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UPI NewsTrack Quirks in the News

Jan. 29, 2013 at 5:00 PM   |   Comments

Thieves foiled by manual transmission

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A Florida man said a pair of attempted carjackers fled on foot when they were unable to work the manual transmission on his Corvette.

Randolph Bean, 51, said he was in his 2002 Corvette after 11 p.m. outside the Orlando Regional Medical Center when two men approached the vehicle, pointed a gun at him and forced him to the ground, WOFL-TV, Orlando, reported Tuesday.

Bean said the thieves soon demanded to know how to work the vehicle.

"They apparently couldn't start it. I had to tell him four different times to push in the clutch, because it's a standard transmission," he said. "My first thought was I guess we don't have driver's ed in school anymore because no one knows how to drive a stick. And my second thing was, don't shoot me because you can't start the car. I'm trying to help you out here. You know. Thankfully they didn't."

Police were unable to locate the suspects, who fled on foot with Bean's phone, keys and wallet.


Two bank robbery attempts in one day

WANTAGH, N.Y., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A woman attempted to rob two banks in suburban New York City with no luck, police said.

At the teller's window of a TD Bank in Wantagh, on Long Island, Sunday afternoon, the woman demanded $5,000, but the teller "directed the suspect to a customer services representative," said Nassau County police Sgt. John Giambrone.

When she sat down at the representative's desk, the teller pushed an alarm button, the New York Post reported.

The suspect asked, "Did someone press the alarm?" before hurrying from the bank.

About 30 minutes later the suspect visited another TD Bank branch in nearby East Meadow, this time claiming she had a bomb and demanding cash, the newspaper said.

The teller complied and handed her cash and a dye pack that exploded and covered the fleeing woman with ink, Giambrone said.

She was later seen dumping the money, police said.

"She didn't do well," Giambrone commented.


Coke and dogs in 4th grade science project

CORAL GABLES, Fla., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A Florida fourth grader's science project involved nearly an ounce of cocaine, three drug-sniffing dogs and the cooperation of police.

Emma Bartelt, 10, was the mastermind behind the "Drug Sniffing Dogs" science project, which won first place at the Coral Gables Preparatory Academy science fair and an honorable mention Saturday at the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Elementary Science Fair at Miami Dade College, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

"The purpose for this scientific investigation was to find which dog would find the cocaine fastest using its sense of smell," Emma wrote in the abstract for the experiment.

Emma received assistance from the Miami-Dade Police Narcotics Bureau, which supplied the cocaine and the dogs under the supervision of her father, Detective Douglas Bartelt, as well as Detective William Pedraja and Sgt. Samantha Machado.

"It was kinda my idea, because I wanted to do my dad's job," Emma said.

Michelle Bartelt, the girl's mother, said the experiment was conducted at police facilities and her daughter did not come into contact with the cocaine.

"He handled the drugs," she said of her husband. "He's always very meticulous about how he handles drugs."


Pizzeria helps guardsman with wife's B-day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A Florida pizzeria teamed with an Army National Guard major serving in Afghanistan to make his wife's birthday meal a special surprise.

Maj. Shawn Fulker emailed pizza chain Mellow Mushroom's corporate website Thursday to ask about paying with his credit card over the phone to have a pizza and a $50 gift card delivered to his wife at their Jacksonville, Fla., home, ABC News reported Tuesday.

However, Brooke Chafee, a manager at the Jacksonville store, and her workers decided they would not only honor Fulker's request free of charge, but they would add a few special touches to the delivery.

"We had the cook make a heart-shaped pizza, and then we stopped by the nearest Publix (supermarket) to get flowers and then we picked up balloons, just to kind of make it special," Chafee said.

The birthday surprise was delivered Thursday to Josephine Fulker.

John Valentino, who owns the Mellow Mushroom franchise as well as a few other locations in the city, said he was happy his store was able to help Shawn Fulker.

"Of course we weren't going to charge him for anything," Valentino said. "Him being a serviceman and his wife being home ... Hopefully in her husband's absence we were able to help her have a great birthday while he's over in Afghanistan serving our country."

Shawn Fulker said the company's gesture helped him feel closer to home.

"I miss my wife and son so much, and seeing that photo of them smiling at my front door brought tears to my eyes," he wrote. "When I received the email and photo from Mellow Mushroom I was sitting at my desk, and had to get up and leave the room to compose myself. I am very grateful for that moment."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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