Mad Minute stories from Monday, February 12th

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) -- Police in New Jersey are looking for a suspect who stole a street sweeper and went on a brief joyride before crashing it.

Paterson police say the theft happened around 2 a.m. Wednesday as a worker was changing a garbage bag on the vehicle.

The suspect drove the vehicle for about a half mile and then crashed into several cars before running away.

No one was injured, but several parked cars were damaged.

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OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (AP) -- The owner of a Connecticut fish market says she is "personally offended" after she saw a photo of a 20-pound (9-kilogram) lobster being handled by a Transportation Security Administration screener on social media.

Lisa Feinman owns Atlantic Seafood Market in Old Saybrook, and says she packed the lobster in a cooler with other lobsters for a customer from Georgia.

TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy later shared a photo of a screener holding the lobster, getting thousands of likes on Instagram.

In a Facebook post, Feinman says the TSA should "leave our personal property alone." She also criticized the way the agent held the lobster, saying he could have snapped off a claw by putting all of its weight on its joints.

The agency has not responded to requests for comment.

 

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey is borrowing more than $300 million to renovate its statehouse, but some of the work to clear old items out is being done by prison inmates.

Department of Corrections spokesman Matt Schuman said Tuesday the inmates are working as part of the state's DEPTCOR program, which allows towns and state agencies to use inmate labor for projects.

The program's website says it employees 900 incarcerated men and women across the state. The inmates are voluntarily assigned to projects to develop usable skills.

Schuman says the inmates will move the furniture, refurbish it and move it back when the renovation is complete. He says only minimum security inmates are eligible for the program.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie commissioned the renovation citing the building's state of poor repair.

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NORWALK, Conn. (AP) - Experts at a Connecticut aquarium are trying to figure out how crabs native to the Pacific Northwest ended up in the waters of Long Island Sound.

The Hour newspaper reports that oyster fishermen hauled up four unusual crabs off the coast of Norwalk last week, threw three back but brought one to the Maritime Aquarium in the city.

Aquarium experts identified the 2½ -pound crustacean as a male Dungeness crab.

Senior aquarist Sandi Schaefer-Padgett said the discovery is "not normal" and scientists are now trying to figure out how they ended up off Connecticut's coast. She says it's most likely that someone purchased them and then released them.

State marine officials are monitoring the situation and telling fishermen to contact authorities if they catch one.

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NEW YORK (AP) - A Long Island woman is suing a Manhattan restaurant after tearing a knee ligament, claiming she was too drunk to ride the eatery's mechanical bull ride.

Thirty-three-year-old West Babylon resident Jocelyn Burmeister says she was at Johnny Utah's for a party in March. The lawsuit says restaurant employees shouldn't have let her get on the ride because she was "visibly intoxicated."

Burmeister says the ride was turned on while she was still mounting it, and she was thrown off, tearing her ACL.

Johnny Utah's didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. On its website, the restaurant says patrons need to sign a waiver before riding the bull. Burmeister's attorney says she doesn't recall signing a waiver.

The lawsuit was filed June 16 in New York state Supreme Court.

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greek police say they have arrested an elderly man for allegedly setting up an improvised firing range on his balcony in a densely populated area and using guns he owned illegally for target practice.

A police statement Tuesday says one of the handgun shots the man allegedly fired at a wooden target fixed to his balcony railings hit a neighboring flat in Piraeus, the Greek capital's harbor. Nobody was hurt.

The statement said a search of the 72-year-old suspect's apartment produced five illegally owned handguns. Officers also found 21 shotguns - most of them licensed legally - a sword, a silencer, an axe, a Taser, knives and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

The man was arrested Saturday and charged with firearms law violations and attempted grievous bodily harm.

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HOUSTON (WCMH) - A tenant left a surprise behind for his landlord after abandoning his apartment.

Dozens of live scorpions and spiders were found when a maintenance crew went inside to clean the unit, KTRK reported.

Shoe boxes and plastic containers containing at least 72 critters were taken by Houston SPCA representatives.

The owner left before an eviction notice for failing to pay rent was served. He never returned for the boxes with the creepy crawly contents.

Officials said they were without food for several weeks, but they can survive for a month or more.

Experts from the Houston Zoo said there were more than 50 baby scorpions and three dead tarantulas included.

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PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Well, it was a nice try.

The Michigan appeals court says in a ruling released Wednesday that a man who was mistakenly told that he would receive a $2.7 million severance can't collect the windfall.

Francois El-Hayek was laid off from Trico Products in suburban Detroit in 2014. He was told that he would receive about $81,000 a week for 34 weeks.

But it was a mistake. Trico says the document should have said El-Hayek would get a total of roughly $81,000.

El-Hayek didn't receive any of the inflated payments and sued Trico, saying the company violated the deal by not paying the larger amount. He says $81,000 a week for 34 weeks seemed fair, based on his 28 years of service.

But the appeals court says a contract can be fixed when someone in El-Hayek's shoes knows about the mistake but remains silent.

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An Ohio trooper was forced to conduct an unusual traffic stop when he spotted a runaway horse pulling an Amish buggy without anyone at the reins.

The horse was reported on the loose in Wooster Sunday morning.

Sgt. C.O. Smith, one of the responding officers, caught up to the panting horse on foot on State Road 250, the Wooster Daily Record reported.

He was able to bring the horse to a stop after running alongside the buggy, jumping in and grabbing the reins.

"I'm just glad it turned out okay," Smith told the paper. "That could have been a bigger incident with a 2,000-pound animal running in the wrong lane."

The paper reported that the horse had galloped about 10 miles and collapsed from exhaustion after being corralled.

Smith told the paper the horse wasn't hurt. The horse was examined by a veterinarian and given some water.

Police tracked down the owner who retrieved the horse.

"Every new day brings with it new challenges," the Wooster Police Department said in a Facebook post about that incident.

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A Nebraska postal worker going through a stack of mail made an odd discovery--a letter that had been mailed before World War I.

Larry Schultz was sorting mail for his route in Lincoln June 14 when he found the letter with a two-cent stamp in an envelope that appeared to have been slit open with a letter opener. It had been mailed June 1, 1914, from Iowa.

"Probably somebody found this either in an attic, or maybe in some boxes, and didn't know what to do with it and just dropped it in a mailbox somewhere," Lincoln Post Office Manager Todd Case told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Former Lincoln Postmaster Doug Emery says letters can get lost in the mail or sit in a dead letter office.

"But I don't see how it sits anyplace for 100 years," he said. "I can't believe it would have been in our possession for 100 years."

The three-page letter has some historical significance.

The recipient was the first woman to be a member of the U.S. Electoral College, and to bring election votes to Washington, D.C., in 1921. Those votes included some cast by women for the first time.

Grace Wheeler flew the election results, at least part way, in an open-cockpit, two-seater airplane. The votes were cast in favor of Warren G. Harding.

Wheeler died in 1947 and lived in house in Lincoln that was demolished in 1965, according to the Journal Star.

The letter was from her daughter, Margaret Casady, of Des Moines. 

"We are all quite right again - Simon returned to work this morning," Casady said in the letter, according to the paper. "Yesterday we went to Ames and had dinner with Jule's aunt Norma Beach. I thought it a pleasant expedition."

The paper reported that the letter is being returned to Wheeler's great-granddaughters.

They are going to get it in the mail.

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