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July 10, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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Police: Riding mower thief didn't get far

SPOKANE, Wash., July 10 (UPI) -- Spokane, Wash., police say they arrested a man they allege burglarized a home and made his getaway with guns and money on a riding mower.

Police said in a release Monday Robert More, 22, admitted stealing the guns because he was prohibiting from owning a firearm legally, and he wanted one.

Police said the victimized couple discovered the loss Thursday evening when they returned from a Fourth of July holiday.

Sheriff's deputies had already recovered the lawnmower when the call came in from the victims, and had impounded it for safekeeping, since it had not yet been reported stolen when officers found it abandoned about 7 miles from the home where it been stolen. Police found the lawnmower after receiving a call about 9 a.m. about a suspicious person riding a lawnmower and carrying a rifle or shotgun.

Deputies started getting more calls about a suspicious person Thursday afternoon and found Morey sitting on an embankment. As they spoke with him they confirmed there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

Morey told police he had been arguing with his girlfriend and she put him out of the car on "some road." He said he saw an open garage door and took the lawnmower, the firearms and the coins.

He told deputies he was not legally permitted to own a gun but he wanted one, so he took the firearms. He said he abandoned the riding mower when it ran out of gas.

Morey was being held on multiple charges, including unlawful possession of a firearm, first-degree burglary and theft of a firearm.

Perfect Colo. tree sought for U.S. Capitol

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo., July 10 (UPI) -- Officials in Colorado said they are identifying candidate trees to send to Washington to become next December's U.S. Capitol Christmas tree.

Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor of the White River National Forest, said Colorado hasn't sent a tree to the Capitol since 2000 and he has never before been in charge of the task, leading him to want to "dive under my desk" when the news came in, The Denver Post reported Monday.

"A lot goes into it," Fitzwilliams said. "You think you just put a tree on a truck and send it to Washington. But you can't just chop a tree down and let it fall ... It's a lot of pomp and circumstance, and it's very expensive."

Fitzwilliams said he and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., are identifying 10 to 12 candidate trees for the U.S. Capitol architect to look at next month. The tree will be specially cared for until it is chopped down Nov. 1 and taken on a cross-country tour including stops in Texas, Pennsylvania and the Carolinas.

"Sometimes, I think it's just a tree," Fitzwilliams said. "But it's a very big deal. It's part of a tradition that's been going on for a long time."

Thieves drag ATM from convenience store

HOUSTON, July 10 (UPI) -- A Houston convenience store owner said thieves rammed a pickup truck into his store early Monday and dragged away an ATM.

Rocky Lam, owner of the Quik Saver store on Jensen, said the thieves rammed the pickup truck into the shop around 3 a.m. Monday and left behind the vehicle's tailgate, a Ford emblem, the cover of a red tail light and a piece of heavy chain, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

Lam said the burglars smashed display cases, the checkout counter and rows of shelves in their quest to drag the ATM out of the store.

The business owner said there was about $2,000 in the ATM, which he said was recently moved from its former position near the front door to the rear of the store to deter theft.

Lam said police are investigating the incident.

Eastwood-signed baseball headed for eBay

DUNWOODY, Ga., July 10 (UPI) -- Police in Georgia said they are auctioning off a baseball signed by Clint Eastwood to benefit the state's Special Olympics program.

Dunwoody police said Eastwood signed three baseballs for officers while filming the upcoming movie "Trouble with the Curve" with Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams in April, and one of the balls will be put on eBay to benefit Special Olympics of Georgia, WXIA-TV, Atlanta, reported Monday.

"We approached him about signing baseballs for the Special Olympics work that we do at the police department, and he gladly did," Dunwoody police Sgt. Fidel Espinoza said.

"He was just very down to earth, very approachable," Espinoza said. "We were most impressed with that."

Espinoza said Eastwood also agreed to pose for pictures with officers.

"He began talking to us about his work as the honorary chair of the National Law Enforcement Museum and Monument in Washington," the sergeant said.

Police said the ball will come with a "certificate of authenticity" signed by Dunwoody police Chief Billy Grogan.

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