Stranger than Fiction 

Curses, foiled again

After robbing a bank in Cornwall Bridge, Conn., Jason Durant, 32, tumbled down a steep embankment behind the bank, crashing into a snowplow blade at the bottom and breaking a leg in several places. The Waterbury Republican-American reported he also lost his gun and the stolen money, leaving him with only $2. He managed to reach his getaway car and drove to the hospital, where the medical staff, having been given a description of the robber and his likely injuries, called the police.

Colorado follies

Police in Boulder said a restaurant employee was washing the restaurant's windows when a man walked up behind him holding a knife and demanded money. The employee brandished a squeegee, and the would-be robber fled.

Amanda Watkins, 26, told police in Greeley that when she told a 3-year-old boy to stop hurting a cat, the boy's mother attacked and beat her with a child's metal scooter, then fled.

Felonious congrats

El Paso, Texas, schools superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was celebrating the schools' performance on state test scores by giving principals high-fives. When Barron Elementary School principal Mary Helen Lechuga didn't raise her hand, Garcia tapped her on the head instead. The El Paso Times reported that Lechuga responded by filing a police complaint that Garcia assaulted her, saying she felt pain and feared what he might do next.

Collect call

While more than 100 people on foot and in the air searched for a missing 62-year-old man in Carroll County, Ohio, Sheriff Dale Williams said he tried to use the man's cell phone signal to locate him. He told the Carrollton Times-Reporter that when he called Verizon to activate the signal, the operator refused because the missing man's bill was overdue and said that the sheriff's department would have to pay at least $20 of the unpaid bill. After some disagreement, Williams agreed to pay. As he was making arrangements, however, deputies discovered the man, unconscious and unresponsive, in an area where there is a Verizon cell phone tower.

Love's a blast

Iraqi veterans of the U.S. invasion of their country are taking advantage of their bomb-making skills to get back at anyone who blocks their path to true love. Spurned suitors have set off six small bombs in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad in the past year, according to the New York Times, which reported that many former insurgents have experience making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and a stash of TNT. "These guys, they face any problem with their girlfriends, family, anyone, and they're making this kind of IED," said Capt. Nabil Abdul Hussein of the Iraqi national police, adding that the so-called "love IEDs" so far have caused no reported deaths or injuries. "Usually they're putting them in front of the doors of their houses, not to kill, but to scare them."

In one case, police said a Shiite man, who wanted to marry the daughter of his family's Sunni neighbor but was rejected, planted a bomb in front of his own house and accused the neighbors of being Sunni terrorists, No arrests were made, and the bomb turned out to be a dud. Then the man planted a second bomb, which exploded and damaged both houses. The Shiite family was forced to flee after receiving death threats, but as they left, they sprayed the Sunni family's house with automatic-weapons fire.

Hoppy landscapers

British gardeners have begun using wallabies to keep their lawns trimmed. All that prospective owners need, according to the Times, are at least a half-acre of land, a lot of grass and a tall fence. The high-hopping marsupials, natives of the Australian outback, are being bred in England, where the biggest supplier is Waveney Wildlife, which bred wallabies for 25 years, mostly for zoos and animal parks, Five years ago, owner Trevor Lay started getting inquiries from individuals. To keep up with demand, he now breeds 35 wallabies a year, but said, "If I had 100, I could easily get rid of them." Wallabies cost from $237 for a male to $1,108 for a female. Albino wallabies sell for $791 for a male, $1,583 for a female.

Body work

New York City dermatologists reported a surge in tattoo laser removals, which they attribute to people worried about making the right impression when they apply for a job. "People can't afford to handicap themselves because of a tattoo in a tight job market," Dr. Jeffrey Rand, founder of Manhattan's Tattoo Removal Center, told the New York Post.

The newspaper reported that erasing a tattoo requires monthly laser treatments to break up the pigment dye under the skin. Each treatment takes about two minutes and costs at least $200. A small tattoo can take a year to remove. Dermatologists the Post surveyed said at least 25 percent of tattoo-removal clients are erasing the name of an ex.

A 31-year-old British man showed up at a London clinic with gross abnormality and ulceration of the penis as a result of using a high-pressure pneumatic grease gun to inject oils under the skin to give himself more confidence sexually. "The girth of the man's penis continued to grow, and he was no longer able to achieve an erection," urologist Manit Arya said after providing "urgent treatment." BBC News reported men injecting themselves with Vaseline and other oils to increase the girth of the penis is common in Asia and that the trend is catching on in Great Britain and the United States.

Ghost visitors

After the starvation death of a disabled teenager in Philadelphia and subsequent charges against her case worker and a supervisor for making "ghost visits" to the family's home, federal authorities charged four social workers and four founders of the company responsible for making home visits to needy families. The company, MultiEthnic Behavioral Services, had a $1 million-a-year contract with the city. "At some point," U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid said, "they realized they could get paid for doing nothing."


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