Alibi V.25 No.25 • June 23-29, 2016 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: New Zealand

A sudden surge in demand and a poor growing season have sparked a fruit-based crime wave in New Zealand. England’s Guardian newspaper reports there have been close to 40 large-scale thefts from avocado orchards in the north island of New Zealand since January. As many as 350 of the fruits have been stolen at a time. Avocados are currently selling for between NZ$4 and NZ$6 (between $2.80 and $4.25) apiece. According to New Zealand Avocado, local demand for the product surged to an additional 96,000 New Zealand households. Local growers, traditionally geared toward the international market, have been unable to keep up with the demand, forcing prices to climb. The recent thefts—categorized as “opportunistic” rather than “hightly organized”—have taken place in the middle of the night. The purloined product is believed to have ended up in pop-up roadside stalls, grocery stores or “small-scale sushi, fruit and sandwich shops in Aukland.” Sergeant Aaron Fraser of Waihi told the British newspaper there have been “spates” of avocado thefts during his time in the police but nothing as sustained as the current snatchings.

Dateline: China

Web-based loan sharks in China are allegedly demanding naked photos of clients as an unusual new form of collateral. The state-run Beijing Youth Daily reported earlier this month that lenders are asking young women to send nude photos of themselves, along with copies of their ID cards. The clients are warned that the photos will be made public if payments are not made on time. In the newspaper article, one college student said she borrowed 500 yuan ($75) from one online load provider with a weekly interest rate of 30 percent. She was forced to keep taking out new loans in order to pay the old ones, and her debt snowballed to 55,000 yuan ($8,345). At that point the lender demanded a nude photo as a guarantee for her new loans. The young student said many of her female classmates had been caught up in the same scheme but were unwilling to speak up. Posing as a potential client, a reporter from the online Chinese publication Sixth Tone was able to join online chat rooms frequented by lenders and confirmed that the loan sharks also demand personal information such as phone numbers, home addresses, parents’ names, contacts for roommates and student registration information—all of which the lenders threatened to make public if the borrower should default on a loan. After the article was published, many of the loan sharks allegedly suspended the practice of collecting nude pictures.

Dateline: Ireland

A farmer collecting peat for fuel in the Emlagh bog near Dingle, Ireland, dug up a giant lump of butter believed to be some 2,000 years old. Located under 12 feet of turf, the 22-pound dairy product was deemed “theoretically” edible by experts. The farmer, Jack Conway, contacted the local Cavan County Museum to have his find verified. Museum Curator Savina Donohoe told reporters the burried butter, “may have been an offering to the gods.” Archeologists described the 22-pound bog butter as crumbly, with a waxy texture and an overwhelming cheese smell. According to a study published in The Journal of Irish Archeology, butter was a luxury product in Medieval times that was used to pay taxes and rent—making such a discovery unusual but not all that uncommon. In a statement on its website, the Cavan County Museum said the low temperatures, high levels of acidity and minimal oxygen make the area’s peat bogs ideal refrigerators. The antique butter was ultimately donated to the National Museum for preservation. Assistant keeper in the museum’s Irish Antiquities Division Andy Halpin told Irish Times, “Theoretically the stuff is still edible—but we wouldn’t say it’s advisible.”

Dateline: Michigan

Police in Bloomfield are investigating a claim that a woman “drop-kicked’ a custom birthday cake at a local supermarket. According to the store’s manager, the woman entered the Kroger supermarket around 2pm on Saturday, June 11, to pick up a special Batman v. Superman birthday cake. Evidently displeased with the product, the woman tried to go behind the counter and fix it herself. Employees told her health and safety regulations did not allow customers behind the food prep counters. Now infuriated, the woman took the cake to the front of the counter and drop kicked it. According to the Detroit Free Press, employees said the woman’s pastry punt “caused pieces of cake and frosting to be strewn about the bakery section of the store.” A witness also said the woman stepped on the cake several times and yelled, “They fucking ruined my 7-year-old’s birthday cake!” The woman finished her tirade by reportedly “kicking over a wet floor sign on her way out.” The store did not have video of the incident, but police were able to track down the woman by way of her bakery order. When police later interviewed her, she admitted she was upset about the lackluster cake decorating, but told officers the dessert “accidentally slipped out of her hand.” So far no arrests have been made.

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