News In Brief

THAT'LL TEACH THEM File this one under signs of the times: Southern Methodist University in Dallas is the target of a lawsuit filed by 12 disgruntled ex-students. The litigants seek to recover their tuition for a five-month course - which would certify them to work with specific computer software programs - plus lost pay for those who quit jobs to take it. But each of the students failed and then rejected an offer by SMU to repeat the course. It was, maintains their lawyer, too tough. Asked for comment, a university spokes-man said: "That's how it is these days: You fail the class, you sue the school."

HEY, WHAT ABOUT US?

Also disgruntled were the commuters left on platforms across southeastern England as a Ramsgate-to-London train swept by without stopping for them. It seems the train was trying to make up minutes - on a day the carrier had pledged full on-time service.

Miami's reported auto-theft rate led the nation in 1997

It is no coincidence that half of the US cities with the most vehicle thefts are ports or communities with easy access to borders, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks thefts for insurance companies. In releasing the results of its latest national survey, the bureau noted that vehicle theft remains the nation's No. 1 property crime, although the number of vehicles stolen in 1997 - 1.3 million - was down 3 percent from the year before. The metropolitan areas found to have the highest 1997 vehicle-theft indexes (obtained by dividing the number of registered vehicles by the number reported stolen):

1. Miami 37.9

2. Jersey City, N.J. 41.0

3. Fresno, Calif. 49.7

4. Memphis, Tenn. 50.4

5. New York. 52.3

6. Tucson, Ariz. 52.6

7. Phoenix/Mesa 53.1

8. Albuquerque, N.M. 55.6

9. Sacramento, Calif. 57.9

10. New Orleans 58.7

- Associated Press

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