Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

When Walter Allen Jr. bought two Bentleys from a Houston car dealership for $458,000, he paid by signing over a $500,000 check issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. Managers at the dealership became suspicious because the Federal Reserve Bank usually uses wire transfers, not checks. They asked Allen to return later to pick up his cars, then alerted police, who confirmed the check was a fake and were waiting for Allen when he returned. (Houston Chronicle)

A man who was robbed at gunpoint outside a Subway store in Homestead, Pa., flagged down police and told them he recognized the suspect as having applied for a job at the Subway right before the robbery. "We checked with Subway, and they did have an application," Homestead Police Chief J.A. DeSimone said. Using information from the form, police arrested Kris Johnson, 18. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, WTAE-TV)

Slight provocation

Massachusetts authorities concluded that Joseph Cummings, 51, killed his pregnant girlfriend, her sister and then himself during an argument over the last name of the baby that the girlfriend, Kimberly Nguyen, 35, was carrying. "She wanted to hyphenate the name," said Steve O'Connell of the Essex district attorney's office, "and he did not." (Boston Globe)

More lead?

Officials for Publix, a supermarket chain in the Southeast, said they would ask suppliers of their reusable grocery bags to lower the lead content after the Tampa Tribune found elevated levels of the toxin in bags it tested. The Florida newspaper reported that some of the bags had enough lead that they would be considered hazardous waste if residents put them in their household trash. (The Tampa Tribune)

Taking the plunge

When a tractor-trailer caught fire after pulling over at a bridge on Interstate 65 in Hoover, Ala., the driver of a vehicle going the other way stopped to check on the truck driver. The good Samaritan jumped over a retaining wall but fell to his death. Police Capt. Jim Coker pointed out that a paramedic died at least 20 years before in the same spot when he leaped over the retaining wall to check on an accident victim and fell to his death. (The Birmingham News)

Sharon R. Glover, 55, was riding in a motor home traveling on Interstate 10 near Defuniak Springs, Fla., when she walked to the rear of the vehicle to use the restroom. She was seriously injured after she opened a door, fell out and slid 100 feet on the paved emergency lane before hitting the grass shoulder, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, which reported, "It is unknown if the passenger opened the wrong door or leaned on the door." (Northwest Florida Daily News)

Above suspicion

The Baltimore City Health Department issued its first environmental citation for repeat violation of the city's trans fat ban. The offender was a restaurant named Healthy Choice. (WBAL-TV)

Hug those trees

Crime occurs less in neighborhoods with big trees and more at homes with small ones, according to a U.S. Forest Service study using crime data from Portland, Ore. Forester Geoffrey Donovan explained that large trees might signal to crooks that a neighborhood is well cared for, making it more likely that criminals will be caught, whereas small trees can provide hiding places for criminals and obstruct their illicit activities. (Associated Press)

Under their noses

Deputies investigating a possible break-in at a museum in Hillsboro, Ore., stumbled on their suspect when a search dog followed the scent from a large hole in the wall of the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals for about half a mile and became "very interested in a particular piece of ground," Washington County sheriff's Sgt. Gregory Thompson said. "The dog then bit the ground that in turn cried out in pain." The dog's handler realized Gregory Liascos, 36, was hiding at his feet, dressed head to toe in a moss-like camouflage outfit, known as a ghillie suit. (Associated Press)

First things first

Miguel Soto III, 25, was leaving a deli in New Haven, Conn., after buying a sandwich, when two men shot him in the leg and groin. The victim told police he went home and ate his sandwich before asking his father for a ride to the hospital to have his wounds treated. (The New Haven Register)

Detroit police reported that before two men attacked and robbed an 85-year-old woman who hired them to rake her leaves, they first raked the victim's entire front yard, neatly bagged the leaves and put them on the curb. (WDIV-TV)

Fat-cat justice

Facing felony charges after striking a bicyclist from behind with his 2010 Mercedes Benz sedan in Eagle, Colo., and then speeding away, Martin Joel Erzinger, 52, had the charges reduced to misdemeanor traffic violations. Court records indicate Erzinger drove some distance after running down the cyclist before stopping at a parking lot, where he called the Mercedes auto assistance service to report damage to his vehicle and request a tow. He did not notify the police about the cyclist, who was seriously injured. Erzinger is a financial manager for "ultra high net worth individuals, their families and foundations," according to his biography, and would have to publicly disclose felony charges. "Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it," District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said of the reduced charges, noting that Erzinger is willing to pay restitution. "When you're talking about restitution, you don't want to take away his ability to pay." (Vail Daily)

Queue clues

The average British adult can tolerate waiting in line only 10 minutes and 42 seconds before becoming upset, according to an online survey by Britain's Payments Council. Respondents over age 55 became impatient more than three minutes before younger people, but those under 35 were more likely to take out their frustrations on those around them. Supermarket lines topped the list of hated waits, followed by post-office lines and airport check-in and security lines. Two-thirds of the respondents said the most irritating part of lines is people in front of them who dawdle. (Reuters)

Don't tread on me

Tajikistan's President Emomali Rakhmon announced plans to build the world's tallest flagpole. Scheduled for completion in March, the 541-foot pole will be located in Dushanbe, the capital. The current tallest flagpole, 531 feet, is in Azerbaijan. (Associated Press)


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