Today, for your amusement, I have a selection of strange, but true, news items:
Torvald Alexander, 39, was able to chase away the unlucky home invader who hit his apartment on Dec. 31 in Edinburgh, Scotland, according to a BBC News report. The two men inadvertently came face to face just as Alexander was preparing to leave for a New Year's party, dressed in full regalia as Thor, the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder. Alexander said the burglar took one look at him, turned and climbed hurriedly out a window, sliding down a sloped roof and landing on the ground, where he took off running.
Nathaniel Johnson, 19, was arrested in March in Tampa on burglary charges when police produced solid evidence of his presence in a neighborhood that had reported several break-ins. Johnson was revealed to be at each crime scene because he was traced by the ankle monitor he was wearing from a previous court appearance.
In February, David Hampton, 23, was charged in Charlotte County, Fla., with robbing a BP gas station and became the latest such robber to run out of gas in his getaway car even though minutes earlier, obviously, he had been present at a gas station.
A masked man escaped in December after trying unsuccessfully to rob the Washman carwash in Portland, Ore. In the middle of the job, the man's gun literally broke apart and fell to the ground. As he continued to demand money, it became clear why robbing a carwash is tricky. The employee grabbed the nearest tool, which was the wand of a pressure washer (2,000 pounds per square inch) and hosed the robber, sending him fleeing.
Matthew Peverada was arrested in Portland, Maine, in December and charged with attempting to rob Dipietro's Market. His first attempt, at about 4 p.m., was rebuffed, but he announced that he'd be back at 11 p.m., and that they'd better have some money for him. He returned, and police were waiting.
Michael Reed, 50, was charged with attempted robbery of Eddie's Fried Chicken in Fort Worth, Texas, in December. He was armed only with a tree branch and was quickly neutralized by a 56-year-old employee, who grabbed a broom, and the men proceeded to duel until Reed dropped his branch and fled (but was arrested nearby).
A 49-year-old Leavenworth, Kan., man was hospitalized in November after (according to police) using a front-end loader to pluck an ATM from the Frontier Credit Union. He was hurt when he drove to the edge of a 50-foot embankment and tried to drop the ATM, imagining that the fall would break it open, but instead, he, the loader, and the ATM all crashed to the bottom.
William Jarrett, 38, was charged in Hempstead Village, N.Y., in November with swiping a necklace from a 32-year-old pregnant woman and running off. Despite her condition, the woman chased him, screaming, for six blocks and caught up with him just as a police officer was arriving on the scene
Jose Diaz Jr., 35, was arrested and charged with shoplifting from a Wal-Mart in Madison Township, Ohio, in October after attempting to run from the store with a digital camera. He first crashed into the glass front door (which looked open, but was closed), cutting himself badly, but then exited into the parking lot, where he almost immediately ran into a cement post, allowing security personnel to catch up with him.
What started as a "strong-arm" street robbery in Warren, Mich., in October, ended when the victim turned out to be stronger than the perp. When it was over, the victim had gotten his money back, plus $30 of the mugger's as the man fled, according to a police report in the Macomb Daily.