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9 Terrible Props Used in Bank Robberies

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By Lauren Hansen

1. Spaghetti sauce

On April 13, a woman allegedly walked into a Detroit bank, put a heavy cloth sack on the counter, and demanded cash from the teller. She said she had a bomb in the bag, which, considering its heft, was enough to convince the teller to fork over an undisclosed amount of money. The robber escaped, and the bomb squad swooped in to find that the threat was actually just two cans of spaghetti sauce. The suspect is still on the loose.

2. A fake plastic gun

You might think a fake plastic gun would be the ideal weapon to fool your victims into submission. But if your gun looks too real, you might actually inspire people to fight back. Which is exactly what happened on March 1 at a bank in Trimble, Mo. While a masked man was allegedly threatening a bank teller, another bank employee, who was in an office, grabbed his Smith & Wesson .357 revolver from his desk and fired two rounds at the robber. The man was struck in the jaw, but managed to escape, leading police on a wild car chase. He didn't make it very far, however, and was later arrested. He remains hospitalized in federal custody pending a detention hearing. The bank employee who fired the shots reportedly has a concealed weapon permit and is not expected to face charges.

3. A toilet plunger

In April 2012, Lawrence Deptola allegedly tried to rob not one bank but three in upstate New York while brandishing a toilet plunger. According to reports, the 49-year-old entered the banks yelling obscenities and then ordered tellers to put money in a bag while waving the plunger around. Police chased Deptola on foot after he entered the third bank and arrested him on charges of attempted third-degree robbery. No one was hurt, and no money was stolen.

4. McDonald's apple pies

In February 2012, Daniel Hegwood allegedly entered a Wells Fargo Bank in Sacramento, Calif., and told a teller he had a dangerous bomb inside his McDonald's fast food bag. The teller reportedly gave him a hefty amount of cash and Hegwood fled on foot, "bomb" in hand. Police caught up to him, though, and found the McDonald's bag wasn't filled with explosives, but with delicious apple pies. When he resisted arrest and threatened to detonate the bomb in his backpack, police called in a bomb squad. "Certainly in this day and age you have to take every threat seriously," Officer Laura Peck said. "But, with hindsight, knowing the bag contained apple pies, it gives us insight into the lack of sophistication in his methods. Clearly, he's not that good at bank robbery." The 33-year-old was reportedly arrested for robbery, resisting arrest, and other charges.

5. A glue gun

In December 2011, Aaron Randolph allegedly walked into an Indianapolis, Ind., bank and held the employees up with a glue gun. The tellers believed the gun to be real and handed over an unspecified amount of cash before the 23-year-old burglar fled. To be fair, Randolph had cleverly wrapped the arts and crafts tool in black electrical tape and also said he had a bomb. Police were able to track Randolph down with the help of surveillance video and reports of a stolen car parked less than a mile from the scene of the crime. At the time, the suspect was reportedly held on $80,000 bond.

6. A box of macaroni

In 2009, Mark Anthony Carpenter allegedly walked into a North Carolina bank, claimed his box of macaroni was a bomb, and demanded money. The tellers, however, were skeptical of how uncooked pasta could cause them harm and so refused to give him any money. The 44-year-old then reportedly fled, but was apprehended by police in a nearby woods after a brief foot-chase.

7. A garage door opener

Just before closing time at an Ohio bank on March 15, 1995, Jacqueline Paluszak reportedly walked in and demanded money from three tellers. She threatened them with a bomb that she said she could detonate with the device in her hand. The tellers almost fell for it until they noticed the word "Sears" on the end of her device. They wasted no time and jumped the woman, forcing her to the floor, where they sat on her until police arrived. The 47-year-old, who was indeed holding a garage door opener, was charged with unarmed bank robbery.

8. Play-Doh

In the early '90s, a bad economy hit 37-year-old Alfred Walleser hard. Laid off from his job as a liquor salesman, the father of two said he turned to robbery for financial support. Using his daughter's Play-Doh, aluminum foil, and cassette tapes, the Florida man mangled together fake bombs which he used to rob or attempt to rob 16 banks. In two completed robberies, he reportedly walked away with $9,100. He had become so notorious that the FBI gave him a nickname — the "Bank Bomber." But in 1993, he was arrested, confessed to the crimes, and pleaded guilty in federal court.

9. Chewing gum

This 1956 bank robbery is brought to you by The Little Rascals B-roll. A bank teller in a Detroit bank was counting money when 16-year-old Raymond Siebert reportedly distracted her with a request to check on a 50-cent service charge levied against his account. While the teller was gone, Siebert allegedly stuck his wad of chewing gum to the end of a stick, poked it through the bars of the teller's desk and managed to lift 10 $50 bills from the pile. When the teller returned, the teen was gone with $500. The teller only put two and two together when she was short at the end of the day. Police picked up the boy, and an FBI agent found the cash in his home.

Sources: The Associated Press (2), The BlazeCBS News, Detroit Free PressEllensburg Daily RecordThe Huffington PostNew York Daily NewsSun SentinelWRAL.com

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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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