New research out this week says that women's handbags are getting bigger, and so are providing bigger rewards for criminals. Most worryingly, according to ID fraud experts CPP, these larger bags are encouraging women to carry around personal documents such as their passport, bank statements or payslips that are indispensable to an identity thief, leading to an increase in cases of bag theft. And it's not just women at risk, the same research also reveals that 1-in-10 men now tote a "man-bag", most with personal documents inside (Telegraph).
Unfortunately, the advice to keep an eye on your handbag came too late for one member of the UK's "Serious Organised Crime Agency" (a sort of British FBI). On arriving at the main airport in Bogota, Colombia, to gather information on the drug cartels there, the unnamed agent managed to lose her handbag, and with it the memory-stick she was carrying containing the names and addresses of dozens of SOCA's informants and operatives. According to sources the agent is "a lovely girl but a bit daft and scatterbrained", just the sort of person to be transporting information vital to your country's war on drugs then (The Australian).
Of course, it's not always what's taken out of your handbag that can get you into trouble. A Melbourne woman faces five years in a Thailand jail for stealing a beermat, even though two people have come forward and testified that she is innocent and they hid the mat in her handbag. The woman's lawyer has appealed to the Prime Minister of Thailand to intervene in the case (ABC News).
Somehow I don't think the same excuse would work for Teresa Tambunting though. Tambunting, who worked for Jacmel Jewelry in New York, is alleged to have fashioned a hidden pocket in the lining of her handbag and smuggled out over $12 million in gold over the course of 5 years. Surprisingly, money doesn't seem to have been the motive, and soon after the company began an investigation into the higher than expected "manufacturing losses", Tambunting returned a suitcase containing 66lbs of gold pellets. Police later recovered another 447lbs from her Scarsdale home (The Times).
But even loaded with gold, Mrs Tambunting's handbags would fare a poor second in value to those of a certain Mrs Beckham. Victoria "Posh" Beckham, perhaps in a bid to be to handbags what Imelda Marcos was to shoes, has amassed an incredible collection of over 100 designer handbags. Specifically, they are all by one designer, Hermès, and all of one design, his extremely desirable (apparently) "Birkin" model, named for actress Jane Birkin, which start from around $7000 a piece. Beckham's entire collection, which she refers to as "an investment", is worth an estimated $2.3 million (Female First).
The justice system in Lancashire UK have struck a blow for the consumer by jailing a prolific eBay scammer and fining him over £100,000, but just one thousand of this will be used to pay back his victims. Jonathan Hartley was jailed for 18 months after a Police investigation looked into complaints going back over six years. In court Hartley pleaded guilty to multiple counts of fraud (and one of money laundering), which are believed to have netted him over £140,000.
Taking into account the money he has already spent, Lancashire Crown Court have ordered he raise the £102,000 fine by August or face another 12 months on his sentence and the £102k fine (plus interest). Because only 34 victims have been positively identified, less than a thousand of this 'restitution' will be paid out in compensation. The rest will be split equally between the prosecutors (government), the courts and the police (Pendle Today).
Just when you thought it was safe to visit your trash can... The Coconut Crab is so named because it can crack open coconuts in its giant claws. Also known as the Robber Crab for its scavenging nature, it has adapted so well to living on land that it actually drowns in water. This site has some great information and images, and of course Wikipedia does too.
Your Daily Loser - Michael Tiernan said "If I get fired or lose my job, nobody is coming out of this building alive." Why was he so upset? He was suspended from his janitorial job in a Washington County school for chasing another employee around with a snake. The Story.
Jury Duty - Yet another genius criminal who gives himself away by leaving his name at the scene. Only this time, Dustin Craig Borders signed a bible, because the crime scene was the Kingsley United Methodist Church in Sullivan, Indiana. The Story and Mugshot.
Imagine the Sahara desert. A vast, arid sandbox with limited plant life. And the Tenere is a region of the southern Sahara with an extremely hot and dry climate and even more limited plant life. But up until 1973, there was a lonely acacia tree known as the Tree of Ténéré (L’Arbre du Ténéré). Being so isolated, the tree became a landmark on caravan routes and earned a place on most maps of the area. It stood for decades as a beacon for weary travelers, until a drunk driver knocked it down. Yup, the only tree in the entire region and the drunk managed to hit it. In remembrance to what was once considered to be the most isolated tree on Earth, a metal pole was put in its place. You'll need a translator for The Story but the pictures are fairly self-explanatory.
Your Daily Loser - In case you were wondering, it's not really water inside Old Faithful. The Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park has a webcam. But viewers got a different kind of eyeful a few days ago when two summer employees were caught urinating into the geyser. The Story.
Jury Duty - Carl Cornelle Jr. has been in and out of court for the last ten years, since he killed Arlene Miske in a head-on car accident. Carl was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and was originally convicted for negligent homicide. But he's still not in prison, is still addicted to drugs and even applied for a driver's license recently even though it was revoked for life after the accident. The Story.
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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