Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "John Paul II: In memoriam," Oct. 25, 2003

Returning to the scene of the crime

Two Florida men who tried to rob a convenience store this month made it very easy for police to find them. First, they left their weapon and ID at the store. Then they came back to retrieve them. The incident occurred when clerk Marie Blanco carded suspect Winston Lamar after he and his friend, Drew Nash, brought beer and a hot dog to the counter of the Stuart, Fla., Speedway store. Ms. Blanco noticed a firearm tucked into Mr. Lamar's waistband and asked if it was real. He said it was a BB gun and slid it into the protective money tray. When Ms. Blanco grabbed it, the pair fled with the beer and hot dog. But Mr. Lamar wanted his gun back. He called the store, and Ms. Blanco falsely told him that the police had left and that he could return for the gun and ID. When he did, two deputies arrested him and Mr. Nash. Martin County Sheriff's Sgt. Jenell Atlas told the Palm Beach Post that the young men should find another vocation: "This one does not seem to be working out for them."

Killer's compensation

Last July, Jonathon Russell went to his job at a manufacturing plant in Jefferson City, Mo., punched his time card, and began shooting co-workers, killing three and injuring five. After a shootout with police, he then shot and killed himself. Now his mother wants worker's compensation, saying he died on company time. The Modine Manufacturing Company is refusing to pay Nina Tichelkamp-Russell's death benefit claim, and a judge may have to settle the dispute. Ms. Tichelkamp-Russell says she lived with her son in a Missouri trailer park and relied on his income: "I don't feel I should have to pay for the actions that he chose to do."

Miami vice

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No one will accuse Daniel Gallagher of diligence. The 46-year-old Miamian, who later told police he was "too ugly to get a job," grew tired after allegedly robbing two banks this month and was nabbed by authorities when he sat down for a break. Mr. Gallagher allegedly stole $100 each from two downtown Miami banks, threatening to set off a bomb in a bag he carried. Police found only a can of beer in the bag.

Tampa buccaneers

Regulators in Tampa, Fla., have found a menace that they intend to stop. The perp: Daniel Steiner, owner of a limousine company that charges too little for some trips. The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission this month placed Mr. Steiner on probation because he doesn't always charge the legal minimum of $40 per limo trip. (Insurers negotiated a special rate with Mr. Steiner for patients who make frequent visits to doctors.) The county's rule is meant to protect the taxi industry.

Tooth trackers

A burglar's dentures have helped Indiana police take a bite out of crime. Paul D. Lee apparently stumbled and lost his false teeth while breaking into a home south of Muncie, Ind. Police searched the home for evidence, but it was a relative of the homeowner who later found the dentures. State law requires dentures to bear the owner's name underneath the gum, so police were able to quickly track the teeth to Mr. Lee.

Bad call

Jeremy Lepianka apparently started believing his own gag. After spending two years impersonating an Onondaga County (N.Y.) Sheriff's deputy, stopping speeding drivers, and lecturing them about the law, Mr. Lepianka's ruse ended when a driver sped away-and Mr. Lepianka called Syracuse police for backup. Syracuse police spokesman Joe Cecile said he had never seen an impersonator go so far: "He had to know he was going to get caught."

UNfit parents?

Unlike the United States, Canada signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Canadian officials must regularly report to Geneva-based bureaucrats. This month's ruling comes as Canada's Supreme Court considers a law that lets parents and teachers apply "reasonable force" to discipline children. A recent poll shows most Canadians oppose corporal punishment by teachers, but they are evenly split on parental spanking.

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