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The Odd Truth, June 5, 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.

Dead Getaway

CLEVELAND - Would-be bank robbers take notice: keep your getaway car running.

After rifling the tellers' drawers, a bank robber on Monday bolted to the waiting getaway car.

The car wouldn't start.

The driver didn't move but the holdup man jumped out and tried to steal a car parked in the lot. When that failed, he ran into a home, where he tried to steal the keys to another car. Still no luck.

Then he ran to Interstate 90, where he tried to flag down cars and trucks. The only response he got was from the police.

One officer said it all was pretty stupid, adding "I don't think we're dealing with geniuses here."

Farmers Strip For Justice

MEXICO CITY - Seeking publicity - and getting it - dozens of farmers from the southeastern state of Veracruz stripped to their underwear at a national monument to demand official action against a former governor.

The protest at the Angel of Independence on Mexico City's busy Paseo de la Reforma boulevard caused horn-honking and laughter among passers-by on Wednesday.

"We are stripping because it is the only way to get attention," said Agustin Morales, a 45-year-old farmer. "We don't have money to buy an ad in the newspapers."

The farmers, members of the Movement of 400 Peoples, accuse former Veracruz Gov. Patricio Chirinos of unjustifiably ordering the seizure of lands and mass arrests.

Misspelling Leads To Bomb Threat Arrest

NAPAVINE, Washington - A misspelled bomb threat has led to the arrest of a worker known for his poor spelling.

The 19-year-old worked as a maintenance man at a gas station in Napavine, Washington. He was about to get fired after a heated argument with co-workers.

A device that looked like a bomb was found in a closet at the station. It had a note that said "The bom will bloe if you touch it."

Police were told the maintenance man often misspelled words.

Now he's being charged with "malicious placement of an imitation explosive device."

Thief's Three-Week Bicycle Oddessy Ends

TOKYO - A 66-year-old man who allegedly stole a bicycle, then pedaled it on a three-week, 90-mile getaway has been arrested, police said Thursday.

Yasuji Sugimura was finally stopped when an officer noticed the homeless man trundling down a national highway on a spotless, silver-colored girls-style bicycle bundled with paper bags full of old clothes.

"He was obviously not on a cycling tour. The bike and the rider just didn't go together," said Kunishige Yono, a police spokesman from Shiga Prefecture, about 90 miles inland from Sugimura's starting point at a town on the Sea of Japan coast.

Sugimura is accused of stealing the bicycle, which belongs to a 16-year-old high school girl, from a parking lot in front of a local train station, another police spokesman Shigeru Terada said. The girl had filed a report on the missing bicycle on May 15.

According to police, the man was intending to ride to Nagoya, when he was stopped about 60 miles short of the goal Wednesday and arrested. Terada said it was unclear why Sugimura was bent on bicycling to Japan's fourth largest city.

Mom Drives Daughter To Work, At Strip Club

EL PASO, Texas - Good mom drives her teen-aged daughter to work. Bad mom drives her teen-aged daughter to work — at a strip club. That's the gist of the case against an El Paso, Texas, woman. Vice officers say the woman drove her 15-year-old daughter to work at Exotica, a strip club. Police say the underage girl has been performing nude, topless and also in lingerie. Neither the girl nor the mother has been named by authorities. The club manager says he didn't know the girl was a minor. The mother is charged with employment harmful to children. It's a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Computer Discovered In Fish Stomach

DULUTH, Minnesota - Larry Mattson was fishing in Lake Superior when he caught a high-tech lake trout.

Mattson found a computer the size of a pinky in the fish's belly, and a tag with a phone number on its back.

He dialed the number, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission took the call.

Biologist Bill Mattes says it was only the eighth computer returned among 124 planted in November-2001 by the commission — which represents eleven tribes dedicated to protecting natural resources.

The tiny computers were implanted into lake trout originally caught off the Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan.

They record water depth and temperature every 15 seconds. They'll tell researchers what kind of water the lake trout like, and what temperature they spend their time in.

Mattson ate the fish before realizing he was supposed to return the whole thing to Mattes. He still got a $100 reward for returning the computer.

Mom Released After Putting Daughter In Washer

POMONA, California - The mother of a two-year-old girl rescued from a sloshing commercial washing machine has been freed from jail.

Erma Osborne was released on her own recognizance after pleading innocent to child endangerment. She had been held in lieu of $50,000 bail since her May 24th arrest.

The judge said Osborne had a favorable probation report. In addition, a prosecutor said Osborne wasn't accused of acting maliciously, though she did endanger her daughter by putting her in the machine.

When the door closed, the machine started and the door was sealed shut. A police officer smashed the glass of the front-loading machine to rescue the girl. She was treated for water inhalation and multiple cuts requiring stitches.

Osborne's children are now in protective custody.

One Peacock Dead After Teen Prank Goes Afoul

MASON, Ohio - Some Mason High School students thought it would be fun to turn loose a menagerie of birds and animals in the school as a senior prank.

But the prank went bad and a peacock died.

Now, up to 10 seniors could be barred from graduation ceremonies and four may be charged with theft and animal cruelty, officials in this town 19 miles northeast of Cincinnati said on Wednesday.

Warren County Sheriff Tom Ariss said the peacock, a rabbit and five chickens were among several birds and animals stolen from a nearby farm.

Not all the stolen animals made it to school, Ariss said. A second peacock was missing and a kitten and second rabbit were found off the school grounds and returned to the owner.

School officials said the peacock died after suffering a broken leg and other injuries.

"I don't think the kids understand how destructive and disruptive these things can be," said school district spokeswoman Shelly Benesh Hausman. "They may think it's fun, but they don't realize the consequences. We take a dim view of this activity."

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