Dispatches > Quick Takes
Shawna Lynn Palmer
Thomas R. Cordova/Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram/AP
Shawna Lynn Palmer

Quick Takes


Issue: "Back to School," Sept. 6, 2014

Shoe clue

When fraud investigators saw Shawna Lynn Palmer of Riverside, Calif., wearing high heels, her game was up. Palmer, a supermarket clerk, had claimed that a March 10 accident had left her with a broken toe and unable to wear a shoe or put weight on her left foot. Palmer filed a workers’ compensation claim because the injury occurred at her job. But Palmer then entered the Long Beach Grand Prix beauty contest later in March and posted videos of the competition on social media, where investigators found them. Police arrested Palmer on Aug. 8. Her charges could bring her one year behind bars and a fine up to $24,000.

Asleep at the wheel

Nicholas Cunliffe of Stratford, Conn., managed to post bail and leave the police station after he was arrested for stealing a taxicab on Aug. 10, but he didn’t get far. Apparently overcome by drowsiness—and more bad decision making—Cunliffe allegedly broke into a nearby car to take a nap. The car happened to be a police cruiser. Shortly after, officers discovered Cunliffe sleeping in the front seat of the police vehicle, placed him under arrest again, and charged him with breaking and entering a motor vehicle.

Debt paid

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The KFC restaurant in North Platte, Neb., received an unusual letter in August. The letter, handwritten in blue cursive script, details how its anonymous sender felt bad for taking pieces of chicken home with her from the all-you-can-eat buffet. “I took more on my plate than I could eat,” the woman explained. “So I put it in my purse and took it home. I do love your chicken!” Included in the letter was $2 to repay the restaurant for what she stole. “God has forgiven me, and I hope you will too. I will not be so quick to take so much next time.” Restaurant owner Rocky Rasmussen told the Omaha World-Herald he forgives the anonymous woman. “I really wish I knew who it was,” he said. “I would buy them a few meals.”

Diamond drop

Somewhere in the tiny hamlet of Lea in Lincolnshire, a $20,000 diamond is up for grabs. The stone belongs to 77 Diamonds, a London jeweler, but if you find it, you can keep it. As part of a marketing stunt, on Aug. 7 the jeweler attached a 1.14-carat custom-cut diamond to a weather balloon, which reached 100,000 feet above the small English town before falling back to earth. The company then took to its Twitter account, creating the hashtag “Diamonds in the Sky,” to announce that whoever found the stone could keep it. The diamond drop ginned up considerable interest, with hunters taking time from work to search the area for the precious stone or the balloon apparatus. “So tempted to go look for [the diamond] instead of going to work tomorrow,” Becky Wild mused on her Twitter account. “Could be much more lucrative.”

Lemon jam

Motorists in the San Diego area were soured to their morning commute on Aug. 13. The problem began when a pair of cargo trucks collided north of San Diego on Interstate 15. One of the trucks’ cargo, a shipment of unripe lemons, spilled onto the roadway. The citrusy mess blocked all but one lane on the northbound side of the freeway, jamming traffic for more than three hours.

Photo negative

There are only a few months left to buy tiger selfies legally in New York state. On Aug. 12, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that would make it illegal to charge money for having a picture taken with a tiger in the Empire State. The law, the brainchild of Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan, seeks to shut down the burgeoning business of roadside zoos and county fairs in the state that offer selfie-style pictures with big cats. The law, which goes into effect beginning in 2015, will provide for a $500 fine for first-time offenders.

Maternity marathon

One Indian schoolteacher won’t be winning any awards for perfect attendance any time soon. According to an investigation by school authorities, biology teacher Sangeeta Kashyap has missed 23 of her 24 years as an employee of the nation’s public schools. Officials believe the 23-year-run of missing work marks the nation’s high-water mark for absenteeism. According to records, Kashyap began working in 1990 as a biology teacher at a school in central India. Then, according to records, she took maternity leave, was transferred to another school, and never came in for work after that. She occupied an official teaching position until August. Government officials say they aren’t certain whether she had been paid during her two-decade hiatus.


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