Tuesday, August 7, 2007

20 Unusual Stolen Objects

1. MARLA MAPLES' SHOES

When the girlfriend of entrepreneur Donald Trump discovered that more than 40 pairs of her high-heelled shoes were missing, she installed a video camera in her bedroom closet to catch the culprit. On July 15, 1992, the camera reportedly recorded Maples's publicist, Chuck Jones, filching another pair. New York police raided Jones's office and recovered the shoes, as well as a copy of Spike, a pornographic magazine for shoe fetishists. Jones pleaded not guilty to the charges.

2. GEORGE WASHINGTON'S WALLET

One hundred and ninety-one years after his death in 1799, George Washington's battered wallet was stolen from an unlocked case in the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, New Jersey. The wallet was later returned to police. In a separate incident in 1986, a lock of Washington's hair was taken from a museum in France. Five years later it was recovered, along with a lock of hair belonging to the Marquis de Lafayette, by French police during a raid on a drug dealer's hideout.

3. BULL SEMEN

In October 1989, $10,000 worth of frozen bull semen and embryos was taken from the dairy building at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, California. The embryos were later found, but despite a $1,500 reward, the semen was never recovered.

4. CHURCH PULPIT

On August 2, 1992, congregation leaders of the first missionary Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, voted to oust their pastor, the Reverend Robert L. White. The Reverend White retaliated by loading most of the church's property into three cars, a pickup, and a 14-foot-long-U-haul truck. Included in his haul were furniture, an organ, curtains, speakers, amplifiers and even the pulpit. He left behind the church's piano because it was still being paid for.

5. HALF A HUMAN HEAD

Jason Paluck, a premedical student at Adelphi University, was arrested in May 1992 after his landlord discovered half of a human head in a plastic bag while evicting Paluck from his Mineola, New York, apartment. Paluck admitted that he had taken the head from one of his classes.

6. KATEY SAGAL'S PUSH-UP BRA

On the night of April 30, 1992, Jim B., a 24-year-old art student in Los Angeles, drove into Hollywood to observe the fires and looting that followed the acquittal of four police officers in the beating of Rodney King. Jim B. joined the crowd looting Frederick's of Hollywood, the famous purveyor of exotic lingerie. He headed straight for their lingerie museum, intent on grabbing Madonna's bustier. It had already been stolen, so Jim B. settled for Ava Gardner's bloomers and a push-up bra worn by Katey Sagal on the television comedy Married . . . With Children. A couple of days later, a repentant Jim B. handed over the stolen items to the Reverend Bob Frambini, the pastor at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, who returned them to Frederick's. Madonna's bustier is still on the missing list. However, she did donate a replacement in exchange for a donation to a charity that provides free mammograms for the poor.

7. TWENTY-FOOT INFLATABLE CHICKEN

To mark the March 1990 debut of a new franchise in Sherman Oaks, California, the El Pollo Loco fast-food chain installed a 20-foot inflatable rubber chicken in front of the restaurant. Two weeks later, it was stolen. 'Don't ask me what someone would do with it', said Joe Masiello, director of operations for Chicken Enterprises, Ltd. 'If you put it in your yard, someone would notice it'. The restaurant's owners offered a reward of 12 free chicken combos for its return, but the thieves didn't bite.

8. BUTTONS

Felicidad Noriega, the wife of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, was arrested in a Miami-area shopping mall in March 1992. She and a companion eventually pleaded guilty to stealing $305-worth of buttons, which they had removed from clothes in a department store.

9. FIFTEEN-TON BUILDING

In August 1990, businessman Andy Barrett of Pembroke, New Hampshire, reported the unexpected loss of an unassembled 15-ton prefabricated structure, complete with steel girders and beams 35 feet long and 3 feet thick.

10. MANHOLE COVERS

In July 1990, Los Angeles police broke the case of the Great Manhole Theft Caper when they arrested two culprits who later confessed to stealing 300 manhole covers weighing as much as 300 lbs each. The Manhole Men were selling the covers for six dollars each to scrap-material dealers. They could have made 30 times as much money by recycling the same weight in aluminium soft-drinks cans. Two years later, manhole mania hit Lillehammer, Norway, site of the 1994 Winter Olympics, after local officials began stamping the covers with the Olympic logo. Three of the 140-lb covers were stolen, but one was returned after the thief 'sobered up'.

11. SACRED CHIN

Saint Anthony's jawbone and several teeth were taken from a basilica in Padua, Italy, in October 1991, but were later found near Rome's international airport at Fiumicino.

12. BIRDS' NESTS

Burglars in Hong Kong stole $250,000 worth of birds' nests from a restaurant during the night of May 1, 1992. The nests are a main ingredient in a popular Chinese soup.

13. GODZILLA

In March 1992, a 132-lb rubber model of Godzilla was stolen from a Tokyo movie studio. Ten days later it was found in a bamboo thicket outside the city.

14. VINTAGE AEROPLANE

Israeli Air Force Reserve Major Ishmael Yitzhaki was convicted in February 1992 of stealing a World War II Mustang fighter plane and flying it to Sweden, where he sold it for $331,000. He had managed to remove the plane from the Air Force museum by saying it needed painting.

15. GENE KELLY'S LAMPPOST

Bryan Goetzinger was part of the labour crew that cleared out the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film company vaults when MGM ceded its Culver City, California, lot to Lorimar Telepictures, in 1986. Among the items scheduled to be dumped was the lamppost that Gene Kelly swung on in the Hollywood musical classic Singin' in the Rain. Goetzinger took the lamppost home and installed it in the front yard of his Hermosa Beach home. Four years later it was stolen. It was never recovered.

16. MARY'S LITTLE LAMB

A life-size statue of Mary's famous little lamb was erected in Sterling, Massachusetts, the hometown of Mary Sawyer, who was the inspiration for the nursery rhyme written in 1830 by Sarah J. Hale. During the night of June 30, 1990, the unfortunate lamb was stolen from the town commons. Fortunately, it was later returned.

17. SOFA BALLOON

When Nadar Almasi, the manager of Krause's Sofa Factory in Fremont, California, reported the theft of a sofa from his store, Fremont police laughed. The sky blue sofa, known as Maxine, was actually a 31-foot, 500-lb forced air balloon that had adorned the store's rooftop until the Independence Day weekend of 1989. Maxine was recovered a few weeks later.

18. FAKE BISON TESTICLES

In celebration of the 2001 World Championships in Athletics, the host city of Edmonton, Canada, erected statues of bison, painted in colours representing the competing nations. Twenty of the statues were vandalised, with thieves removing the testicles from the bison. Although two vandals were caught red-handed in August, police considered the remaining cases unsolved. Ric Dolphin, chairman of the project that erected the statues, suggested that if the vandals were caught, 'Let the punishment fit the crime.'

19. CABIN

Kay Kugler and her husband B.J. Miller bought 40 acres in California's El Dorado County and erected a 10-by-20-foot prefabricated cabin on the property, which they used as a vacation home. In July 2003, they arrived at their property to discover that the cabin was gone. In their absence, someone had stolen the cabin, a shed, a generator, an antique bed, a well pump and a 2,600-gallon water tank.

20. CONDOM MACHINE

Keith Bradford, 34, drank three beers at the Irish Tavern in Waterford, Michigan, in November, 1994, headed into the men's room and ripped a condom machine from the wall. Numerous witnesses saw him walking away with the machine, so the police followed him home and recovered the machine, 48 condoms and 127 quarters.

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