Mad Minute stories from Monday, February 12th

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Police are hoping social media - and a little humor - will help them find a life-size Big Bird figure that was stolen from a business in Fort Collins.

The police department took to Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday, asking "Can you tell us how to get (how to get) to the suspect's street?"

The 6-foot-tall figure was taken from a business in downtown over Thanksgiving weekend, and investigators said in the social media posts that "Fowl play is suspected."

The posts also said that Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie are waiting back at the business and hope to be reunited with their friend soon.

Police added: "Needless to say, (the theft) really ruffled some feathers."


LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Lincoln man has been accused of sending a faked fax to Lancaster County Jail in an effort to free a friend.

Online court records say Justin Colbert pleaded not guilty Monday to misdemeanor abuse of public records. His next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22.

Authorities say Colbert's fake fax said it was from Lancaster County Court and said a bond payment of $25,000 had been made for a jail inmate who should be freed. The inmate was Colbert's friend.

But jail officials' suspicions were raised because the fax had arrived on a Saturday, July 23, when the courts were closed, and the fax had come from a web service with an attached email and phone number that didn't match the court number.


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- A 10-year-old surfer has had a close encounter with a photo-bombing shark that shared a wave with him off an Australian beach.

Chris Hasson said Thursday that he was taking photos of his son Eden riding a wave off Samurai Beach at Port Stephens, 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of Sydney, on Tuesday when something unexpected and indistinct caught his eye.

He discovered he had photographed the face of a twisting shark just below the surface with his son on an apparent collision course.

"I saw the second photo and (thought) - no way," Hasson told the AP. "I quickly called him in and whistled."

"He (Eden) saw a shape in the wave and thought it was seaweed and felt something as he went over the top - he got his leg rope caught on something - but he thought nothing of it until he saw the photo," Hasson said.

James Cook University shark researcher Andrew Chin said the photographed shark was possibly a small great white.

"From the angle, it looks like the shark was spooked and is rolling away from the board to escape it," Chin said. "There is no way that this is a hunting approach."

Eden said he was glad he hadn't seen the shark until he was safe on the beach and saw the photo.

"If I was on the wave and saw it, I probably would've freaked out and fell off," Eden told Nine Network television on Thursday. "I was lucky I didn't fall off."

Port Stephens is on the northern coast of New South Wales state which has experienced an extraordinary increase in shark attacks since a Japanese tourist was killed by a great white in early 2015.

Hasson said he was back in the surf with Eden and his siblings, aged 12 and 5, on Wednesday to enjoy the final week of the school summer vacation.

"Everyone's back to business. It's too good a lifestyle sport not to," Hasson said.


BERLIN (AP) -- Police in northwestern Germany are searching for a brazen thief - or thieves - who knocked down the wall of a house with a tractor and made off with a safe.

Police say the tractor was used early Thursday morning to bash down the wall of the home in the town of Buende, west of Hannover, according to the dpa news agency.

The thief or thieves grabbed the safe and fled, and the John Deer farm tractor was left halfway inside the house.

Authorities say the home's residents weren't harmed in the robbery but refused to say what was being kept in the safe or to give any further information because of the ongoing investigation.


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida woman has been charged after police say she hit an officer with a tampon.

Local news outlets report that 28-year-old Tacora Fields was arrested and charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer.

A police report says Fields was involved in a fight when a St. Petersburg police officer responded.

Police say Fields threatened to hit the officer with her tampon. Authorities say Fields then removed the feminine hygiene product and threw it at the officer, hitting him in the shoulder.

Police say Fields tried to flee the scene, but the officer used a stun gun on her and she was taken into custody. It's unclear if she has an attorney.


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Kraft Heinz says the Monday after the Super Bowl will be a day off for its salaried employees, and it has launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign to make the day - dubbed "Smunday" - a national holiday.

The food producing giant is co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, neither of which has a team in the Feb. 5 game.

The company has started a petition and launched a website, . If enough signatures are collected, Kraft Heinz says it will send the petition to Congress "in the hopes of making this dream a reality."

The day off for employees stands whether or not the petition succeeds. The petition claims more than 16 million people call in sick or miss work the day after the game.

The company says the decision impacts "thousands of employees" but wasn't more specific.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A West Virginia man has admitted to leaving a casino to rob a bank before returning to continue gambling.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports 52-year-old Kerry Johnson of Charleston pleaded guilty Wednesday to a robbery charge.

Johnson had been at the Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro for hours Aug. 2 when he put down a $25 chip to hold his spot. Prosecutors said Johnson then drove 13 miles to a Charleston bank and gave tellers a note saying he had a bomb and a weapon and robbed it.

Johnson then returned to the blackjack table and kept gambling.

Johnson told a judge he'd taken quite a few drugs that day, but recognized himself after seeing video from the bank.

He faces five to 18 years in prison when sentenced in March.


CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (AP) -- Authorities say a 26-year-old western New York man has admitted to posing as a police officer during a traffic stop with a real cop.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office says Corey Shepard, of Cheektowaga, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that include criminal possession of a forged instrument, criminal impersonation and menacing.

Prosecutors say he called 911 last October to report an erratic driver and claimed he was an off-duty Buffalo officer. He was wearing a police uniform when he joined the Cheektowaga officer who pulled over the driver.

Police became suspicious and checked out Shepard's claim. They found out he worked for a local security systems company and had a stockpile of police-related equipment and fake badges at his home.

He faces up to eight years in prison when he's sentenced April 6.


FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) - The owner of a Tennessee knitting store doesn't want anyone buying its yarn for arts and crafts for the women's movement.

The Tennessean reported comments Tuesday on the Facebook page of The Joy of Knitting store in Franklin drew thousands of responses - both support and vows of a boycott.

The social media post by Elizabeth Poe said the "vulgarity, vile and evilness" of the women's movement is "absolutely despicable." She framed her comments around Saturday's massive women's march in Washington.

As a business owner and Christian, Poe wrote, she promotes "mutual respect, love ... and integrity" and called the movement "counterproductive" to unity.

Thousands of movement marchers Saturday wore pink knitted, pointy-eared hats they called "pussyhats" - partly responding to Trump's past caught-on-camera remarks about grabbing women's genitalia.


( SUMMERFIELD, Fla. -   Florida man was arrested this week, accused of burglarizing his neighbor's home and then reporting the break-in to 911 in an attempt to cover up the crime, investigators said.

Jefferey Allen Dove, 27, is accused of committing the crime while the homeowner was in the hospital for five days, officials said.

When the victim returned to his home in Summerfield, he found computers, jewelry and a set of leather snake-head bracelets missing, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

The homeowner started asking his neighbors if they had seen anything.

After telling Dove what had been taken, the suspect returned the snake-head bracelets the next day. He claimed he had bought them from someone in the neighborhood, investigators said.

When deputies looked into the case further, they realized Dove had called 911 on Jan. 8 to report that the victim's home was unsecured.

A deputy responded to the house in the 4900 block of SE 148th Place, met with Dove, secured the home and left, the sheriff's office said.

A neighbor told the victim that he had surveillance video from the time of the burglary that showed a man entering and leaving the home several times, investigators said.

The victim identified the man in the video as Dove, deputies said.

When investigators interviewed Dove, he denied taking anything from the home.

He was arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft.

He was being held at the Marion County Jail in lieu of a $7,000 bond.


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