'Only in the coal region,' or everywhere in the US?
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Probably the most frequent comment from readers following reports of any "odd" local story is, "Only in the coal region!"
Well, not really. Strange news happens everywhere, everyday.
The Associated Press, in fact, has a regular slug for such stories, appropriately labeled, "ODD."
So with due apologies to Santa being shot with a BB gun right here a number of years ago, here are some "odd" happenings from the past week across the U.S.
Police in Colorado baffled by detergent thefts: As is sometimes the case with odd stories, there is an element of both humor and seriousness. This story reported how supermarkets across Colorado are installing more surveillance cameras to combat the rising tide of detergent thefts - including one in Fort Lupton in which a suspect got away with more than $8,000 in detergent from six stores. Authorities believe thieves are targeting those products because of high prices, and Tide in particular has been used as currency for drugs.
Prostitution sting lures woman straight to police: Authorities in Portland, Ore., said a 20-year-old city woman drove 50 miles to reach the man she thought was her client after being solicited for prostitution through phone and text messages. "But there was something unusual about the destination: It was the Salem Police Department," the story said. "Stranger still, police say the woman walked past several uniformed officers and clearly marked signs reading 'Salem Police Department' before arriving at an unmarked door, where they say she attempted to contact the man she thought was her client. Instead, she was arrested."
$600 lost at courthouse was claimed by wrong man: A story out of Pittsburgh described how a man mistakenly forgot an envelope containing $600 when he emptied his pockets to go through a metal detector at the courthouse. "About 90 minutes later, another man approached a deputy manning the detector and claimed to have forgotten the money. Only trouble is, the man to whom the money really belonged returned later to claim it, only to learn that it was already claimed by the other man."
Deputies are reviewing court logs and surveillance video to determine who claimed the money, and that person could be charged with theft.
Police: Pa. man has foot severed by train: Again, "odd" isn't always 100 percent funny. In Ferndale in western Pennsylvania, a man had his right foot severed after he walked into an oncoming train. Ferndale police told WJAC-TV that the man was walking along the sidewalk in the Cambria County borough Friday as the train approached on its way from Johnstown to Ferndale. The engineer told officials that he blew the horn several times to alert the man, who police said was wearing a hoodie and - you guessed it - talking on a phone.
Sheriff: Calif. burglar was using sauna: Out of San Andreas, Calif., is this tale about a man who was arrested in nothing but a trench coat and socks after a break-in. He told investigators he had been using the homeowner's sauna. The suspect told investigators he thought the house was vacant, and he had used the sauna there in the past.
We're certain in these and other cases, hometown folks lament in the fact that such odd news only happens "here."
(Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In News" for each Saturday edition.)