Etc...

Hey, we forgot the towels

You may have heard the expression after a burglary: They took everything but the kitchen sink. Well, that's almost exactly what happened in Hamilton, New Zealand, one night last week while the owners of a small home were away. Thieves broke in and helped themselves to TV sets, a VCR, the bed, the dining room furniture, the contents of the pantry, the pots and pans, even the refrigerator. Happily for the victims, witnesses saw the intruders making multiple trips in and out. With that help, police traced the loot to another nearby house, where it all was recovered – although some already was being used.

I am flattered, though

Philip Ruddock has a message for the parents of Philip Ruddock: Don't expect any favors. Huh? Ruddock No. 1 is the chief of immigration in Australia's government, while No. 2 is the newborn son of an Iraqi couple who chose that name apparently in hopes of preferential treatment for their application for resettlement. The family is in a detention camp awaiting a decision. But Australia has one of the world's toughest admission policies.

The Mowing Bandit?

It's hardly the fastest thing on the road, but police in Fairfield, Ill., say a red riding lawn mower was an effective getaway vehicle for a burglar.

Witnesses told police they saw the suspect driving the mower away from a home where an intruder made off with more than $1,000 in jewelry Monday.

"We believe he rode the mower to the crime scene as well," said Fairfield police Sgt. Steven Sons.

Fairfield, in southeastern Illinois, is about 30 miles west of the Indiana state line.

Won't you be my neighbor?

Look at the street signs and you might think people in Davie County, N.C., don't like visitors.

There's Staya Way and Getta Way, Keepa Way, and Outatha Way. But the people who live on the streets say they're friendly.

"When we named the road, we didn't even think it was odd," said Keretha Shore, who lives on Staya Way. "We just thought it was funny."

The Shores' former neighbor, David Plott, suggested the name when the county mandated several years ago that all roads have names so that emergency vehicles could find them. Other neighbors liked it, too.

Briggett Ferrell said she hoped the name might discourage people who sometimes park in her family's backyard and fish in the lake behind their house. But her son, Joey, said the signs don't discourage anyone.

"People always laugh," he said. "People ask if we're joking: 'You're lying to me, right?"'

All four roads are private, so property owners along the roads had naming rights. As long as the names didn't offend anyone and didn't duplicate any existing names, they were OK, said Tim Barba of the Davie County Planning Department.

Rick Franklin, who named Getta Way, said he doesn't want people to think he's antisocial. Just last weekend, he had 160 people over for chicken stew, he said.

"I ain't put up the gate yet," he said.

A real fish story

Jim Cone didn't need to pick up dinner last weekend. It came to him.

Cone said he was boating on the Intracoastal Waterway in Wilmington, N.C., last Saturday when he crossed paths with a large, leaping Spanish mackerel.

The fish went airborne and grazed the head of Cone's daughter. It smashed through the half-inch-thick plastic windshield before bouncing off Cone's chest and landing on his wife's leg.

"I was screaming because I didn't know what happened," said Patti Cone. "And there was a fish in my lap."

Spanish mackerel don't jump frequently, but they do jump, said Rich Carpenter, district manager for the Southern Region of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Division.

"He could have been chasing something," Carpenter said. "Or something could have been chasing him."

Apart from some small cuts on Cone's chest, the broken windshield and some moments of panic, the boaters were OK.

After catching their breath, the Cones took the fish home and cooked it for dinner. "It was good and fresh," Cone said. "I guess you could call it a free lunch, except for the windshield."

2002 vehicles whose owners report that they're satisfied

BMW's new MINI Cooper, one of the smallest cars on American roads, beat out four-time champion Volkswagen Beetle as most appealing compact in a 2002 study by J.D. Power & Associates, the marketing and consulting firm. Its Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) survey measures new-owner "enjoyment" of 17 types of vehicles. A partial list of top-rated autos in the APEAL survey:

Compact car: MINI Cooper
Entry midsize: Hyundai Sonata
Premium midsize: Toyota Avalon
Full-size car: Ford Crown Victoria
Premium luxury: Lexus LS 430
Sporty car: Acura RSX
Compact pickup: Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander
Compact van: Honda Odyssey
– Business Wire

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