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The Odd Truth

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

Licorice Lawsuit Rejected

BONN, Germany - Judges on Monday rejected a woman's claim that candy-giant Haribo did not properly warn her that the quantities of licorice she was consuming could be potentially harmful.

Margit Kieske, 48, ate a 400 gram (nearly one pound) bag of licorice every day for four months and said it caused her heart problems.

The Berlin woman sought $7,200 in compensation.

But Bonn regional court presiding Judge Paul-Hermann Wagner said there was no error in labeling the product and rejected the case.

For flavor, licorice candy contains glycyrrhizin, a powerful compound derived from licorice root. Any product containing more than 0.2 percent of glycyrrhizin must be labeled accordingly, Wagner said.

But the Haribo product contained less than that amount, so a warning was not needed, Wagner ruled.

Pet Food Causes Explosion

LIBERTY, North Carolina - Bags of decomposing pet food apparently spontaneously combusted, causing a fire that destroyed the office of an animal rescue group last weekend, investigators said.

Water had apparently leaked into bags of stockpiled dog and cat food at the Happy Hills Animal Foundation, causing the food to begin rotting, fire inspector Wendell Whatley said. The decomposition process generated heat that could not escape from the stacked bags.

Investigators said some bags lower in the stacks had burned from the inside out, suggesting spontaneous combustion. There was about a ton of animal food in the building.

No animals were harmed in the blaze, officials said.

Such fires are rare, but they can occur under the right conditions. More common materials that spontaneously combust include hay, grain and sawdust.

Scuba Getaway Foiled

OLYMPIA, Washington - A bank robber wearing a wetsuit under his clothes tried to make a scuba-diving getaway but was tackled by police before he reached the water, authorities say.

Police subdued the man Thursday on the shore of Budd Inlet after a car chase, a crash and a sweaty quarter-mile dash through the woods, during which he tried to sprint into the water while lugging his diving gear and a backpack filled with the stolen cash, Sgt. Ray Holmes said.

Charles E. Coma, 35, was jailed on suspicion of robbery.

Police said Coma held up a bank Thursday with an assault rifle and fled with an undisclosed amount of money, leading police on a two mile car chase. After crashing into a tree, he got out and ran, wearing a weight belt with an air tank and regulator slung over his shoulder, police said.

Coma managed to get close enough to toss the backpack into the water before officers tackled him on the shore and used a stun gun to halt him, Holmes said. The money was recovered.

Police found a pair of fins inside the car.

He had gone into the bank with a wetsuit under an overcoat or a sweatsuit, police said.

Frat Boys Sentenced In Fish Killing

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Two former fraternity brothers at UC Santa Cruz have been sentenced to a combined 500 hours of community service and probation for stealing and killing a prized campus fish.

Casey Loop, 23, of San Jose, and Matthew Cox, 22, of Santa Cruz, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vandalism and theft charges for the prank last May, when they stole a 20-pound Koi fish from a campus pond. They later fried the fish, an event filmed by a crew for a reality television show that was then filming at their fraternity.

Loop was ordered to serve three years of probation, perform 300 hours of community service and attend 50 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings this year.

Cox was sentenced to two years of informal probation, 200 hours of community service and 25 AA meetings.

Both were also ordered to pay $500 for a new filtration system for the campus koi pond.

Loop apologized in court. His attorney said the university's discipline process would have been more appropriate for the case than criminal charges.

Takeout Bandit Strikes KFC

PITTSBURGH - "One felony, extra crispy, please."

City police on Friday said they were looking for a man who called a KFC restaurant and placed an unusual takeout order - a robbery.

The man called the restaurant March 31 and told the manager he was a police officer. The caller told the manager that a robber was on his way to the store and that the store employees should cooperate so nobody would get hurt. Police planned to grab the robber as he left the store, the caller said.

Moments later, a robber showed up and took $200, but no police arrived to arrest him - fueling police suspicion that the telephone "cop" and restaurant robber are the same person.

Police said at a news conference Friday they believe the same man is responsible for at least 10 other robberies in the city since late January. The other stores weren't called ahead of time.

The robber was caught on video at the KFC, and the images match a description given in the other heists.

Police Follow Trail Of Pennies To Find Suspects

VERONA, Pa. - A trail of pennies led police right to two suspects accused of robbing a private club.

Police arrested a man and a teenage girl found at a home in Verona, after they followed pennies leading away from a Moose Club early Wednesday morning, police Chief Guy Truby said.

Outside the home, police said they found a claw hammer and a 3-pound sledgehammer they believe was used to smash open cash registers and a vending machine at the club. Police also said they found computer equipment stolen from another business, and cash, liquor and candy stolen from the club.

While police were searching the home, authorities said, 26-year-old Joshua May and a 16-year-old girl came back. May was arrested, arraigned Thursday on charges of burglary, receiving stolen property, theft and criminal mischief, and released. A reliable phone number for May could not be located and it was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

The girl was turned over to her parents while she awaits a hearing in juvenile court, Truby said.

Verona is just outside Pittsburgh.

Roadkill Buffet

CALGARY, Alberta - Hungry after months of winter slumber, grizzlies in southwestern Alberta have been waking up to find a feast of deer and elk roadkill.

For the sixth year in a row an "intercept feeding program" has dropped tasty carcasses of animals killed during the winter into the backcountry where the long-slumbering bears can have an easy breakfast.

A provincial wildlife biologist says the program has virtually eliminated the once common spring run-ins between the cattle and grizzlies.

And she adds it's been a "win-win" for the bears and humans.