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Friday, April 15, 2011

Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

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Marital Conflict

Britain's Border Agency announced the firing of an immigration officer in January. Reportedly, the man had turned sour on his marriage and, while his wife was visiting her family in Pakistan, added his wife's name to the terrorist list of people not allowed into the country. His ploy worked—for three years. Officials only found out when the man applied for a promotion and his wife's name popped up as a potential terrorist.

News That Sounds Like a Joke


The manager of the Channel Islands Co-operative store in the British territory of Jersey acknowledged to BBC News in November that a shopper's complaint was justified and that refunds would be made—the customer believed she had been overcharged by about 5 pounds (about $8) because, while weighing fruits and vegetables, the clerk had been leaning over so far that her breasts accidentally increased pressure on the scale.

Tough Guys

  • In Long Beach, Calif., in February, police arrested two 19-year-old men, Kirk Lewis and Daniel Bard, and charged them as two of the three men they sought in the robbery of a 5-year-old girl.
  • Timothy James Chapek, 24, was charged with burglary in March after he broke into a house in Portland, Ore., and took a shower. The homeowner returned to the house while Chapek was still in the shower and confronted him with her two German shepherds and a gun. Chapek locked himself in the bathroom and dialed 911, begging for officers to come quickly and arrest him. (Chapek, later released on bond, was re-arrested two days later in Chehalis, Wash. According to police, he was loading shoplifted goods into a stolen car.)

Geek-on-Geek Crime

In March, a teenager was charged with attempting to rob the Fun 4 All comic-book store in Southfield, Mich., with a homemade bomb (which looked realistic, but turned out to be harmless). Instead of asking for money, the teen presented a list of merchandise he wanted. After the clerk balked at the demands, the robber relented, paid cash for a few of the items on the list, and left. When arrested later, he called the incident a "social experiment."

Great Art!


In February, a New York City gallery began offering classes in "anthropomorphic taxidermy," described as a "Victorian hobby" in which mouse carcasses are not only meticulously cleaned and stuffed, but also outfitted in handmade, miniature 19th-century clothing, such as bloomers. British practitioners are said to have created elaborate scenes featuring scores of the costumed bodies. Class instructor Susan Jeiven said the mice must have a "classy" look. "I don't like rogue taxidermy," she said.

Least Competent Criminals


Not Ready for Prime Time: Michael Trias, 20, was arrested in March in Mesa, Ariz., after a botched residential burglary. According to police, Trias entered the house through a window and landed in a clothes basket made of PVC and netting. He became entangled in the basket and his flailing attempts to free himself alerted the homeowner.

The Weirdo-American Community


A 50-year-old man was charged with indecent exposure near Yakima, Wash., in March when he jumped in front of a woman with his genitals exposed—while otherwise dressed in a diver's wet suit, mask and bright orange gloves.

A News of the Weird Classic


India's legal system is notoriously among the world's most leisurely paced. In December 1990 in New Delhi, four men (ages 82, 71, 63 and 62) were acquitted of accusations that they defrauded a government-run transport company by buying bogus motor parts. The men had been charged with the crime in 1955 (when they were, respectively, 47, 36, 28 and 27 years old), and the trial began in 1957. Hearings continued, off and on, for 33 years before Judge V.B. Gupta concluded in December that the government had failed to prove its case.

© 2011 Chuck Shepherd