Florida's Strange Lessons of 2010

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Some lessons learned in Florida this year:

- Giant African snail mucus can make you sick.

- Don't let your dog near frozen iguanas.

- Burials at sea don't work so well if the body doesn't sink.

- And if you're a woman visiting a federal detention center, wear a bra, but make sure it doesn't have an underwire.

Florida lived up to its reputation for being an odd state in 2010, a year where stupid crimes, poor decisions and general weirdness seemingly showed no geographical or age limits.

Like the 3-year-old who took a bag of marijuana to school in Columbia County, the 81-year-old Marion County man busted for selling pot and the 19-year-old arrested for lighting up a joint in a Palm Beach Gardens bookstore while waiting for Ozzy Osbourne's autograph.

In other marijuana news, an Osceola County man chose his front yard, visible from the street, to grow pot. He was arrested when the plants, some seven-feet tall, were spotted. A Florida Keys man was a little smarter and grew his weed in the woods. He was arrested when deputies took the plants and left a note that said, "Thanks for the grow! You want them back? Call for the price." He called, offered $200 and then met deputies to get the plants back.

Then there was the man pulled over in Manatee County who claimed the crack in his crack wasn't his. Officers found bags of marijuana and crack cocaine stuffed between the man's butt cheeks. He said the pot was his but "the white stuff is not mine."

Among other bizarre traffic stops, a man with a fake badge, flashing green lights and a holstered gun pulled over motorists and asked them if they had drugs or alcohol. Police said he reeked of booze and charged him with DUI and impersonating an officer.

Marion County deputies said a 61-year-old man they pulled over took one more drink in front of them before submitting to, and failing, a field sobriety test. A Collier County deputy called a cab for a drunk bar patron, only to see the cab return a few minutes later and the patron get out and try to drive away. The man was charged with DUI.

Alcohol played a role in many other stories, like the 55-year-old woman injured when trying to use the bathroom in a motor home traveling down I-10 in the Panhandle. She somehow fell onto the highway. Then there was the Daytona Beach man who lied to officers about being carjacked because he was too embarrassed to admit he let a stranger take his pickup on a beer run. The man never returned.

A 32-year-old Pasco County man called 911 to complain his mother took his beer. Police in Deland said a man walked out of a bar and head-butted a street preacher who called him a sinner. A man in Marion County almost chewed his brother's ear off during a drunken fight over a dog. A Pasco County man was charged with slashing his father with a knife during an argument over who would walk the dog.

There were other strange dog stories. A man was walking his Jack Russell terrier in Tampa when an alligator snatched it. He pulled out his handgun and started shooting at the gator. It let go of the dog, but the pet wasn't breathing until the man performed CPR and revived it.

South Florida veterinarians began seeing an unusual number of paralyzed dogs and concluded they had a rare disease caught after coming in contact with iguanas killed during a cold snap.

Dogs weren't always the victim. A Hernando County man was run over by his own pickup truck after his dog jumped into the running vehicle and put it in gear.

In other truck news, a death row inmate filed and lost a lawsuit seeking to keep a restored 1971 Chevy pickup that he stole from the couple he killed.

In Sanford, a dealer of used pickup trucks offered a free AK-47 assault rifle with every purchase. Apparently trucks and guns go well together. Fort Pierce police say a 25-year-old man drove his pickup truck across a lawn, over a mailbox and at several people after losing an arm-wrestling match, then pressed a rifle to the forehead of the man who beat him. Two men were charged in Glades County after authorities found 36 dead alligators and 19 live hatchlings in their pickup truck.

Several people in Miami complained to authorities when they got sick after consuming mucus from a giant African snail as part of a religious ceremony.

Among some threatening items bomb squads had to handle this year: a box with two kittens in Cocoa and a stuffed pony in Orange County. Authorities blew up the stuffed pony, but spared the kittens.

A Melbourne street was shut down for three hours, the time it took the bomb squad to figure out the flashing object in the middle of the street was a restaurant pager. An Orlando-area police station was evacuated when an elderly woman walked in with a grenade she found - pin intact.

It wasn't the year to mess with the elderly. An 84-year-old man was arrested in Bay County for allegedly hitting a deputy with his cane. An 80-year-old Brooksville woman was found guilty of bilking friends and neighbors out of more than $1 million in a phony lottery scheme, telling them she won a fortune in a Dutch lottery and asking them for money.

Would-be robbers knocked an 83-year-old man to the ground in Clearwater only to turn and run when the victim pulled a gun on them. A 69-year-old woman turned back a robber after picking up the gun he dropped in her car while smashing the windshield with it. He also dropped his cell phone and was caught.

A 19-year-old robbing a Pensacola pharmacy put down his gun to look into a bag of drugs that was handed to him. The pharmacist grabbed the gun and the man was tripped and held until police came.

A man walked into a Destin bank, waved a gun and fled with $6,000 - but left his wallet behind. He was quickly captured.

Karma? St. Petersburg police said a 58-year-old woman pointed a gun at her daughter, then shot herself in leg when she lowered the weapon.

A Jacksonville woman reported her baby daughter missing and was arrested when officers found the baby girl in a gym bag in the back of her car. A Clay County woman was arrested after posting a photo of her baby with a bong on her Facebook page.

Police say a mother gave her 23-year-old son $50 for gas and said she needed a ride so she could meet a man 60 miles away and have sex for money. Both were charged in the Polk County prostitution sting.

A man told Gainesville police a hooker robbed him after he broke off negotiations for paid sex when he realized she had bad teeth.

An Orlando woman coming off a cruise ship with her family was arrested and spent 36 hours in jail when authorities thought she was a prostitute. It turns out she shared the same name - but not the same profession - of a woman wanted by police.

Tampa-area identical twins were arrested after one couldn't make a court appearance and the other filled in. Their fingerprints weren't identical.

The cremated remains of a Fort Walton Beach woman's grandmother were accidentally sold at a yard sale. They were in a potted violet. The family of a deceased man had his ashes packed into fireworks shells so they could be blasted over Flagler County.

A family honoring relative's dying wish gave him a burial at sea, only to have the body resurface off a Fort Lauderdale beach.

A Tampa-area couple paid $8 for a box of bones at a yard sale that they planned to use as Halloween decorations, until they got home and realized it was a real human skeleton.

A Citrus County elementary teacher asked her husband to help put together photo CDs of her second-grade class. He accidentally mixed in one of his porn DVDs, which the teacher unknowingly gave to an 8-year-old girl.

A federal prosecutor in Miami was arrested on a felony charge after stripping down to his boxer shorts and going for a swim at a barside pool. A woman complained to police that she and her daughter got a flash of his junk as he got out.

And finally, a Miami attorney said she was kept from visiting her client at a federal detention center because the underwire of her bra set off the metal detector. After she took it off, she said guards wouldn't let her in because she was braless.
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