Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "Praying for rain," Aug. 11, 2012

Thousands per gallon

Ray Crockett thought he was getting a deal when he pulled his car into a Mapco gas station reputed to have some of the cheapest unleaded in Nashville-at $2.93 per gallon. Then, he checked his bank statement. His receipt from the filling station indicated he was charged $30 for the July 6 fill-up, but bank records showed his debit card was billed $84,522.54. After calling Citibank, a service representative confirmed to him that the bank had indeed paid $84,522.54 to the gas station, leaving his account more than $80,000 overcharged. Worse still, the service station claimed it never received the overpayment, meaning Crockett lost access to his banking account for six days until the dispute was finally resolved. Mapco, which according to local reports has overcharged 16 people for gas, later accepted blame for keying in the wrong numbers.

Burglar bagged

Police in southwestern Pennsylvania familiar with the story of Hansel and Gretel didn't have much trouble finding a burglary suspect. Washington, Pa., police say they arrested 21-year-old Benjamin Sickles after following a trail of empty potato chip bags from a Subway restaurant where earlier on July 5 authorities say someone broke in and stole nine bags of chips. According to police, the burglar broke a glass door before trying to get cash from the register. Failing that, the suspect allegedly grabbed as many chip bags as he could carry before trudging home. Officers arrested Sickles when his bag trail led officers to discover him and his badly cut hand.

A treasure upstairs

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It's the type of find that people dream of. An Ohio man digging through his grandfather's attic unearthed a soot-covered cardboard box containing century-old baseball cards worth an estimated $3 million. Karl Kissner of Defiance, Ohio, made the find earlier this year while administrating the estate of his late aunt. Kissner's grandparents lived in the home until their death, when his pack-rat aunt took it over. Not knowing the value of the card collection, Kissner sent a sample to the Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which specializes in such items. The collection, found to be in nearly pristine shape wrapped and bundled in twine inside the box, was part of a 1910 series likely distributed to Kissner's grandfather, a butcher, as part of a promotional deal with a candy company. Inside the collection were cards of Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, and other hall-of-famers. "We guess he stuck them in the attic and forgot about them," Kissner said. "They remained there frozen in time."

Loot chute

Angele Hardman of Sandy, Utah, allegedly had an elaborate plan to pilfer and then pawn a ring from a jeweler. According to police, Hardman visited the jewelry section of a local Macy's to try on an engagement ring. According to store employees, the 38-year-old claimed she couldn't get the ring off her finger. When a store employee turned away to get help, Hardman quickly slipped off the ring and pulled a cheaply made replica out of her pocket, informing the attendant she'd managed to slide it off. Wise to the scheme, the employee recognized the fake and called security. But after searching Hardman for the real ring-and not finding it-authorities released her. Only later in the police investigation did Hardman reveal how she made the ring disappear: She swallowed it and waited for the "natural digestive process" to take its course before pawning it.

Charley's angles

A Charlton, Mass., resident will soon be out a few thousand dollars after the city ordered her to erect a fence to stop her Corgi from herding passing joggers and walkers. After complaints stretching back to October when Charley the Corgi was just five months old, the city's selectmen ordered owner Cynthia Anderson to put up a suitable fence to curb the dog's herding instinct. Anderson, who is complying with the order, says the fence will set her back $4,000.

Car and driver

More than four decades after reporting it stolen, Texas resident Bob Russell finally found his beloved 1967 Austin Healey 3000 sports coupe-for sale on eBay. Russell says his Healey was stolen in 1970 when he lived in Philadelphia. Ever since eBay became popular, he's been searching for his long-lost prized possession. So when he spotted a 1967 Healey for sale on eBay in May with a matching vehicle identification number, he pounced, calling the dealer. "I hate to sound indelicate, but you're selling a stolen car," Russell told a representative with the Beverly Hills Car Club, which posted the ad. But despite having the original key, title, and sworn affidavits from friends, the reseller wouldn't budge. So after locating the original stolen car report from Philadelphia police, Russell was able to have Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies impound the antique car on June 14. Two days later, Russell and his wife drove out from their Dallas suburb to lay claim to the Healey after paying the $600 impoundment fee. "I couldn't get the credit card out of my pocket fast enough," he said.

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