce vandalism and improve nearby property values. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Officials in Lee County, Florida, proposed cutting down 40 palm trees along the narrow median of a Fort Myers boulevard, citing safety concerns. A vehicle could run off the road and hit a tree, resulting in damage, injury and a possible lawsuit against the county, according to some officials, including county commissioner Cecil Pendergrass. Some residents insist the trees add more safety than danger by defining curves in the road and preventing head-on collisions. Even if the trees are removed, the county has no plans to remove light poles that share the median with the trees. (Fort Myers' WBBH-TV)

Orthographical folly

When the Minnesota Department of Transportation replaced signs marking the town of Lindström, it removed the umlaut, twin dots over the "o." It subsequently rejected town officials' request to restore the umlaut, citing a rule that names in road signs contain only standard letters. The town said the umlaut honors its Swedish roots and had been on the signs until 2012, when the state removed them for road construction. Gov. Mark Dayton intervened, calling the rule "nonsensical" and ordering the umlauts restored immediately, "even if I have to drive to Lindström and paint the umlauts on the city limit signs myself." (The New York Times)


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