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Police in Des Moines, Washington, captured two teenaged bank robbers in January. Several citizens reported seeing two kids cruising very slowly back and forth in front of the bank in a run-down car and then going inside. As the kids leapt into their car to get away, they discovered the battery was dead. They got out to check under the hood and locked their keys and loot inside. Then they panicked and fled on foot, running straight into a passing police cruiser.

Questionable Judgments

Muscular bodybuilders Bridget Morton, 20, and Lorie Sencer, 28, sued the city of Costa Mesa, California, in November because police officers, believing they were men, stopped them as they were emerging from a women's rest room at a rock concert. Morton claimed she was forced to drop her pants to prove her gender. Sencer said she tried to reason with the officers, saying, "Everything's cool. We're women. Look at our [clothed] breasts."

In June a Davenport, Iowa, man who had just suffered a heart attack and was awaiting evacuation to a hospital was kept inside an ambulance at the airport for more than two hours. The plane he was supposed to get on could not land because the airport was "closed" for an air show.

John Raber, Elyria (Ohio) High School principal, resigned and was charged with a felony last summer for allegedly changing his daughter's grades (she graduated from the school in June).

In August two Swedish government nurses hired to accompany a 31-year-old mentally ill man on a vacation to Turkey accidentally lost the man at the Stockholm airport, and after looking around for him for "over an hour" decided to take the vacation without him. Though the nurses had the man's ticket and passport, one said the man "can cope by himself." He was eventually found and returned to the hospital "in worse condition."

In November police in Rio de Janeiro arrested landlord Cesario Vieira da Cruz, 64. Distraught after four years of failure in court battles to evict his tenants because he thought they paid too little rent, he was caught attempting to pour acid into his building's water supply.

Police in San Diego arrested William H. Hart, 75, in January after he allegedly robbed a bank of $70 while in his motorized wheelchair threatening to blow up the bank with nitroglycerin. He managed to get only two blocks away before police caught up with him, and the only nitro on him was in his heart pills.

The former leader of Czechoslovakia's Communist Party, Vasil Mohorita, was dismissed from a parliamentary committee in December. Party members charged that the dismissal was political, but the committee's official reason was that Mohorita was caught chewing gum during a speech by visiting French president Francois Mitterrand.

Frustrated by delays and jail overcrowding, New York City federal judge Morris Lasker ruled in November that jailed criminal suspects who are not provided with beds within 24 hours must be paid $150 immediately plus $100 for every 12 hours until a bed is found.

In January 26-year-old Bernard Sexton of Cambridge, Illinois, withdrew his guilty plea to misdemeanor alcohol charges and pleaded instead to a related felony, good for an 18-month sentence. Reason: the county jail where misdemeanants are sent bans smoking, but the state prison permits it.

In December police in Omaha, Nebraska, arrested Dr. Bruce Harvey, the only doctor on duty at the Clarkson Hospital emergency room, because he refused to draw blood from a drunk-driving suspect quickly enough, thus jeopardizing the police's case against the man. (Harvey was attending to other patients.) The emergency room was thus left unattended for about an hour.

A 29-year-old man from Troy, Virginia, was arrested in September on suspicion of rape of a University of Virginia student. The victim said the man, after raping her, held a knife to her throat and asked her to write him out a check payable to the man's cousin.

According to Thonglor Markmee, a guardian of the Erawan Hindu shrine in downtown Bangkok, increasingly larger crowds have made impractical the traditional nude dancing by females who visit the shrine to ask for good luck. Instead, he reports, some visitors seeking good luck have taken to leaving X-rated videos inside the shrine.

Laurel Vutano, 33, a teacher in Pinellas County, Florida, was suspended in November for being affectionate with her boyfriend in front of her second-grade class and for encouraging her students (with 50-cent offers) to make obnoxious phone calls to her boyfriend's estranged wife. The wife reported "many" calls "from little voices."

A few weeks before the crash of a USAir jet at Los Angeles International Airport in February, the company (to save money following 1990 losses) cut in half its maximum insurance coverage on its planes. The changes took place as of 12:01 AM on the day of the crash.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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