West Mercia Police
West Mercia Police

The Weird Week in Review

West Mercia Police
West Mercia Police

Barefoot Burglar Identified by Glow-in-the-Dark Footprints

John Richards of Dinham, Ludlow, UK, pled guilty to burglary charges after confronting the overwhelming evidence against him. An unnamed business in Ludlow had reported several burglaries, and Mercia police turned to SmartWater Technology Ltd to install a security system that uses a liquid containing a unique code to identify the place it was applied. It is only visible under ultraviolet light. A CCTV camera caught Richards in the act of tripping the motion-sensitive security system that sprayed the liquid. He was barefoot at the time in order to make little noise. Police later found the liquid inside his boots and on a stolen cash box. 

The Boney-Eared Assfish

The Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, has a new specimen in its Finding Fishes exhibit, although it was caught ten years ago. Meet Acanthonus armatus, better known by its common name, the bony-eared assfish. Gavin Hanke, the museum's curator of vertebrate zoology, was with the group that caught the fish, the only one of its species caught off the North American coast.   

"It is an ugly fish. That's why I like it," Hanke said. "It's got a big bulbous head and a tapering body and flabby skin. It almost looks like a glorified tadpole. It felt very gelatinous and soft when we picked it up.

"It has a very large mouth, and off the back of the gills there are some very large spines that point backwards," he said.

"When we first found the fish there were six or seven of us on the deck of the boat looking at it, and nobody could even guess which family it belonged to, because we had just never seen one before."

The Finding Fishes exhibit is in the museum’s Pocket Gallery, and admission is free.

Prison Official Arrested for Stealing and Selling 31-mile Road

Alexander Protopopov supervised Russia’s prison system in the far north Komi region for five years. Wednesday, he was arrested for dismantling and selling off a 31-mile stretch of road, which will cost the government about six million rubles ($79,000 US) to replace. Protopopov is accused of removing 7,000 concrete slabs, which he sold for personal profit. The scheme went on for about a year. The official charge is “misappropriating of state property while using his official position,” and could lead to a 10-year prison sentence. Several other Russian officials are under investigation in connection with the crime.  

Woman’s Body is a Brewery

An unnamed upstate New York schoolteacher beat the rap in her October DUI arrest when it was determined that she suffered from gut fermentation syndrome, a rare condition in which high levels of yeast in her intestines converted carbohydrates to alcohol. Her blood-alcohol level had registered alcohol at four times the legal limit for driving.

Claiming the condition would be a pretty easy get-out-of-jail-free card for those who actually were drunk driving, so proving it requires serious testing. Among other things, [Attorney Joseph] Marusak had three medical professionals monitor his client for a day, and despite not drinking an ounce of booze, she had a blood-alcohol content of .36, or four times New York's legal limit, he said.  

The DUI case was dismissed. A doctor has prescribed the woman a low-carbohydrate diet to keep her body from making her drunk.  

Rail Issues Were Due to Strong Sunshine

Britain undergoes many weather conditions, but it appears that sunny days are something they do not experience often. On Monday, Southeastern railway officials blamed a backup of trains in Lewisham, South London, on “strong sunshine.” Passengers are used to delays caused by snow or leaves on the tracks, but thought “sunshine” was a weak excuse. A spokesman for the service said, “…thankfully for all it doesn’t happen very often.” 

They Were Millionaires for 20 Minutes

Forty-two employees of Grissini’s Restaurant in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, pooled $210 and bought Powerball lottery tickets in time for Saturday’s drawing. The jackpot was at $949 million at the time. Saturday night, a friend texted the latest Powerball numbers to the restaurant (2, 11, 47, 62, 63 and 17) -and all the numbers matched one of their tickets! There was much rejoicing, and one dishwasher threw off his apron and quit his job. Bartender Charles Poveromo called his wife, and she suggested they double-check the numbers. That’s when they found out that the website hadn’t yet been updated after the drawing, and the numbers were that of the previous drawing on Wednesday. The 20 minutes of euphoria were over. There’s no word on the dishwasher who quit his job.    

5 Strange News Stories From This Week

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.


On January 11, Nick Stafford of Cedar Bluff, Virginia, carted 1600 pounds of pennies into the Lebanon Department of Motor Vehicles to pay taxes on two of his vehicles. It was the end of a saga that began in September, when Stafford tried to find out which of his homes (which are located in two counties) he should use to register his son's new car. When he tried to call his local DMV, he was routed to a larger call center—and so, to get the local number he wanted, he submitted a successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Then he went one step further, filing three lawsuits to get the direct numbers for nine other local DMVs. “If they were going to inconvenience me then I was going to inconvenience them,” Stafford told The Herald Courier.

A judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuits when the state's Attorney General physically handed Stafford the phone numbers in the courtroom. But Stafford still had to pay sales tax on his vehicles, and he got in one last dig at the DMV while doing so: First, he bought five new wheelbarrows. Then, he bought a bunch of rolls of pennies. He hired 11 people to help him unroll the pennies—300,000 in total—and drove them to the DMV, where he put them in the wheelbarrows and, with the help of people he had hired, rolled them in. (“I’m not used to lifting,” Stafford said. “These are heavy.”) The lawsuits, wheelbarrow, and hired help cost Stafford more than $1000 above the amount of the vehicle tax.


When he was pulled over in early December 2016, Ross Lebeau thought it was a routine traffic stop—but Houston sheriff's deputies arrested him on drug charges. In his car, the officers had found a substance in a sock, which, when field tested, was positive for meth. A press release stated that Lebeau had been found with a half pound of meth in his vehicle; the release contained both Lebeau's mugshot and a picture of the substance seized.

Lebeau spent three days in jail, but he was released when lab tests revealed that the substance was not meth after all—it was kitty litter! As WMC Action News 5 reported on January 7:

Lebeau said the substance was cat litter inside a sock.

His father left one in his car and gave the other to his sister for her car. It's supposed to keep the windows from fogging up.

The problem was that two field tests done by deputies came back positive for meth.

The county's forensic lab tested the substance as well, and no drugs were found. The case was then dismissed, but the damage was already done to Lebeau's reputation. "People have been calling me a kingpin or drug lord," Lebeau said, adding that he's lost out on work because of the accusation. “I was wrongly accused, and I'm going to do everything in my power to clear my name."


Nancy Holten was born in the Netherlands, but she's lived in Switzerland since she was a child. The outspoken vegan and animal rights activist has campaigned against the cowbells that local livestock wear, saying the tradition is animal abuse, and has complained about loud church bells, hunting, and pig races. Holten, who is seeking Swiss citizenship, as been denied twice. Local residents can approve or deny villagers' requests, and they have deemed Holten too annoying. As Yahoo News UK reported on January 11:

"Tanja Suter, the president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten has a 'big mouth' and that residents did not want to grant her citizenship 'if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions.'"

Holten's citizenship case has been transferred to the Cantonal (regional) government body, which can overturn the local decision.


Gjyste (Julie) Margilaj heard a crashing sound in her first-floor Manhattan apartment kitchen just after midnight on January 10. “I freaked ... out for a couple of minutes, and then I went over to the kitchen and I heard someone panting and breathing like they were in obvious pain. They were freaking out," she told the New York Daily News. “I opened the kitchen vent so he could breathe.” The man, a new resident of the seven-story building, had been on the roof hanging with some friends when, according to the FDNY, he removed the cover of an exhaust fan and slid down into the ductwork. "The shaft was so small that his body took up the entire vent," FDNY Chief Patrick Tansey told Pix 11 News. "So, using power tools was out of the question. We had to expose him by hand." The man—who was wearing just his underwear—only had minor injuries after the ordeal. "He had told the occupant who called us something about a pool in the basement," Tansey said, "but I don't know."


This week, Brian Berg filed a lawsuit over an incident that occurred last summer at Fox Run Golf Links in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The golfer was enjoying a day on the green when he was run over by a portable toilet. An employee of the course was using a forklift to move the toilet but couldn't see where he was going because the toilet obscured his vision. According to CBS Chicago,

"After he was knocked to the ground by the porta-potty’s “initial blow,” it did not stop, hitting him in the face and knocking him unconscious, the suit says. It injured his shoulder, cut his chin, cracked a rib, bruised a bicep and caused 'a large, deep bruise to his leg.'"

Berg is asking $50,000 in damages from the Elk Grove Park District, which runs the golf course, and the forklift driver.

5 Strange News Stories From This Week

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.


When authorities got a call about a calf that was loose on Tennessee's Highway 79N, David Bevill of Paris, Tennessee, volunteered to help local police capture it. Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew drove down the highway with Bevill on the hood, ready to rope in the calf. According to a Facebook post,

Belew said the calf became loose when a man was driving through town and his cattle trailer door broke. “There were actually two that got loose, but Dr. Lyons at Mineral Wells Animal Clinic and his crew were able to get the other one,” Belew said.

“So everybody is happy—we roped one calf, Dr. Lyons got the other one and the guy who was hauling them through town is happy, too,” Belew said.

It's always handy to know a cowboy when you've got a job to do.


Erin McCutcheon's cat Juno escaped a zippered cat carrier and jumped out of a moving car on the upper deck of I-93 in Boston on Christmas Day. McCutcheon couldn't find her cat, and so distributed posters and put out a call for help on Facebook. On Tuesday, a Local 103 crew of electricians doing maintenance work spotted Juno high above the lower deck, perched on the support girders under the upper deck. Juno had been stuck 80 feet above the highway for nine days! The crew couldn't catch the frightened feline, but eventually lured her out with cans of cat food. Juno, hungry and thirsty, went home with electrician Jay Frazier, and was later reunited with the McCutcheons.


Ma Van Nhat underwent surgery at Bac Kan Hospital in Vietnam in 1998 after suffering injuries in a traffic accident. Recently, he complained of pain in his abdomen, which doctors dismissed as a stomachache. But on December 27, during a routine checkup, a doctor determined there was a foreign object there. Last Saturday, surgeons removed a pair of surgical scissors, which had apparently been inside Nhat for 18 years. The scissors had broken and adhered to Nhat's abdominal organs. According to The Huffington Post,

The hospital’s director, Trinh Thi Luong, is now taking great pains to find out who may have left the scissors inside Nhat.

“Even if they are already retired, we will still inform them,” Luong said, according to Reuters. “This is a lesson to all doctors.”


An unnamed man in Mainhausen, Germany, woke up Monday morning and got ready for work as usual—but when he opened his front door, he couldn't leave: Someone had built a brick wall over the door opening. The perpetrators had built the wall quickly and quietly during the night. He had to tear out the bricks to leave his house. Police don't know whether the wall was a prank or an act of revenge.


The citizens of Roane County, West Virginia, elected a new sheriff in November. Bo Williams began his new job last Sunday, but on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, he was was arrested on charges of grand larceny for stealing meth from an evidence locker at his previous job with the Spencer, West Virginia, police department. Bags of meth with evidence numbers were found in his desk and in his car. Williams had resigned from that job after admitting to drug addiction in December. The Roane County commission removed Williams from office that same day, and asked a former sheriff to step in to run the department. Williams is out of jail on bond and may face up to 10 years in prison.


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