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 V.14 No.3 | January 20 - 26, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Michigan—Tony J. Young wasn't about to lose his customized 2003 Ford Mustang Coupe for a second time, so when he found the person who stole it, he grabbed it and held on for dear life. Young noticed his car had been stolen after he woke up at a friend's house last Thursday morning. While getting a ride to work, Young spotted his beloved car at a stop sign and clamped on. As soon as Young grabbed the dark gray car's rear spoiler, the thief hit the gas, and took the 35-year-old owner on a chase through the snowy streets of Flint. Despite speeds that reached up to 80 mph, Young held fast, even managing to pull out his cell phone and dial 911. City 911 dispatcher Holly Wilson encouraged Young to let go of the car. “Sir, you can get another vehicle,” Wilson noted. Fearing that letting go of the vehicle at such high speeds might kill him, Wilson held on, announcing streets signs to police as they whizzed by. At one point, Young announced that he had just passed downtown Flint's police station. Flint police eventually caught up with the car and gave chase, along with Genesee County Sheriff's deputies and state troopers. Young lost his cell phone, though, when the Mustang made its way on to Interstate 475. “It got scary toward the end,” Young told The Flint Journal, “People on the expressway were tripping.” The chase finally came to an end when the thief stopped the car and fled on foot. He was caught about 10 minutes later. Amazingly, Young escaped the incident uninjured--especially surprising since he recently had back surgery and is on worker's compensation. Two months previous, the Mustang had been stolen and stripped of everything including its $3,500 stereo. “If I let go, I figured the car was gone for good,” he told reporters, dismissing suggestions that it would have been better to let the car thief get away. “I would do it again if I had to.”

Dateline: Norway—It pays to recycle. Arild Tofte and Kaare Haggdal, who run a recycling company in the town of Aaroedalen, were hired by the Sparebanken Moere Bank to remove an outdated automatic teller machine from a gas station. Tofte said the woman on duty at the gas station was more than a little skeptical when two men showed up with a trolley and a truck wanting to remove her store's ATM. “She calmed down when I explained that the machine was empty and that we had a contract to pick it up,” Toft told the local Romsdals Budstikke newspaper. During their rounds to pick up more scrap, the duo got a call from a security guard looking for the machine. Apparently the bank had not gotten around to emptying the machine. The bank--which blamed the incident on a communications mixup--didn't say how much was in the ATM, but Tofte said the guard who emptied the machine told him it was enough to buy a house, take a luxury vacation and still have money to burn.

Dateline: Montana—According to the Great Falls Tribune, city police spent Christmas Eve trying to extract a naked man from a park swing. Great Falls police were called to Gibson Park at about 1 a.m., Dec. 25. There, they found a 19-year-old man stuck in one of the park's plastic toddler swings. Temperatures had dropped to 20 degrees, so police covered the man with a blanket and tried, unsuccessfully, to pull him out of the seat. Firefighters called to the scene didn't have any luck either. Stumped, the police and firefighters cut the swing down and moved their operation to the nearest firehouse. Hacksaws and boltcutters were employed to try and cut away the hard plastic swing, but proved unsuitable for the task. A tub of grease, requisitioned from the firehouse's kitchen proved equally unsuccessful. “We tried everything,” Great Falls Fire Capt. Max Bailey told the Tribune. Finally, someone brought in a steel grinder and went to work on the rivets holding the swing together. After a bit of grinding, the seat fell apart and the bare-bottomed man was freed. “It was way more torture than he deserved for what he did,” said Bailey. The unnamed man, who never did fully explain how he got into the predicament, was not charged with anything.

Dateline: Florida—Law enforcement officials are searching for a truck driver who disappeared along with nearly 23 tons worth of nickels. Angel Ricardo Mendoza, 43, picked up 45,000 pounds in nickels from the Federal Reserve in New Jersey on Dec. 19 and was expected to deliver the cargo to New Orleans. On Dec. 21, Mendoza's truck and trailer was discovered at a truck stop in Fort Pierce. The entire cargo, 3.6 million nickels worth $180,000, was missing. Miami-Dade police, the FBI and the Federal Reserve police are investigating. It is unknown whether the missing driver, who worked for a trucking company subcontracted by the Federal Reserve, was involved in the theft or was a victim. “We suspect foul play,” Miami-Dade Detective Randy Rossman told reporters. “We are concerned and we are still investigating.”

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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