Rash of statue thefts hits California
ESCONDIDO, Calif., March 29 (UPI) -- Thieves have been carrying off statues -- some weighing hundreds of pounds -- from lawns across San Diego County, Calif., authorities say.
Many of the stolen sculptures are metal and may be targeted for scrap, Sgt. Christina Bavencoff of the Ramona Sheriff's Substation told the North County Times of Escondido.
At least 18 statues have been stolen in 13 thefts reported since Oct. 14, law enforcement records show. Their total estimated value is $43,820.
"If you have stuff outside, lock it down if you can, and if you see anything suspicious, let us know," Bavencoff warned. "If people do have artwork, it would be in their best interest to mark it somehow so if it is stolen, we can trace it."
She said no arrests have been made, and it is not known if the crimes are related.
The missing statues include two bronze horses in Solana Beach, two Buddhas in Vista, a bronze horse in Rancho Santa Fe, a life-sized copper statue of three children in Bonita and a 600-pound bronze moose and a life-sized aluminum colt, both in Ramona.
As scrap-metal prices have risen, authorities have been scrutinizing metal-recycling businesses.
U.K. aircraft carrier up for bids
LONDON, March 29 (UPI) -- The British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal can be yours, courtesy of the U.K. Ministry of Defense auction Web site, authorities said.
The former flagship of the Royal Navy was decommissioned two weeks ago years as part of the government's defense budget review after serving with the fleet for 25, the BBC reported.
Interested auction bidders can view Ark Royal at her home port, Portsmouth Naval Base, on May 3 and 4, authorities said.
Bidders wishing to inspect the carrier must submit an outline of their "intentions regarding the vessel" to the Ministry of Defense, the BBC said.
There have been proposals to turn it into a commercial heliport, a base for security personnel during the London Olympics, or a school and nightclub.
Ark Royal's operations have included spearheading British naval forces during the invasion of Iraq.
For those who can't quite manage the purchase of an aircraft carrier, there are also three destroyers -- HMS Exeter, HMS Southampton and HMS Nottingham -- up for auction, the BBC reported.
Long-silent Ore. school bell to toll again
PORTLAND, Ore., March 29 (UPI) -- A bell at a Portland school will ring out the start of the school day for the first time in more than 40 years, school officials said.
St. Mary's Academy in downtown Portland acquired the 222-pound bell in 1862 and placed it in the bell tower of the school's original building on Portland's Fourth Avenue, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Monday.
The bell has not rung since 1970, when it was moved to Marylhurst College after the demolition of the original St. Mary's building in 1970.
It was then moved to a garden at Mary's Woods Retirement Home in Lake Oswego, Ore., when that facility opened in 2001.
The bell was returned to St. Mary's, now located on Southwest Fifth Avenue, during the school's 150th anniversary celebration in 2009 as a gift from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
The 148-year-old bell will toll at 7:55 a.m. to start the school day with prayers, school officials said.
"The purpose of the bell has always been to call our school community to prayer," St. Mary's Academy President Christina Friedhoff said. "Given the many needs in our world at this time and the power of prayer, the return of the bell is very meaningful."
Woman buys term paper, then complains
ST. PAUL, Minn., March 29 (UPI) -- A woman who ordered a custom-written term paper from a Minnesota company says she complained to the Better Business Bureau when it didn't arrive on time.
Despite that fact that submitting a purchased paper as her own work would constitute academic cheating, the Colorado woman complained to the Minnesota BBB about Essaywritingcompany.com, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported Sunday.
"I ordered it, and they were supposed to have it back to me within four days," the woman told the Pioneer Press. "I constantly e-mailed. Nobody replied to me."
Numerous complaints have been made against the company, which has resolved most of those registered with the Minnesota BBB, the newspaper said.
However, BBB President and Chief Executive Officer Dana Badgerow calls Essaywritingcompany.com owner Jordan Kavoosi an "entrepreneur who is skating on the thin edge of legality, and for sure he's plunged into what we think is unethical behavior."
Kavoosi said he's not worried about making a living helping students to commit academic cheating that can result in failing grades or worse if they're caught.
"It doesn't bother me at all. I just see it as a business. It's as if I was selling shoes," Kavoosi said. "I just chose something that would make money ... and was kind of catchy and would help people out."
Educators say the risk of being caught is not the only downside of buying a term paper.
"When students skip the steps of actually doing the work, which is when the learning occurs, they're cheating themselves," Dan Wackman, a professor in the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said. "That woman is cheating herself. It's her own loss."
Every class syllabus at his school is required to have a section on academic misconduct, including plagiarism and cheating, Wackman said.