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The Odd Truth, April 12, 2004

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

Peeping Tom Apology

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. - A Peeping Tom who left $20 and a note failed in his attempt to convince occupants of an apartment to let him continue to spy on them.

A resident of a Mountain Home apartment found the letter and cash on his front doorstep about 30 minutes after he'd chased away a man who was peering in the window of his apartment Saturday night.

Police say the computer-generated letter apologized, but also requested that the resident allow the Tom to keep peeping.

The apartment manager said prior tenants of the apartment had similar complaints.

Apartment residents have spent the last two weeks making plans for a neighborhood watch group.

Police are still looking for the suspect.

All Night Search Nabs Errant Pig

TAMPA, Fla. - It took one helicopter, four squad cars and two search dogs, but authorities have finally caught up with a suspect who has eluded them for a month - a pig who has been tearing up lawns in an upscale neighborhood.

In recent weeks the critter has been chased by men with lassos, tailed by police cruisers and tracked by two animal rights advocates carrying a net. One resident has set a trap for the pig regularly, baiting it with corn, only to have the pig slip in, eat the bait and scamper off.

But Wednesday night he met his match, to the relief of the South Tampa's Sunset Park neighborhood where the pig has been plowing through flower beds, shrubbery and sod and wrecking the landscape.

Marlin Anderson, who had his yard torn up by the pig, walked outside shortly after 10:30 p.m. to the sound of a helicopter circling above his house.

"All of a sudden, I hear barking dogs, and I think, "What is this?' and here is this pig running down the street cutting across my yard and into the swamp," Anderson said. "He was heading for home chased by these dogs."

Following closely behind were two trappers who ran into the mangrove swamp behind the dogs. Then three police cars pulled up and a fourth one behind them blocked an intersection, he said. Anderson said he was told they had chased the pig from a mile away.

Lt. Sal Ruggiero said initial reports were that the captured pig was in the possession of a trapper, but he didn't know where it was being taken. He said the credit for the capture belonged to Officer Buddy Gray.

"He tracked this pig all night long," Ruggiero said. "He tracked it down, and they confronted it and took it into custody."

Nine-Year-Old Arrested For Stealing Rabbit

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - A 9-year-old girl was arrested and handcuffed after she was accused of stealing a rabbit and $10 from a neighbor's home, a move that some thought was too harsh.

A Pasco County sheriff's deputy read the girl her rights and took her away in the back of his patrol car.

The girl, whose name was not released, began to cry during questioning at the police station Tuesday and admitted taking Oreo the rabbit but denied taking two $5 bills and some change, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report.

A deputy found the black-and-white rabbit hopping around in the girl's living room, according to the arrest report.

"Somebody entered a residence without permission and stole money and a pet rabbit. That's burglary," sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said. "I don't know what other explanation you need. Nine years old is enough to know right from wrong."

Lori Ventura, the mother of the child who owns the rabbit, is pressing authorities to prosecute the 9-year-old.

"This little girl needs help, and she needs to be in the system to get help for a long time," Ventura said.

A more common approach, said Pasco-Pinellas Public Defender Bob Dillinger, would be for the deputy to have taken a report and referred the charges to the state attorney.

"There's just a lot of other things you can do with a third-grader," he said. "There are alternatives other than a simple arrest."

The girl was released to her mother from a juvenile assessment center about an hour after her arrest.

Man Found Dangling From Bridge

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey - A man dangled from bridge for two hours Sunday before he was spotted by a taxi passenger, then spent nearly another hour suspended as rescuers tried to retrieve him, officials said.

Police Lt. Peter Mangarella said officers were summoned to the bridge by a cabdriver, whose fare spied the man dangling from a rope as they drove by.

Officers arrived to find the 29-year-old man, whose name was withheld, dangling 15 feet above the lake from about 6 feet of rope attached to the bridge's undercarriage. The rope was tied to the man's calf.

Mangarella said firefighters placed a harness on the man, the rope was cut and he was lowered to a fireboat below.

It was not immediately clear why or how the man got beneath the bridge.

"He's not telling us what he was doing," Mangarella said.

Police believe the man was suspended two hours before they were called. Mangarella said it took about 40 minutes to free him.

Wrong Side Of The Law

ORCHARDS, Wash. - A man who stopped by Washington State Patrol headquarters to ask about getting a job as a lawman found himself on the other side of the law.

Robert Gulley, an unemployed radio technician, was ticketed for alleged drunk driving as he drove away from the patrol office in this city near Vancouver. He had asked for a job application.

"I guess it was a bad time to go there," Gulley, 25.

When Gulley walked into patrol headquarters Wednesday afternoon, he was slurring his words, had glassy eyes and his breath smelled of alcohol, Trooper Maureen Crandall said.

When she told him it wasn't a good idea to apply to be a trooper while intoxicated, Gulley denied drinking. So Trooper Rich Bettger offered to measure Gulley's blood alcohol level with a hand-held breath tester.

Gulley blew a 0.095, above the state's legal limit for driving of 0.08, indicating he'd had at least three drinks, March said.

Gulley said he had only had one drink - a Long Island iced tea - and that it likely caused a high alcohol reading because he hadn't eaten in more than a day.

When the troopers asked Gulley how he got to the station, they said he told them he'd been given a ride. The officers said they warned Gulley not to drive home.

But after leaving the office and pacing back and forth on a nearby side street for 10 minutes, Gulley got into his car and drove away, troopers said. He was promptly pulled over and ticketed.

Classical Nude Statues Covered After Complaints

HARTSVILLE, Tenn. - A garden center's nude statues proved a bit immodest for some in this small town.

G & L Garden Center responded to complaints by covering up the classical-style statues with stylish, two-piece crimson velvet sarongs.

It turns out leaving a little to the imagination meant a lot more customers for the $99.95 ornaments. Six statues have sold in the past couple weeks alone, and the attempt at roadside modesty is stopping traffic.

"He wanted to stop when he saw the naked women and the bikinis," Joan Philpot said of her husband of 50 years, Bill.

And yes, some customers are peeking.

"They are pulling the tops and looking underneath," said G & L co-owner Angie Langford. "They wonder what we're hiding."

Langford doesn't know who made the anonymous calls complaining about the yard art in this town of 3,500 about 40 miles northeast of Nashville.

Workers across the street at Hartsville Gas didn't seem bothered by their full view of the statues.

"I guess some people just don't appreciate art," said gas technician Brad Smith.

Virgin Mary Statue Allegedly Weeps

PERTH, Australia - A statue of the Virgin Mary that has been drawing crowds since 2002 when it apparently began weeping rose-scented tears has started crying again, in the week before Easter, its owner said Sunday.

Patty Powell, who bought the statue 10 years ago in Bangkok, said it started shedding tears again on Palm Sunday.

"I had no idea it was going to happen, but like all of this, I take whatever I am given," Powell said. "I just accept it for what it is, but yes, I am surprised."

Powell, from the Western Australia state capital, Perth, began displaying the statue at a local Catholic church in 2002.

However the city's Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey ordered her to remove it from the church after an analysis of the "tears" found they were a mixture of vegetable oil and rose oil.

"It is therefore my rightful duty as Archbishop of Perth, for the correct guidance of the people of God, to say that the case for a miraculous happening has not been proved," he said.

That ruling did not stop thousands of people flocking to see the statue, which is now on display four days a week at Powell's home, renamed the Holy Family House of Prayer, where she has built a shrine for the weeping figurine.