Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "The plots thicken," Jan. 12, 2008

Shopped and dropped

Management for a Wal-Mart in Lilburn, Ga., took a dim view of one woman's marathon shopping spree. They called the cops after discovering that an unidentified 70-year-old woman had spent three days at the 24-hour retail megastore sleeping in aisles and eating at the in-store Blimpie amid the Christmas shopping blitz-all unbeknownst to store officials until an employee grew wise to the situation about 72 hours into the spree. According to WSB-TV in Atlanta, when store officials questioned the woman, she simply claimed, "I'm shopping." Local police made certain the woman paid for her items before escorting her home.

Pirates hooked

Avast, ye maties. That's the message to all would-be pirates after the first pirating attempt in the British Isles in nearly 200 years was easily foiled by deckhands on a cargo vessel near the mouth of the River Mersey in Liverpool. Two men boarded the vessel in search of loot but were quickly confronted by the crew, who asked the rascals for identification. The men then made for a quick exit. One was caught by deckhands and turned over to authorities; the other escaped. Dormant since 1820 in the United Kingdom, piracy remains a problem globally, especially in lawless waters off the coast of Somalia and through the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Search and seizure

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When mall security happened upon Larry DiSalvo wandering through the parking garages at the Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg, Fla., he thought they were coming to help him find his car. Instead, the security guards accused the 57-year-old retiree of casing the lot looking for a car to steal. DiSalvo told the St. Petersburg Times he had been searching for his white 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis he parked amidst about 6,000 other cars on Dec. 22 when security guards approached him. Mall security detained him until police arrived, but found no reason to arrest the lost man. "If this could happen to me, God forbid, it could happen to your grandmother," DiSalvo told the Times. "It's just ridiculous. I'm as clean as the fresh-driven snow. That's verifiable." Mall officials don't buy his explanation, though: They banned DiSalvo forever from mall property.

A quarter saved...

Paul Brant didn't just metaphorically break the piggy bank to buy his new Dodge Ram half-ton pickup truck. The 70-year-old Frankfort, Ind., resident paid for the $25,000 new truck with change he had collected since 1994, when he bought another truck with spare change he collected from using vending machines at his Chrysler auto plant workplace in Kokomo, Ind.

Lawsuit proof

If David Pfalher of Allentown, Pa., thinks he can get anything out of a lawsuit against 8-year-old Vail, Colo., native Scott Swimm, he may have forgotten one thing: trial by jury. The 60-year-old Pfalher claimed in court documents that the boy caused a skiing accident during his vacation to Vail that resulted in a serious shoulder injury. In the lawsuit, Pfalher claimed the bill for the injury could possibly exceed $75,000 when expenses for lost wages, vacation time, and reimbursements for medical care provided by his wife are included. But Scott's parents don't think any jury would rule against a child. They say the collision was minor and note that just after the accident, Pfalher grabbed their son, cursed him out, and threatened to sue, according to the Rocky Mountain News. "Who in the world sues a child?" mother Susan Swimm said. "It just boggles my mind every day."

Diesel alarm

A car thief in southwestern England had second thoughts about his heist when he checked the rearview mirror. Brixham resident Karen Griggs left the keys in the ignition of her Toyota SUV, and an unidentified man broke in and began to drive the car away. That's when the perpetrator apparently saw Diesel, Griggs' 120-pound Great Dane, rustling in the back seat. According to police, the perpetrator halted the car upon spotting the dog, which stands 6 feet tall on its hind legs, and fled the scene. "I'd love to have seen the look on his face when he saw Diesel," Karen's husband, Nick, told the Times of London. "He must have got the shock of his life. There's no alarm, but who needs one when you've got the Hound of the Baskervilles in your back seat?"

Boy detective

An 11-year-old Australian took on the mantle of detective to solve a playground crime spree that teachers and administrators didn't stop. For three days in November, Harry Cordaiy listened to classmates tell stories of how their lunch money kept disappearing out of bags and purses during recess. "The teachers said 'wait, wait, wait' and they weren't taking any action," Harry told the Sydney Morning Herald. But the boy had a plan. After having about $15 taken from his own bag, Harry rigged a mousetrap that used an Australian five-dollar bill as bait and left the snapping arm of the trap wet with green food coloring. When he returned from recess on the fourth day to check the trap, he saw the bill was missing. "Everybody was running around seeing who had green on their fingers," Harry said. School officials caught one boy green-handed and were able to talk confessions out of two others.

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