Dispatches > The Buzz

Quick takes

Quick takes

Issue: "John Kerry's dream," March 13, 2004

Wrong number

In his truck and being chased by three other drivers, Kevin Richard Vowell of Maryville, Tenn., didn't find a very sympathetic voice when he called 911 late last month. The reason: The three drivers were sheriff's deputies. (Mr. Vowell allegedly had sped away after a deputy pulled him over for driving erratically.) "The dispatcher advised him to stop, telling him, 'You're only making it worse,'" said sheriff's spokeswoman Marian Bryant. The deputies finally caught Mr. Vowell and forced him off the road.

Misuse of power

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Warning to those visiting Germany: Be careful of where you plug in your laptop. German prosecutors late last month investigated a student for "removing electrical energy" after he plugged his laptop into a socket at a train station, using about a quarter of a cent's worth of power.

Police officers in Kassel at first suspected that the student had stolen the laptop, but he was able to prove that he owned it. He seems to have had no answer, though, for the apparently unauthorized use of power. "The officers had no choice. They must investigate if there is suspicion of an offense," said Kassel prosecutor Manfred Jung. "However, these proceedings will most certainly be stopped."

Long in the tooth

Some gamblers lose their shirts; a German gambler reportedly lost his teeth. The Reuters news service reports that a man in Dortmund contacted local police after another Dortmunder took his dentures as collateral on a $186 gambling debt. Police persuaded the winning gambler to return the dentures to the losing gambler, who promised to settle the debt. A police spokesman said the denture wearer was relieved: "He was afraid he might have to live off liquid food for the next few days."

Conscientious crook

As a rule, identity thieves don't keep records, but police in Mount Carmel, Tenn., say Debra Janan Goins is an exception. Ms. Goins allegedly spent over $1,000 with a stolen checkbook-and carefully recorded each transaction in the checkbook register. Said Mount Carmel policeman Will Mullins,"I guess she wanted to make sure she didn't bounce any of the victim's checks."

Message in a bottle

Cornered in a bar with a stolen bottle of wine, a German thief last week decided to drink the loot instead of give it up-and immediately began violently retching. The problem: After several robberies, the bar's landlady had replaced the wine with vinegar. A police spokesman told the Reuters news service, "I guess he thought, 'I'd better make the most of this' and drank the stuff."

Lost cause

Residents of Lost have found a solution to a rash of stolen road signs: Change the small Scottish village's name. Lost has had to replace seven road signs identifying the town in the last seven years. (The sign simply says, "Lost.") "Many people want to have their photograph taken by it looking bewildered," local official Bruce Luffman told the Reuters news service, "and every so often it gets taken." The town's new name will be Lost Farm, which Mr. Luffman hopes will clear up another problem: "Deliveries get lost because they've got no idea where 'Lost' is, and it's very confusing."

Sleeping on the job

A Dutch burglar apparently needed a break during a nighttime robbery last week: The burglar decided to take a nap on a couch in the Rotterdam home he was robbing, reports the Reuters news service, only to be found and subdued by the homeowners' son. A Rotterdam police spokesman questioned the robber's street smarts: "It's not very smart to fall asleep in the house you are trying to burgle."


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