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Departments : It's a Jungle Out There

Nice Try, But Not Good Enough

June 01, 2004  |  by Commander Gilmore

Carlos DeMarco, 39, was incensed after getting caught on a traffic camera in Sydney, Australia. Photographed speeding at 70 and 75 kph in a 60 kph zone, he was automatically issued a citation carrying a fine of $178. But Carlos was too smart for that—or thought he was.

DeMarco appeared in court and presented the judge with his own photographs showing a 70 kph speed limit sign immediately adjacent to the traffic camera. What Carlos didn't know is that those cameras photograph more than speeding cars. The traffic officers presented evidence that DeMarco had taken a 70 kph speed limit sign from another location, dug up the existing 60 kph sign, then replaced it, photographed it in place, then switched signs again.

His original $178 fine swelled to $900, while his ego shrank down to reflect his IQ.

Cop Saves the Day—and the Phone

A Dutch cop in Wageningen returned to his patrol car from a disturbance call and immediately saw that his cell-phone was missing. Nimble of both brain and foot, he instantly grabbed his partner's cell-phone, dialed his own number, then dashed across the street into a crowd of gawking bystanders. A few seconds later when one guy's pocket started ringing, the unnamed officer put the arm on him.

The guy was pinched for theft and fined $165. Case opened and closed in about five seconds. Not bad.

Spooky Crime Series

Police in the Sicilian city of Canneto di Caronia have been absolutely mystified by a series of incidents that seems to belong on the cover of a supermarket tabloid rather than a police blotter.

Dozens of different items in a wide variety of locations have been simply bursting into flames, in some cases setting fires that burned down entire homes and businesses-and nobody knows how or why.

At first, since a lot of electrical household items like refrigerators, freezers, and fans were going up in smoke, electrical problems were suspected. But then non-electric objects like chairs began spontaneously combusting, as well as appliances that were turned off-and unplugged. The fires have been going on since January.

"I've seen unplugged electrical cables burst into flames with my own eyes, but I just can't explain it," said one policeman who didn't want to be named. The local electric supplier, Enel, even cut off power to the whole town, but the mysterious blazes continued.

Arson investigators and combustion experts have tried and failed to identify the cause. Now they've brought in an exorcist, Gabrielle Amorth, who says it's simple: "Demons occupy a house and appear in electrical goods," she says.

Oh, easy then. Just arrest the demons, right? We'll send a two-officer unit.

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