Taking Arachnophobia To The Extreme

Hey, lots of people have a touch of arachnophobia — fear of spiders — but most of us kinda control it, just grittin’ our teeth and grimacing while we stomp or swat ’em. But Eiliya Maida, of Chico, Calif., went a little too far, according to local firefighters.

Apparently, he was so freaked out by all the spider webs in the shrubs around his house, and so determined to avoid contact with them, that he fired up a blowtorch nozzle on a 5-gallon propane tank and burned ’em out, utterly! He didn’t realize how “utterly” until his brother-in-law, who lives nearby, pointed out that his roof and attic were on fire.

The Fire Department got there quickly and kept the loss down to an estimated $25,000, but that was a pretty expensive bug-spray job. A spokesman for the fire department advised against using flamethrowers on spiderwebs, saying “It’s a common sense thing.” Trouble is, you gotta have common sense.

Language Barrier Foils Robbery

Three suspects, three victims and two languages sometimes add up to zero loot in an armed robbery.

When three masked pistol-waving thugs stormed the New China restaurant in Orlando, Fla., they made themselves perfectly clear — in English. They wanted the money, specifically all the money in the cash register. When the three employees tried to interest them in a menu and offered food, the thug triplets figured out the fact there was a communications problem. So, they began gesturing threateningly and, we’re sure they thought, articulately. Well, not articulately enough.

The next step was to engage in elaborate pantomime, which seemed to entertain but not educate the staff, who speak only Cantonese. Even putting a gun to the head of one employee didn’t get their business message across.

Finally, one of the crooks fired a shot, apparently accidentally. No one was hurt. The combination of cop-attracting noise and a lack of progress in getting anything green besides a small bowl of peppered peas convinced the lads to make their exit, empty handed.

The Benefits Of Pre-Planning

It’s right there in the robbery-for-dummies book — but these two hapless hairballs apparently didn’t read it: When pulling two-man stickups, always coordinate your actions and rehearse the job before you go in.

Unless these guys are caught and they talk, we’ll probably never know how this armed robbery was supposed to go down. Envision two guys storming into a 7-Eleven in Arlington, Va. The first dude whips out a pistol, points it at the clerk and demands cash.

Right on his heels, the second idiot lights a firecracker and throws it on the floor. When it goes off with a mighty bang, suspect number one just about jumps out of his skin, drops his gun clattering on the deck, and flees out the door at top speed! After standing there slack-jawed and gaping for a second, suspect number two spins around and runs out, too! Loss: Zero.

Police invite theories, mostly for sheer entertainment value.

Rookie Criminal Mistake

Police in Belfast, Northern Ireland, considered Joseph O’Callaghan’s screwy attempt at bank robbery to be a simple “rookie’s mistake” — the kind of little error brand-new criminals sometimes make.

Joseph confronted an armored car guard in front of the Northern Bank, got the drop on him and relieved him of the cashbox he was carrying. The problem was, the guard was on his way in to the bank, so the strongbox was empty. Had he waylaid the guard on the way out, it would have netted him at least a couple of thousand bucks.

Even though Joe’s take was zero, police still sought him out for stupidity and rudeness, we guess. He was convicted of armed robbery — the loss being the empty cashbox — and sentenced to nine years in prison.

We Knew This One Was Coming

Regular readers might remember our reporting on the case of Samuel Cutrufelli. He’s the guy who broke into the Greenbrae, Calif., home of 90-year-old World War II vet Jay Leone, mistakenly thinking the former exotic car collector would have piles of cash on hand. He didn’t. When Leone reached for a hidden handgun, Cutrufelli shot him in the face, then pointed his gun at Leone’s head and pulled the trigger. It didn’t go bang because he was out of bullets. Jay’s gun wasn’t, and the slug in his jaw had really ticked him off. Jay shot Cutrufelli multiple times.

Cutrufelli has now filed a lawsuit claiming that Leone “negligently” shot him. Apparently he feels that since he ran out of bullets after shooting a 90-year-old guy in the face, shooting him was unnecessary, and probably rude and damaging to his self-esteem. Unfortunately, this happened in California. We await the results with bated breath, but not much hope for justice.

Too Stupid To Be At Large

Hannah Sabata, a 19-year-old girl, did such an efficient job of robbing the Cornerstone Bank in Waco, Neb., that the police were left with few clues to go on. Her getaway car turned out to be stolen, and she left no incriminating evidence at the scene.

But the investigation wasn’t all that tough to pursue after she posted a video bragging about her score on YouTube. Hannah called her video “Chick Bank Robber,” during which she also boasted of heisting that “shiny Pontiac Grand Am,” and posed fanning a big wad of cash. Holding up signs explaining how she carried out her crime, with Green Day tunes playing in the background, she laid out the robbery in detail. The cops got the car, the cash and the culprit — quickly.

A Simple Solution?

Last August, when a representative of the Inspector General’s office visited the regional headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Winston-Salem, N.C., he found a serious and immediate threat to the lives and safety of employees in the building. The sheer weight of unresolved, backed up claims had actually bowed the deck of the sixth floor, threatening imminent collapse. Officials acted quickly, removing the excessive files to other locations.
Myself and other veterans have long suggested another approach to the problem: Process the claims!
By Commander Gilmore

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