Hubcap thief targets police vehicles 

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Stranger Than Fiction

Curses, foiled again

Johnny Deleon, 20, was thwarted in his attempt to steal hubcaps from cars parked outside a restaurant in Harris County, Texas, where law officers were holding a retirement party. After an officer who spotted Deleon confronted him, about 30 deputies inside the restaurant rushed outside to assist. Noting that Deleon failed to notice the parking lot held "a multitude of marked and unmarked police vehicles," Assistant Chief Tim Cannon commented, "Unfortunately for him, his zest for thievery overrode any form of common sense, which placed him straight into the hands of law enforcement's finest." (Houston Chronicle)

While leading police on a high-speed chase on the Massachusetts Turnpike, two men in a stolen minivan struck another vehicle from behind and then crashed into the median. The men fled on foot, but driver Vini Bunted Proeung, 18, was arrested when he tried to run through a state police barracks in Charlton. (Worcester's Telegram & Gazette)

Drinking-class hero

After six adults and two children fled from a burning house in Columbus, Ga., Walter Serpit returned to rescue some valuables. "Being an alcoholic, I was trying to get my beer out," Serpit said after escaping the flames with several cans of his favorite brew. (Columbus's WTVM-TV)

Failure of the week

After Yamkala Sapkota, 31, failed her driving test for the fourth time, despite having taken more than 90 lessons, she set herself on fire. The Nepalese immigrant admitted recklessly endangering the lives of others, but a Scottish court set her free after hearing that the cost of her driving lessons had placed a "significant" financial burden on her family. (Britain's Daily Mail)

Firearms follies

Concerned about the spread of plastic handguns made from 3D printers, officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives produced several versions to test. While agents were testing one model, made from a kind of plastic called Visijet, it blew up in their faces. (The Huffington Post)

Sheriff's deputies investigating reports of shots fired in Lockhart, S.C., said a 19-year-old woman told them that her finger was "blown off" when she tried to stop an 18-year-old man from killing himself with a shotgun during an argument. She explained that the gun went off accidentally while she tried to pull the muzzle away. (Greenville's WHNS-TV)

A 65-year-old man shot out a wall at South Dakota's Bismarck Airport while trying to disarm his gun so he could check it. Police Sgt. Mark Buschena estimated the damage at between $1,000 and $2,000 but said no charges would be filed because the gunshot was accidental. (The Bismarck Tribune)

Dale Poulin, 31, was showing off his .270-caliber hunting rifle while visiting friends in Waterville, Maine, when he "dropped the rifle, and it accidentally discharged," he explained after the gunshot blew off part of his face. Police Chief Joseph Massey said Poulin believed that the rifle wasn't loaded. (Waterville's Morning Sentinel)

Chicago police who arrested Tiara M. Paul, 20, said they put her in a police cruiser, but while they waited for a female officer to arrive to conduct a search, Paul tried to hide a concealed handgun in the cruiser. She accidentally shot herself in the back. (Chicago Sun-Times)

After arguing with her boyfriend earlier in the day, Adele Bing, 52, said she heard "banging" and "kicking" at the door of her home in Winter Haven, Fla. Fearing the boyfriend had returned to carry out his threat to kill her, she armed herself with a .22-caliber pistol, opened the door and fired, shooting the visitor: her 25-year-old daughter. Explaining the incident was a "fucked up accident," she told police, "How could I look my grandkids in their face and say I killed their mother? Y'all can lock me away for good." (Tampa Bay's WTSP-TV)

Woe is us

Biologists studying the speed of mammal extinction on islands created when the Thai government built a dam across the Khlong Saeng river 36 years ago reported in the journal Science that on most of the islands in the 60-square-mile reservoir, all the original native species have vanished. They've been replaced by Malaysian field rats. "Our results should be a warning," Luke Gibson of the National University of Singapore said. "This is the trend that the world is going in." (The New York Times)

Intruder alert

An animal control officer responding to a report of a bat inside a home in Arlington, Va., found that the intruder was actually a sweatband. (The Washington Post)

Shadow land

Residents of the Norwegian town of Rjukan, which sits in the shadow of surrounding mountains for six months of the year, saw the winter sun for the first time after three, computer-controlled, 183-square-foot mirrors were placed on one of the mountains, 1,500 feet above the town square. "Before, when it was a fine day, you would see that the sky was blue, and you knew that the sun was shining, but you couldn't quite see it," local tourist official Karin Roe said. "It was very frustrating." (Associated Press)

Litigation nation

After police in Tulsa, Okla., charged Rodney Rotert with helping steal a 1967 Camaro worth nearly $100,000, he pleaded no contest and received a deferred sentence. Then he filed a lawsuit, claiming the car is his. Police said Rotert changed the car's vehicle identification number, then lied to get a title for it, but Rotert argued that since his title matches the car's VIN, it's his. (Tulsa' KOTV-TV)

While fighting a house fire in St. Petersburg, Fla., fire Lt. Lawrence Wilson fell on the porch and injured himself. Citing pain and suffering, hospital bills, legal bills and emotional distress, Wilson sued homeowner Carl Gregory, who he claimed caused the injury by installing "slippery tile on the front stairs." (Tampa Bay Times)

Pity payoff

Former University of California-Davis police Lt. John Pike, who was suspended and later resigned after pepper-spraying protestors demonstrating against a tuition increase, was awarded $38,055 in workers' compensation for "psychiatric injury" and "continuous trauma" resulting from the incident. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Drone on

Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, 49, unveiled a working prototype of a drone that he predicted would pave the way for using drones to deliver packages in as little as 30 minutes. The unmanned aerial vehicle uses a claw to scoop up packages at Amazon fulfillment centers and transport them to customers. Appearing on CBS's 60 Minutes, Bezos said the technology could be fully implemented within five years. (The Washington Post)


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