Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes


Issue: "Boston Terrorthon," May 4, 2013

Nesting place

A home in the Canary Islands that had been abandoned by humans was occupied by others. Millions of others. Authorities in the town of San Sebastián de La Gomera say they found a wasp nest measuring 21 feet, 9 inches long in an abandoned home. Inside live millions of wasps. Police in early April were reportedly trying to find the owners of the property.

Integrity in action

It would have taken Bismark Mensah 2,200 hours to earn at Walmart what he found in a white envelope last October. Mensah, a Walmart employee in Federal Way, Wash., making $9.09 per hour, was helping a woman load groceries into her car. As she drove off, he noticed she had dropped an envelope. It contained $20,000 in cash. The woman, Leona Wisdom, had earmarked that cash for a home down payment. Menseh, who immigrated to the United States last year from Ghana, flagged the woman down to return the money. Wisdom offered Mensah a reward—and even a date with her single daughter—but the 32-year-old man refused. Instead, Mensah was named the retail chain’s “Integrity in Action Award” winner for 2013 and in March was promoted to a full-time position at the store. 

Sticky loot

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Thieves who pilfered a trailer from the German town of Bad Hersfeld will likely have sticky fingers—and no shortage of things to put on toast. That’s because the thieves made off with 5.5 tons of Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread during an April raid. Authorities estimated the stolen spread to be worth more than $20,000. German press accounts report that the Nutella heist took place in the same parking lot where thieves stole a truckload of energy drinks earlier this year.

In from the woods

After living in the woods of Maine for 27 years, Christopher Knight has rejoined society—albeit reluctantly. The 47-year-old man, known locally now as the North Pond Hermit, had lived undetected in the wilderness outside of Rome, Maine, since 1986. The mysterious man had subsisted on supplies pilfered from nearby homes and businesses during more than 1,000 robberies. Authorities finally apprehended Knight on April 2 when he tripped a surveillance system set up by the local game warden. Knight tripped the system as he tried to steal food from a nearby camp for disabled children. “He used us like his local Walmart,” said Pine Tree Camp facilities manager Harvey Chesley. Authorities caught Knight as he was exiting the camp’s walk-in freezer with a backpack full of food.

Canine rejection

A Washington family is recovering from the burglary of their home on April 6, but it’s the ignominy of being rejected by their own dog that’s the hardest part. Members of the East Wenatchee, Wash., family returned home to discover a burglar prowling about their kitchen. Police say that suspect Jason L. McDaniel was feeding pudding to Buddy the family dog when the residents confronted him. After being asked to leave, McDaniel walked casually out the front door, police say, but not before calling for the dog to follow him. According to the police report, the black lab-pitbull mix followed McDaniel out the door and has not been seen since.

Lawn munchers

Officials in Paris have a new plan for environmentally sound grounds keeping: sheep. Authorities purchased a small flock of sheep and let them loose on the grounds of the Paris Archives in April to munch excess grass. Once finished with those grounds, the four sheep will be moved to the lawns surrounding other Parisian municipal buildings. “It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine,” said Marcel Collet, Paris farm director. “And they’re so cute.”

High end patrol

A Lamborghini Aventador shown off at a shopping mall in Dubai in April comes with a special set of lights—flashing lights on top of the car. That’s because the $550,000 automobile is the latest patrol car for Dubai police. While some have called the car a publicity vehicle for the wealth-obsessed city in the United Arab Emirates, others point out that the car may be useful to police. Young men from Dubai reportedly drive over 125 miles per hour at night on desert highways. The Lamborghini Aventador can reach 217 miles per hour and go from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds.

Car trouble

As parking fines go, Jennifer Fitzgerald of Chicago may hold a record. The city says Fitzgerald owes over $105,000 for leaving her car parked at O’Hare International Airport for three years. Fitzgerald, who says the car is worth about $600, insists her ex-boyfriend abandoned the car in the parking lot. A judge on April 10 dismissed her lawsuit against the city and her boyfriend over the tickets, urging the parties to reach a settlement.


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