x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

2011 in review: a year of oddballs and other oddities

Turf wars over Starbucks, a would-be burglar calling police during his own crime, and more in from this year in the strangest News You Can Lose.

January 8 Superheroes of Seattle

A gang of real-life superheroes began fighting crime on the streets of a Seattle suburb. One, known as "Phoenix Jones", wore a bulletproof suit with anti-stab plates and carried a can of mace and a Taser. In one swoop he prevented an attempt to break into a car. "From the right, this guy comes dashing in, wearing this skintight rubber, black and gold suit and starts chasing him away," the motorist said.

February 5 Husband puts wife on terrorist watch list

A British immigration officer who wanted to get rid of his wife added her name to a terrorist watch list to prevent her from flying home. The man illegally accessed government databases in the UK to list his spouse as someone whose presence in the country was "not conducive to the public good". As a result, the woman was blocked from entering Britain for three years after leaving the country to visit her family in Pakistan. The officer was sacked for "gross misconduct".

March 11 Robber calls cops on homeowner

A burglar called police from a house he had just broken into because he feared the owner was downstairs with a gun. Timothy Chapek had locked himself in an upstairs bathroom after being confronted by the homeowner and his two German shepherds. Police in Portland, in the US state of Oregon, received an emergency call from Chapek, 24. After arriving at the house, officers arrested the intruder and charged him with criminal trespass.

March 19 High diver makes little splash

An American high diver broke his own record by plunging 11 metres into a pool of water just 30 centimetres deep. Darren Taylor performed the feat by landing safely in a child's paddling pool set up in Trondheim, Norway. He has now had 13 shallow-diving records accepted by the Guinness World Records.

May 7 Man buys drugs, complains to police

Police in South Carolina received an emergency call from a man who complained that he had been short-changed by his drug dealer. Dexter White, 41, asked officers to investigate why he had only been given US$20 (Dh73) worth of crack cocaine despite handing the dealer $60. He was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct.

May 21 New sharpener museum has a point

A new museum opened to display the world's largest collection of pencil sharpeners. The Rev Paul Johnson had accumulated more than 3,400 sharpeners by the time of his death last year. The museum was opened in a visitors' centre near his home in Carbon Hill, in the midwestern US state of Ohio.

June 4 Brazilian bites the bullet: with false teeth

A set of dentures saved the life of an elderly Brazilian man when they deflected a bullet during a bar-room shoot-out. Zacarias Pacheco de Moraes, 81, was struck in the face when shooting started at the bar he owned in the city of Alta Floresta. Doctors said that the bullet would have gone through his brain, killing him instantly, had it not taken a deflection off his false teeth.

July 9 Man waits two weeks for friend to arrive at airport

A Polish man spent more than two weeks waiting at Brazil's Sao Paulo airport for a friend who never showed up. Robert Parzelski arrived from London on June 17, but apparently was too scared to venture outside when there was no one to meet him. He decided to wait on a concrete bench, telling baffled airport staff in broken English: "I'm Poland." He was returned to London 18 days after setting out.

August 6 The NY Hillbillies of Prospect Park

A gang of poachers were arrested in a New York park. The group - described as looking like the "Beverly Hillbillies" - were seen roasting a pigeon over a fire that they had built in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Park officers found that they had also caught fish from the park's ornamental lake, trapped ducks and had even eaten squirrels. The poachers were issued with fines totalling US$2,100 (Dh7,700).

September 24 Parents try to force son, 41, from home

A fed-up elderly couple in Italy went to court to make their 41-year-old son leave home. They said he had a job but refused to fly the nest, insisted on having his clothes laundered and his meals cooked for him. The son was given six days to leave before the Venetian courts issued his parents with a protection order against him.

October 29 Biker gang fights it out over killer lattes

A gangland turf war described as the worst biker feud in California for a decade was understood to have been prompted by a row over who got to drink lattes at a Starbucks. At least three men were killed and a number of others injured in fighting between the Hells Angels and Vagos biker gangs. Police said the war was started by an argument over who had the right to the best tables at a coffee shop in Santa Cruz. The city's police chief said: "Only in Santa Cruz would you have biker wars over who's going to control pumpkin spice lattes."

jlangton@thenational.ae