Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
5 min read
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Dateline: New Zealand– On the weekend before Christmas, a rampaging gang of 50 or so drunken Santas plowed through a movie theater on New Zealand’s South Island. The Santas molested customers, yelled obscenities, ripped down posters and participated in other decidedly un-jolly behavior at the Hoyts Cinema complex in Christchurch. Despite video footage of the incident, police believe it will be impossible to identify participants due to their identical beards, hats and fuzzy red suits. Speculation says the Santas were a group of university students involved in a holiday prank.

Dateline: Hungary– Cross-border crooks are blamed for stealing an entire beach–beach huts, sun loungers, sand and all. Landlocked Hungary has no natural beaches of its own, but tons of sand had been shipped in for a manmade beach along the riverside resort town of Mindszentas. Managers who closed up the leisure park for winter returned to find 6,000 cubic meters of sand as well as playground rides, the huts and even the wooden shops had been carted off. Head of the local council Etelka Repas said, “It is crazy. I would have thought it was impossible to steal an entire beach. It was cleaned up and covered for the winter and then suddenly this week we saw it had totally disappeared–beach and all.” Eight new European Union states from the former Communist bloc, including Hungary, joined the Schengen Agreement–which means an end to border controls between EU members. As for the missing beach: “It has probably been shipped over the border now without any checks being made where it will be easier to get rid of,” Repas said, but was unable to speak to any evidence of this international crime ring.

Dateline: New York– A lazy bank robber has been arrested for looting two banks on a street near his home four times in the past week, with one of the banks hit twice in one day. Orlando Taylor, 26, was arrested last Tuesday apparently on his way to make yet another illegal withdrawal. The spree began at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 14, when the bandit used a threatening note to rob an HSBC branch about 12 blocks from his home. Using the same method the next day, he ripped off a Bank of America down the block. On Monday at 10 a.m., the robber hit Bank of America again. After changing clothes, he returned to the BofA and demanded more money. With uniformed and plainclothes officers swarming the street the next day, Taylor was spotted heading back toward the HSBC branch and was arrested. Each robbery netted between $450 and $3,500. Taylor faces multiple robbery charges, police say.

Dateline: Idaho– Graduates of this year’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Academy have vowed to cause trauma and stress among the citizens of Idaho. Each year, graduating classes at the law enforcement academy are allowed to choose their own slogan. Class #156 chose the somewhat appropriate motto, “Don’t Suffer from PTSD, Go Out and Cause It.” PTSD, or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is “an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.” Until this recent incident, officials at POST didn’t review slogans before programs for graduation were printed. The slogan wasn’t noticed until just before the ceremony was set to begin on Dec. 14. “That’s not something we encourage or condone,” said Jeff Black, executive director of the POST Academy. “It shouldn’t have been there. It was inappropriate.” The latest class, which includes officers bound for 19 police agencies around the state, selected the quote from retired Army Lt. Col. David Grossman. Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan report a high level of PTSD. “Our class president was ex-military,” Black said. “It slipped in.”

Dateline: Colorado– David J. Pfahler, 60, is suing 8-year-old Scott Swimm for crashing into him on a ski slope last January. Pfahler, of Allentown, Pa., says he tore a tendon in his shoulder in the collision and is suing for physical therapy expenses, vacation time and other expenses according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado. Scott, who was 7 at the time of the incident, was skiing slowly and in control when he tried to pass Pfahler on a catwalk at Vail’s Arrowhead Mountain, according to Scott’s father, Robb Swimm, who witnessed the crash. “It wasn’t a violent collision or anything. Scott just kind of tapped his ski boots,” Mr. Swimm told the Vail Daily. Scott said he was sorry and started to ski away when Pfahler grabbed the boy by the legs, cursed at him and threatened to sue him, Robb Swimm said. “I was really scared,” Scott told he newspaper. Colorado law does not allow people to sue minors, so Scott’s parents have been named in the lawsuit on his behalf. Pfahler is asking for damages in excess of $75,000.

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

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