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The Odd Truth, June 10, 2003

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Burglars Need Not Apply

STILLWATER, Okla. - A burglar caught on videotape was arrested two days later when he applied for a job at the construction company he burglarized, deputies said.

The owner of JB Construction recognized the job applicant as the man on the tape who stole a $100 laser level tool from the business and $1,000 in CDs from an employees' car.

"The owner called and said, 'I think he's here filling out a job application,"' Payne County sheriff's deputy Sammie Dawson said.

Anthony Kaleb Phillips, 20, was still filling out the application when deputies arrived Thursday. Phillips was ordered jailed in lieu of $5,000 bail Friday.

"He has a six months' pregnant wife at home," sheriff's investigator Noel Bagwell said. "He'd lost his previous job."

Phillips admitted to the burglary when investigators told him he was caught on a surveillance video, Bagwell said. He told them he went to the construction company Tuesday to apply for a job, but found the business unlocked and no one inside.

"He said his conscience bothered him and he wanted to return them," Bagwell said.

Deputies recovered 101 CDs and the tool from Bagwell's home.

Snakes Roam Beijing Streets

BEIJING - First SARS, now snakes.

As China's capital begins to return to normal following the SARS outbreak, it faces a slithery new dilemma - what to do with all those snakes?

Once prized by Chinese gourmets, snake meat has been shunned since researchers announced that the deadly flu-like disease jumped to humans from wild animals.

Restaurants in hard-hit Beijing that once served snakes are taking them off the menu and "secretly releasing" them into the streets, the Beijing Morning Post newspaper said Tuesday.

The southern province of Guangdong, where the first cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome occurred, banned the sale of wildlife in restaurants in late May. Beijing has not imposed a similar ban, but the Chinese capital already barred restaurants from serving many types of animals.

Wayward snakes have become such a problem in some Beijing neighborhoods that the city Forestry Bureau has launched a "snake capture hot line."

A woman who answered the hot line said more than 25 snakes had been caught in the past three weeks.

She said the largest snake caught yet was six feet long "and as thick as a forearm." She said she didn't know what species were involved, but said none were poisonous.

"They all seem to have been released by snake vendors," she said.

Captured snakes are taken to a "snake sanctuary" at the Beijing Zoo, the newspaper said. It said some will be added to the zoo's collection, while others that cannot be raised in captivity will be returned to the wild.

Inmates Foil Robbery

DECATUR, Ala. - Three work-release inmates serving time for buying and receiving stolen goods are being credited with helping foil a robbery attempt at a car dealership.

Calvin Matsey, Barry Hall and Donald Harris said they knew something was odd when they found hubcaps and stereo equipment lying next to a hole in a fence separating the Decatur Country Club, where they worked, from Lynn Layton Chevrolet.

Seth Bond and Charles Wilson, both 23, were arrested and charged with auto breaking and entering last week after the inmates spotted them, ran them down, and held them at the golf course until police arrived.

The two men "just didn't seem like they belonged here," said Matsey, 41.

Matsey said Bond and Wilson were shabbily dressed and kept telling the inmates they were waiting for their uncle to finish some golf. The problem, Matsey said, was no one was playing golf.

"They weren't that smart," Harris said.

Porn On The Clock

GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania - An Adams County, Pennsylvania, official will have to get his kicks on his own time. Commissioner Thomas Collins has admitted using his office computer to surf Internet porn during business hours. Monitoring software showed more than 450 sex site hits during a three-month period. Collins tells the Evening Sun of Hanover that the Internet was his escape mechanism. He adds he has a "mental-health issue" to deal with. The county installed tracking software after department heads complained about misuse of computers. Now, the county has installed filtering programs to block access to porno sites from official computers. But no county official or employee is facing disciplinary action.

World Car-Pushing Record Broken

SAN LORENZO VALLEY, California - Matt O'Brien and Nick Wells are pushing their way into the Guinness record book. The Santa Cruz County, California, guys are claiming a new world's record for car pushing. The pair supplied the horsepower to move a 2,700-pound Mazda more than 34 miles. It took them eleven hours. The previous mark of just over 33 miles was done in 17 hours. O'Brien and Wells also raised about $2,000 in pledges for breast cancer survivors with their stunt. O'Brien came up with the idea after his mother, Sally, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January.

'Kiss Cam' Bandit Gets Two Years

CINCINNATI - It's a kiss that better last for years. David Horton was busted at a Cincinnati Reds game on a parole violation, when he and his girlfriend were shown on the scoreboard "Kiss Cam." Horton's parole officer happened to be at the May seventh game, too. Now, Horton has pleaded guilty to drug charges. Yesterday, he was sentenced to two years in prison for trafficking and possession of cocaine and two-and a-half years for violating his parole. Now, his sentence is sealed with a kiss.

Minister Of The 'Holy Herb' Busted

AUBURN, Washington - Some people call it pot, others weed - but to the Reverend Lee Phillips, marijuana is the "holy herb." Police in Auburn, Washington, raided Phillips' home and confiscated 200 marijuana plants. Phillips is registered in Hawaii as a minister in the Religion of Jesus Church. He says his current so-called church is registered with Washington state as a non-profit organization, called The Center for Healing and Spiritual Renewal. He claims his church considers pot a spiritual aid. In addition, Phillips says his wife needs the weed for medical purposes. No charges have been filed, but authorities continue their investigation.

Pizza With A Political Twist

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - A Danish pizzeria owner who refused service to French and German tourists because their governments didn't back the U.S.-led war in Iraq was convicted of discrimination Tuesday.

Aage Bjerre, who owns a pizzeria on western Denmark's Fanoe island, was investigated by police after he wouldn't serve Germans and French. He called them "anti-American."

In February, Bjerre displayed two homemade pictograms with bars through images of people colored in the hues of the French and German flags. He also reprinted his menus to eliminate German translations.

A Danish court fined Bjerre $780 or said he could spend a week in jail.

"I will not pay. I'll do the time," Bjerre told The Associated Press. "I feel that I was convicted for supporting the coalition."

However, he said he would appeal the decision, despite offers from supporters to pay the fine.

"Every day I turn tourists down, but my conscience is doing fine," he said, adding he has received more than 200 letters from around the world offering support, including letters from "nearly every single state in the United States."

"That means a lot more to me than losing money," he said, adding he's lost nearly $7,800 because of a drop in business and repairing vandalism to the shop's front.

The island, 200 miles southwest of the capital, Copenhagen, is a popular spot for visitors from neighboring Germany. Of the approximately 100,000 tourists who come, some 60 percent are German.

Marriage Proposal Gambled On Hockey Win

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - There was a lot riding on Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals for Mighty Ducks fan Christina SerVoss, and not all of it was on the ice.

Her longtime boyfriend Steve De Sena said he would ask for her hand in marriage if the Ducks won the Stanley Cup. After the team lost 3-0 to the New Jersey Devils on Monday night, it looked like another fairy tale might not have a happy ending.

But with a national television audience watching the post-game festivities, De Sena got on one knee and proposed to a tearful SerVoss. She said yes.

"I feel like we're living the Cinderella story right now," De Sena, 32, of Mission Viejo. "Only the glass slipper is in the shape of a duck foot."

The couple have known each other for seven years and dated for five. De Sena was a chronic procrastinator but he told SerVoss before the playoffs that if the Ducks should win the Stanley Cup, he would marry her.

With the Ducks trailing the Devils on Monday, it appeared that SerVoss, 30, might not get what she wanted. What she didn't know was that De Sena had already made up his mind.

"I think I decided this in Game 3," De Sena said. "I just knew it was the time; I knew it was right."

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