Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "2012: The Year Ahead," Jan. 14, 2012

Toxic swarm

Beachgoers near Pompano Beach, Fla., may want to stay out of the water for the time being. On Nov. 30, boaters noticed and took pictures of a giant swarm of jellyfish floating about a quarter-mile off the shore of Pompano Beach. Scientists identified the swarm as moon jellies and said the densely packed and large clump of ocean pests were being held offshore by wind. But lifeguards in the area decided to hoist a purple flag-warning swimmers and divers that a wind change could bring the toxic mass of nuisances close to the beach.

Manual override

A Florida woman learned one of the best ways to deal with carjackers: Drive a stick-shift. Police in St. Petersburg, Fla., report that a pair of carjackers commandeered a 23-year-old woman's Nissan on Dec. 2 when she stopped to pick up her boyfriend from work. The armed carjackers got the keys and started the car, but couldn't drive the Nissan's manual transmission. The car stalled and the carjackers fled on foot.

Give it back

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Taking money that doesn't belong to you is stealing. That's the message police have for motorists on Route 19 in Upper St. Clair, Pa., who apparently took advantage of an unintended money drop on Nov. 30. Police in the Western Pennsylvania town reported that the back doors of a Fidelity Courier Service van blew open, spilling more than $100,000. Officers arrived to help clean up the littered cash but were able to scoop up only about $400. A police spokesman said motorists who picked up scattered money could face theft charges if they don't return it. "This is not a free-for-all situation," police Lt. James Englert said. "Obviously, this money is ... bank property."

Hall's house

Faced with a court order to enforce an eviction in an Atlanta neighborhood, Fulton County sheriff's deputies walked into the marked house on Nov. 29. Then they walked back out and did not evict the foreclosed home's owner, 103-year-old Vinia Hall, who has lived in the house for more than 50 years. The mayor's office and a city councilman joined in an attempt to settle the dispute between Hall's grandson, who owns the house, and Deutsche Bank, which owns the mortgage note. Hall, who has lived in the home with her 84-year-old daughter, says she never feared eviction. "No, I knew that they know what they were doing," she told local TV station WSB. "God don't let them do wrong."

Fishers of men

Facing an increase in illegal motorcycle racing in city streets, police in Vietnam have turned to their cultural roots to solve the problem. Officers armed with fishing nets are now literally catching bike racers in their dragnets. A traffic police official in the Thanh Hoa province said officers lie in wait for the racing motorcyclists. As they pass, officers cast their sturdy nets into the rear wheels of the bikes, causing the wheel to be entangled and bringing the motorcycle to a stop. "Without the nets, mob racing in the province would have caused chaos by now," Luu Thien Minh, head of the Thanh Hoa police traffic unit, told The Telegraph.

Paper chase

In a way, you could say that Alabama's new immigration law is working-just perhaps not as lawmakers had foreseen. Signed into law in June, Alabama's law practically requires persons in the state from other countries to carry identity papers. But on Nov. 18, Tuscaloosa, Ala., police arrested a German Mercedes-Benz executive who accidentally left his passport in his hotel room. And on Dec. 2, a Japanese Honda executive was ticketed under provisions of the law despite showing an international drivers license, a passport, and a U.S. work permit. A judge later threw out the case against the Honda executive, but some in Alabama worry that the high-profile arrests could be bad for business in Alabama, which has aggressively pursued foreign auto manufacturers to build factories there. Mercedes employs 2,800 Alabamians and Honda more than 4,000.

Mixed up

A mugger in Chicago clearly didn't know his potential victim very well. Police say 24-year-old Anthony Miranda tried to mug a man in Chicago's Southwest Side neighborhood on Dec. 2 after asking the victim for a lighter. When the unidentified victim said he didn't have a lighter, Miranda produced a gun and ordered the victim out of the car. Once out of the car, the victim, later revealed to be a mixed-martial artist, began pummeling the surprised Miranda. While receiving his beating from the MMA fighter, Miranda accidentally shot his own leg, inflicting a serious wound to his own ankle. Once out of the hospital, Miranda will face charges of armed robbery and aggravated discharge of a firearm.


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