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6,000 Cheesecakes & 7 Other Strange Robberies

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Most criminals rob banks, steal cars, or maybe just take your wallet. But some crooks have gone for less conventional targets over the years. Like Kurt Cobain's ashes, or 6,000 cheesecakes.

1. Bridge Today, Gone Tomorrow

If someone offered to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge, you'd know it was a scam. But if someone in Khabarovsk, Russia, were to offer you a 200-ton steel bridge, they might actually deliver. In January 2008, employees on their way to a remote heating plant were forced to find an alternate route after the 38-foot steel bridge they crossed the day before had vanished. While the workers slept, scrap metal thieves dismantled the span and supports and loaded it all onto trucks for a quick getaway. The plant's owners estimated it would cost around $40,000 to build a new bridge. This time, though, they were going to use concrete.

2. Lifting Lingerie

madonna-braDuring the 1992 L.A. riots, while some looters were busy stealing TVs and VCRs, others broke into Frederick's of Hollywood and made off with around $200,000 in women's undergarments. The company also suffered the loss of a few one-of-a-kind items from the store's lingerie museum—a bustier with gold tassels that Madonna wore in the music video for "Open Your Heart," a pair of Ava Gardner's bloomers, and a push-up bra worn by Katey Sagal as Married...With Children's Peg Bundy. A few days later, a man known only as Jim B. came forward to return Peg's push-up and Ava's undies. Sadly, Madonna's bustier was never recovered, despite a $1,000 reward from the company. But she agreed to give Frederick's a replacement in exchange for a $10,000 donation to an organization that supplied free mammograms to the poor.

3. Somebody Call for a Bambulance?

Escaped psychiatric patient Leon Hollimon stole an ambulance in Lexington, North Carolina, and led police on a cat-and-mouse chase for hours, traveling through four different counties in two states. One of the cops likened the chase to an episode of Dukes of Hazzard. Eventually, the culprit ran off the road and was apprehended wearing a stethoscope, carrying latex gloves, and sporting a mohawk. It was an odd enough crime, but it got really weird when authorities found, splayed in the back, a dead deer with an IV stuck into its body. There was also evidence that Hollimon had tried using a defibrillator on the animal. Hollimon was taken to a nearby mental health facility for evaluation.

4. Kurt Cobain, Meet Cheech and Chong

cobainAfter Kurt Cobain's death in 1994, most of his ashes were spread over a Buddhist temple in New York and in the Wishkash River in Washington state. His wife, Courtney Love, kept what was left inside a pink, bear-shaped handbag, hidden in a closet at her Hollywood home. In June 2008, Love said that a former friend broke in and stole the bag. The ashes' whereabouts were unknown until a few months later, when German performance artist Natascha Stellmach claimed she acquired them, mixed them with marijuana, and planned to smoke the whole thing as part of an art installation entitled "Set Me Free." She said the act was symbolic and was going to release Cobain's spirit "into the ether from the media circus." Of course, no one is able to substantiate if Cobain's remains were in the joint or if it was just a publicity stunt. Either way, the ashes were never recovered.

5. Hulk Wrestles Ex-Wife for Toilet Seat

wwf-magazine-hogan
Shortly after their divorce, Hulk Hogan (AKA Terry Bollea) sued his ex-wife, Linda, for stripping their Florida home of chandeliers, a tanning bed, bathtubs, fixtures, and many other items Hogan said were necessary for the house to sell. One of those much-needed items specifically mentioned in the suit was a "wooden antique toilet seat from the guest house." In response to Hulk's accusations, Linda said, "He knows I'm using the wooden toilet seat as a frame for his picture ever since I found out he is a serial cheater and a liar. Once he comes clean and starts to be honest, he can have it back." Obviously this is one Hollywood relationship that really went down the crapper.

6. Head Deadhead's Head Missing

The Hulkster isn't the only one with missing toilet woes. After Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia died, Henry Kolty bought the rock star's home and auctioned off items from the house to raise money for charity. In March 2006, Kolty sold Garcia's toilet for $2,550 to casino Goldenpalace.com. But before it could be delivered, the throne was stolen from Kolty's driveway. The casino offered $250 for the return of the commode, but it was never found.

7. Now I Just Need a Few Tons of Strawberries...

On December 26, 2009, truck driver Gary LaSalle left his big rig and refrigerated trailer parked near Orlando International Airport with a group of similar delivery trucks. He took the keys with him, but left the cooling unit running on the trailer to protect his valuable cargo, which he would be delivering to North Carolina in the morning. When he returned the next day, his $50,000 truck, the $120,000 trailer and its contents—6,000 cheesecakes, valued at $40,000—were gone. The police investigation is ongoing, but its doubtful the cheesecakes will ever be found.

8. Pilfered Pumps and Heisted Heels

marla-peopleWhile it's a known fact that women love shoes, apparently so did Chuck Jones, the former publicist of Marla Maples, the former wife of Donald Trump. In July 1992, Maples noticed that some of her things were missing. So she and Donald set up a hidden camera in her apartment and caught Jones in her apartment without permission. When police raided his home, they found some of Maples' underwear and 40 pairs of her shoes, including high heels, black Converse high-tops, bedroom slippers, and cowboy boots made of alligator skin. He was initially convicted in 1994, but that was overturned in 1996 due to a technicality. During his retrial in 1999, he represented himself and, during his testimony, admitted to having a shoe fetish. He went so far to say he'd had a sexual relationship with Maples' footwear. After a media circus trial, Jones was found guilty of burglary and sentenced to 1 to 4 years in prison. He was released in 2001 and tried unsuccessfully to sue Maples for various reasons until 2002, when the courts told him to stop.

Ever heard of a crime and asked yourself, "Why would you steal that?" Ever had anything peculiar stolen from your own house? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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