<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Weird News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/weird http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:22:38 -0400 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:22:38 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[WATCH: Golfer Flees Hornet Attack on Course]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:45:43 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Larrazabal.jpg

A Spanish golfer jumped into a nearby lake to escape a swarm of hornets then continued on despite his stinging injuries.

Pablo Larrazabal was in the fifth hole's fairway during the Maybank Malaysian Open when he swatted away a stray hornet, which then prompted a swarm to attack him. The golfer attempted to fight them off, but had to run to the lake to escape the angry wasps.

“They were huge and like 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time,” Larrazabal said in a statement to ESPN. “I didn’t know what to do. My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake.”

The scene could have been reminiscent of Chris Farley's character fleeing a bee attack in the 1995 film "Tommy Boy."

Larrazabal suffered more than 20 stings and had to receive medical attention. He described the encounter as the “scariest moment" of his career.

However, he returned to play his last five holes in a borrowed shirt, reversing his luck by finishing the 14th hole – the same one where he was attacked – with a birdie putt and finishing overall with two under.

He later tweeted out thanks to supporters and joked that golf is a dangerous sport.

Photo Credit: Ian Walton/Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service Threatened to Shoot Mr. Met: Book]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:11:15 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/mr-met-cohen.jpg

A Secret Service agent once threatened to shoot Mr. Met if he approached the president during a baseball game at Shea Stadium, according to a man who once worked as the baseball-headed mascot.

AJ Mass, who was the Mets’ mascot from 1994 to 1997, said a member of former President Bill Clinton’s security detail told him they’d “go for the kill shot” if he tried to pal around with the then-commander-in-chief at a Mets-Dodgers game on April 15, 1997. The account comes from an excerpt of Mass’ new book, “Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots,” published on Sports Illustrated’s website this week.

Mass wrote that he had planned to make his way to see Clinton, who was at the game commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major-league appearance, calling the photo-op "the holy grail for all mascots."

Before he could make it to the president’s box, Mass wrote, he was stopped by an agent in a dark suit and a businesslike demeanor.

“We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen,” the agent told Mass. “Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. Nobody will bother you. But approach the president, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?”

Then the agent, who Mass wrote was staring into the mouth of Mr. Met’s head to make eye contact with the man inside, repeated himself.

“Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot,” the agent said to Mass. “ARE-WE-CLEAR?”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Bears Eat From Birdfeeder in NJ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:15:32 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/206*120/bears-birdfeeder.JPG

Three black bears surprised a New Jersey neighborhood when they boldly ran through several backyards, climbing fences and snuffling around a birdfeeder, which was caught on video by a local landscaper.

The bears were spotted near Eyland Avenue in Succasunna last week.

Mike Sippel said he noticed the bears darting through yards and lumbering over fences, and then captured them on video gathering around a birdfeeder.

Authorities believe the bears are looking for something to eat after a winter of hibernation.

"They're hungry, looking for an easy food source and a birdfeeder is the place to go," said Lt. Gerard Hardiman, of Roxbury Police.

Sippel says the bears then left the birdfeeder, crossed the street and scared a woman who was outside with her dog.

"The lady over there was screaming and her dog was barking," Sippel said.

Hardiman says the best thing to do if you see a bear is to make loud noises and try to scare them off.

During their Succasunna adventure, the bears didn't attack anyone, and left without incident.

<![CDATA[Baby Squirrel on the Mend in DC]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:22:22 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/squirrel8.jpg

The rehab center that patched up an injured snowy owl in the nation's capital has another cute creature under its care.

D.C. City Wildlife said a baby squirrel was found on the sidewalk after falling 75 feet from her nest.

Wildlife officials said the squirrel — which they believe is a female — suffered a broken ankle. Her leg is now wrapped up in a little red cast.

The squirrel "should heal very quickly," officials said.

Earlier this year, City Wildlife treated a rare snowy owl after it was apparently hit by a bus in D.C. 

The injured owl was taken to the National Zoo before being transferred to the wildlife rehabilitation center. It's now at The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, which has expertise in replacing damaged feathers.

<![CDATA[Condom Shortage in Cuba]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:20:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WEB_CONDOMS_BY_MAIL.png

The latest food and product shortage to rock Cubans is being felt in the bedroom.

Complaints that condoms are scarce are emerging from the island, part of a dry spell that has lasted several weeks, The Miami Herald reported. 

One Havana author wrote on a Spanish-language website based in Miami that some shops continue to sell condoms, but at prices tailored to tourists that are unaffordable for most Cubans, according to The Herald. The shortage has lasted about two weeks, she wrote.

A report in a Communist Party newspaper pinpointed the prophylactic pinch to labeling and packaging issues with a batch of condoms purchased wholesale from China, The Herald reported.

Residents have also reported recent shortfalls of staples like toothpaste, toilet paper, soap and beer, the paper reported. 


<![CDATA["Give Me All the Bills:" Masked Man Holds Up Wawa]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:36:47 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/212*120/Northeast+Philly+Wawa+Heist.JPG

Another Northeast Philadelphia Wawa was recently held up overnight, this time by a masked man who let the clerk know exactly what he wanted despite being in a busy store.

"Give me all the bills in the register.”

That’s what Philadelphia Police say the man with his face covered told employees Tuesday night around 11:15 at the convenience store location at 7001 Roosevelt Boulevard in the Oxford Circle section of the city.

Surveillance video shows the disguised man approach the counter. As he gets near you see him look up at a customer in the store who was holding up his young daughter as he checked out.

After the unassuming man and his child leave, the man with a scarf over his face goes to the counter with some small bills then holds his hand in the pocket of his hoodie.

Police said the man, who was appeared to be in his 40s, standing around 5-foot-6-inches tall and weighing about 170 to 200 pounds, told the clerk he was armed.

The clerk hands over an undetermined amount of money. The masked man then leaves the store -- walking out at the same time as another customer.

No one was hurt.

This Wawa location is the same one where a man with his face partially covered by a winter hat and dark turtle neck struck last month.

Police said that man grabbed a coffee and approached the counter seemingly to pay. After the clerk told the man the cost of the cup of joe, the suspect sated “damn that’s a lot” then placed his hand in his jacket, according to police Northeast Detectives.

The clerk told police that the man said “give me all the small bills!”

The clerk complied, handed over a handful of cash and the offender fled from the store headed towards Tyson Avenue, according to investigators.

Security was increased at another Oxford Circle Wawa store less than a mile away after a recent string of robberies at the Wawa at Bustleton Pike and Levick Street

The Bustleton Pike store was held up Jan. 15 by a man carrying a semi-automatic handgun. A $25,000 reward was offered in that case and others because since October that same store has been hit four other times by masked robbers.

An armed man, wearing a “Scream” mask like the one worn in the horror-movie franchise, entered the store on Nov. 26 and demanded money, according to Philadelphia Police. An employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash from the register and the masked man fled from the store.

Police officers at that time told NBC10 that they believe this same suspect struck the store before -- captured on surveillance video.

The earlier thefts also featured masked robbers coming in between 3 to 4 a.m. and demanding money. In an Oct. 1 incident, two masked men burst into the store and made off with cash. Then, on Nov. 4 a masked man made off with cash from the register.

Finally, on Nov. 21, a man in a "Scream" masked burst in and demanded money.

A nearby Wawa store on Krewstown Road was also held up in late December.

It's unclear if all the thefts are connected.

Wawa says it has taken measure to try and prevent thefts at its stores: "The safety and security of our associates and customers is of utmost importance to us. Our priority is always to ensure the safety and security of our associates and our customers at this store, and we have been pursuing all avenues..."

Anyone with information should contact police and/or call Northeast Detectives at 215-686-3153/54.

Photo Credit: Surveillance Image care of Philadelphia Police]]>
<![CDATA[Caught on Cam: Red Bull Bandits Rob Wawas]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:19:20 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Toms+River+Wawa+Heist+Red+Bull.jpg

Police in South Jersey say a couple spent their weekend stealing hundreds of dollars’ worth of Red Bull.

Toms River Police say surveillance video in multiple Wawa stores along the Route 37 corridor captured the alleged energy drink thieves in action last weekend.

According to police the heists occurred between 4 and 5 p.m. each day. The woman wearing a red shirt would enter the store first, likely serving a lookout, according to investigators.

She would remain in the front of the store as the man, wearing a suit and wheeling a black suitcase, would enter the store and head for the refrigerated beverage storage room.

The man is then seen two to three minutes later leaving the store – his wheelie bag visibly weighed down. The duo then got into a dark, older model Dodge Durango and drove away.

Police said the stores later discovered that they were short some Red Bull. In total about $800 of the energy drink went missing. In total there are four Wawas along Route 37 in the area.

Police described the woman as having shoulder-length brown hair and a tattoo above her left breast. The man is described as having slicked-back, receding brown hair pulled into a pony tail with a chinstrap-style beard.

Anyone who recognizes these people is asked to contact Det. Bob O'Neill at
732-349-0150, ext. 1255.

Photo Credit: Surveillane Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dangling Sign Causing Risk for Drivers]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:40:27 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Crooked+Sign+Boulevard.JPG A traffic sign at Roosevelt Boulevard and Haldeman Avenue in Northeast Philly dangles over the busy intersection.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Jesus Drawing a Record in Chalk?]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:22:04 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/chalk-jesus-03.jpg

Fellowship Church in Grapevine is attempting to set the world record for the largest chalk drawing.

The church, led by Pastor Ed Young, is coloring a drawing of Jesus Christ that spans nearly 17,000 square feet, according to a statement on their website.

It took 6,700 individual pieces of chalk to create the portrait, and 125 bags of charcoal, according to a church representative.

The purpose of "Chalk Jesus" is to get people interested in and talking about the church in the days leading up to Easter.

"We believe the church should be the most creative entity on the face of the planet. Not boring, not humdrum," said Derric Bonnot with Fellowship Church. "But it should be out there thinking up new ways to tell the story of who Jesus is and who God is. And so hopefully this just catches people's attention to want to see more and want to know more."

Bonnot told NBC DFW hundreds of volunteers helped to make the portrait possible. Most were members of the mega church, which has six locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But many of the volunteers were people who learned about the effort from social media, the radio or from the television, Bonnot said.

"Honestly, I think it speaks to people," said church member Roger Moreno about the portrait. Moreno brought his son, Luciano, 2, to help. "To show him that it's a good thing to give back and not just be so selfish."

"That actually shows that we actually still care and [we are] trying to make a difference in somebody's life," Moreno added.

The portrait will stay in place through Sunday's Easter services, at which point congregation members will then wash it away.

Despite their 12-plus hour drawing effort, if rain showers come before Sunday, Bonnot said the church understands that may make the chalk Jesus "an abstract art piece."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Yawning Suspect to Judge: "I Don't Care, Man"]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:36:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/041614+joseph+butler+judge+john+hurley.jpg

A yawning suspect earned a stern rebuke and a trip to jail after he told a South Florida judge, "I don't care, man."

Joseph Butler was facing grand theft and resisting arrest charges when he appeared before Broward Circuit Judge John Hurley Tuesday in the incident captured on court video.

Butler, arms crossed, stood as the prosecutor read from his lengthy criminal past then yawned loudly, drawing the ire of Hurley.

"Oh don't worry, sir. Sir, I heard you yawn, but don't worry. You won't yawn in just a minute. Trust me on that one," Hurley said.

"I don't care, man. I really don't care," Butler said.

"I know this is boring to you and you'd rather be out doing something else, but I can guarantee you won't be stealing anymore after this conversation," Hurley replied.

Hurley then set Butler's bond at $104,000, but ordered him held without bond on three previous grand theft arrests.

"So he's gonna be staying in jail for awhile," Hurley said after dismissing Butler. "Good, maybe he can yawn all he wants while he's over there."

<![CDATA[Drive Like Biden? Guy Says He's Selling VP's Caddy]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:30:46 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Biden+Cadillac+Sale+combined.jpg

If you want to ride like a Vice President, a Delaware man says he’s got just the car for you.

Jeff Finkle is selling a 2005 Cadillac STS on Craigslist, which he said was leased by Vice President Joe Biden from 2005 to 2008. The 23-year-old tells NBC10.com he purchased the luxury car in 2008, his senior year of high school, and realized it belonged to Biden when he was setting up the Bluetooth phone connection.

“When I was going through the Bluetooth and recognized the names. It had Jill’s number, his two sons Beau and Hunter. It had Philadelphia numbers, Wilmington numbers,” he said on Wednesday.

Finkle said he then checked the warranty information and called the dealership where the car was originally leased – both of which confirmed that it was Biden’s car. Finkle said he never called any of the numbers stored in the car, worried about what might happen.

“At that point, I was scared to touch any of them because if a call went through, I thought I would get in trouble because he was the Vice President,” he said.

A few months after his inquiries about the vehicle’s past, Finkle said the numbers disappeared from the car’s touchscreen computer.

A report on the car’s history does not show the name of the owners, but does list that it was previously registered as a commercial vehicle.

A spokeswoman for the vice president said they had “no comment” on the car. Calls to the dealerships where the cars were sold were not returned.

Finkle, who recently moved to South Carolina, says he figured highlighting the alleged Biden connection to the car would help the sale. He's offering the car for $15,000.

As for why he’s selling, he says it’s politics.

“Since now I’m in The South, driving around in Joe Biden’s car wouldn’t be the best thing with all the Republicans.”

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

<![CDATA[Dog Chosen for Jury Duty?]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:45:59 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/IV+Griner+Dog+Jury+Duty.jpg

"It’s kinda strange."

That was New Jersey resident Barrett Griner's first thought when he checked his mail last week and found that one of the mail items from his local county clerk's office was not for him. It was for his 5-year-old German Shepherd dog, IV.

"I got the mail and I look at it, and I’m like IV Griner, this is my dog’s name," he said.

"I’m wondering like, What is this? Something from the county office about her vaccinations or something? Like, why is my dog getting mail?"

The notice, addressed from the Cumberland County Clerk of Courts, was a juror summons for someone with the first name IV and the last name Griner -- the exact name Barrett Griner IV says he legally gave to his dog.

"She’s a female, so I named her 'IV' without the 'Y' as sort of a play on words. Somebody had to physically type in that name and they didn’t pay any bit of attention to it," he said.

As it turns out, the mix-up was actually due to a fairly common computer error.

Cumberland County Judiciary Coordinator Dennis Moffa said the county's jury duty notices are computer-generated in District Court offices in Trenton, N.J., and frequently include name errors.

"This happens many times. As an example, if you had John Henry IV, sometimes the notice might just say Henry IV," Moffa said. "I think that the computer probably randomly picks some things that are probably not as on point as they should be."

Barrett Griner IV said he's still unsure whether the summons were meant for him or not. He says he's received jury duty notices from the county before, but they've always included his full name.

Moffa said the discrepancy can easily be resolved with a call to the county clerk's office.

"They call here and they provide us with information from the summons and additional identifying information, and we can determine who the summons is actually for," he said.

For Barrett Griner IV, the mix-up was more humorous than anything else.

"She [the dog] might be good for a cat burglar case or something like that," he added. "The whole thing was just really, really funny."

Photo Credit: Barrett Griner, IV]]>
<![CDATA[Family Adopts Dog That Raced Metro-North Train]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 06:40:31 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/metro-north-dog-adopted.JPG
A daring dog that raced alongside a Metro-North train from the South Bronx to Manhattan last week as passengers and crew cringed in fear she would get hurt has been adopted, officials said Monday.

The dog, named Tie by MTA workers for all the railroad ties she ran across, went home to her new family on Sunday, according to Animal Care & Control.

The MTA says the brown and black pup started running next to the train last Tuesday as it moved out of Mott Haven Junction en route to Grand Central shortly before 11 a.m. 

Engineer Joseph Delia, a dog lover, told the New York Post he slowed the train down to a crawl to avoid hitting the dog, who at one point got ahead of the lead car and twice fell between the track ties. 

"She's not a very big dog. I was worried she wouldn't make it and get electrocuted," Delia told the Post. 

The pup made it safely to the 125th Street station in Harlem, where two MTA police officers and a station worker made their way toward the tracks to corral her. Instead, she ran toward them. 

Passengers cheered as emergency service officers evaluated the dog and put her into a patrol car, the Post said.

Tie had a limp and was nursing her right front paw, but was wagging her tail and seemed in good spirits, said Luis Alvarez, one of the MTA police officers who helped rescue her. 
Animal Care & Control said it received more than 100 queries, and about 36 applications, from people wanting to adopt her.
<![CDATA[Dog Lost in 2007 Wildfires Reunited with Owners]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:32:12 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Wildfire-Dog-Reunion.jpg

They say every dog has its day. That’s especially true for a dog named “Buddy” who was recently reunited with his owners after going missing seven years ago when devastating wildfires ripped through San Diego County.

During the 2007 wildfires, John Hartman and his family were left without a home. The fires also separated the family from Buddy.

The black lab had been implanted with a $10 microchip about two years before the fires. Earlier this month, that teeny, tiny microchip helped Buddy find his way back into the arms of his owners in an emotional reunion in San Diego.

According to the San Diego County Department of Animal Services, someone reported finding Buddy loose in Imperial Beach last month. The dog was dropped off at the county’s Gaines Street Animal Shelter on Mar. 28, where staffers scanned the pooch for a microchip.

The microchip matched the long lost dog to Hartman.

Hartman and his wife are now living in Oklahoma. However, on a recent trip to San Diego to visit their son, they got a surprise call from the Department of Animal Services. On the other end, an official told Hartman something he never expected to hear: Buddy was back.

Last week, Hartman and his wife finally got their dream reunion when they picked up 10-year-old buddy from the animal shelter. They packed up their pooch and happily took Buddy with them back to Oklahoma.

Dan DeSousa, deputy director of Animal Services in San Diego, credits the microchip to the Hartman’s happy ending. He said the length of the dog’s time apart from his family makes this case unforgettable.

“We’ve reunited animals from across the country and even the world with their owners, but seven years is one of the longest time periods we were able to reunite a pet and its owner,” said DeSousa. “The story could have had a tragic ending when the dog was lost during the wildfires, but the happy ending of this dog being reunited with its owner after moving from out of state can’t be beat.”

DeSousa said Buddy’s tale should serve as a reminder to dog owners on the importance of microchipping pets.

“While a dog license is required by law, a collar or tag can easily be lost and that is why we encourage people to microchip,” he added.

To find out more about microchipping pets in San Diego, click here.

Photo Credit: San Diego County Department of Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[Man's Robbery Attempt Gets Laughs]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:13:54 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/189*120/0410-stone1.jpg

A Baltimore man was arrested Wednesday after trying to rob an Annapolis hair salon and being laughed out of the place by a receptionist, Anne Arundel County Police said.

Ryan Michael Trembly, 29, of Curtis Bay, was arrested and charged with one count of attempted robbery and one count of theft less than $1,000. 

Trembly allegedly entered the Bubbles Hair Salon on April 9 around 5 p.m. and announced his intentions to rob it. He had his arm under his shirt implying he was carrying a weapon, though he never showed or said he had one, authorities explained. 

"He was like, 'Give me all your money,' and I said, 'Not today!' Who tries to rob a salon? The bank's right [outside]!," the receptionist said.

Police say the receptionist at the salon laughed at Trembly, unable to believe his demands were serious. The suspect also tried to make small talk with her before eventually leaving the building. 

A little while later, the receptionist found a police officer and told him about the incident, saying that she saw the suspect go into another business before being picked up in a white Nissan. 

Police eventually identified Trembly and found him at his mother's house in Curtis Bay, where they promptly arrested him. 

<![CDATA[Teen May Be Deported Over Brownies]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:39:42 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/marijuana+generic.jpg

A Yuba City teen could be deported to Mexico following her conviction on felony marijuana distribution charges. She sold pot brownies to pay for a prom dress, according to reports.

Saira Munoz, now 19, was a senior at River Valley High School when, short of cash to pay for a dress, she "hired a friend to sell her marijuana-laced brownies," according to the Los Angeles Times.

She was arrested after a student became "sick off of one of the brownies."

Munoz served nine days in jail for the felony conviction and was sentenced to four years' probation, the newspaper reported.

Munoz could now face deportation in violation of a temporary visa granted her in 2000.

<![CDATA[Unbelievable Animal Stories: Bullet-Riddled Orangutan Rescued]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:40:29 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/485247939.jpg Check out some of the craziest animals and the stories behind them.

Photo Credit: SUTANTA ADITYA/AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Topless Woman Vandalizes McDonald's]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:00:49 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/sandra+suarez+web.jpg

A viral YouTube video shows a topless Florida woman vandalizing a McDonald’s restaurant while in a thong.

Sandra Suarez, 41, was arrested for criminal mischief and resisting an officer with violence after she was seen on surveillance cameras destroying items inside a McDonald’s located in Pinellas Park, Florida, reported NBC affiliate WFLA.

Suarez is seen wearing only a thong as she begins to throw computers off the McDonald’s counter and other items from behind the counter. The woman is also seen repeatedly opening and closing a refrigerator door. At one point, Suarez pauses mid-attack to treat herself to some soft-serve ice cream by placing her head directly under the ice cream machine's nozzle.

The video ends with Suarez walking off camera, towards the back of the restaurant.

The incident occurred at 10:50 p.m. on March 24, according to WFLA.

A McDonald's spokesperson told WFLA that the company is still gathering details about the incident. The restaurant's manager told the station he was fired after the video was made public. He said didn't know the employee was going to post the video on the internet.

"In a way it was my mistake the way it got out, but I don't think I should've lost my job because I worked too hard at that store, I've never had any disciplinary action," Stevens told WFLA.

Meanwhile, WFLA spoke with Suarez who said she suffers from bipolar disorder, is on medication, and does not remember most of the incident. 

Suarez was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and was later released on $7,000 bond, online jail records show. It is unknown at this time if Suarez has an attorney.


<![CDATA[Annual Blessing of the Baseballs]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:03:40 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000006697685_1200x675_220214851516.jpg Fans gathered for the 8th annual Blessing of the Balls at Citizens Bank Park . Three local religious leaders gathered to bless the baseballs that the Phillies will use in their Home Opener.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Rat Terrorizes NY Commuters]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:55:28 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/rat+terrorizes+subway+copy.jpg
A man commuting to Brooklyn shot video of a rat running around inside his downtown A train Monday morning.

Jinais Ponnampadikkal Kader says the rat boarded the train at the Fulton Street station.

In his YouTube post, Kader writes, "Someone getting off the train was screaming 'RAT on the train!' but by the time everyone realized what was happening, the doors closed and the train entered the tunnel."

Kader's video shows people standing on the orange subway seats as the rat scurries underneath them. Some brave straphangers stay seated but lift their legs as the rodent runs by.

It wasn't clear where -- or if -- the rat got off the subway.

The MTA has implemented several programs to control the rat population in the subway system, including a federally funded sterilization project and heightened efforts to seal the doors of the 347 trash rooms in the five boroughs.

Less than $500,000 was spent on the latter effort in 2013; this year the agency has budgeted $1.1 million, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

Ortiz says, "By increasing the budget, we're trying to expedite" rat mitigation.

The MTA has also allotted more funds this year for baiting and rat poison at all 277 underground stations.

-Andrew Siff contributed to this report

Photo Credit: Jinais Ponnampadikkal Kader ]]>
<![CDATA[Boat with Ton of Pot Washes Ashore]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:15:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/202*120/boat-panga-drug-marijuana-malibu-april7.jpg

A boat loaded with bundles of marijuana -- possibly more than one ton -- washed ashore Monday morning on the Southern California coast.

The 30-foot boat, an open fishing boat with outboard power, was discovered near the Ventura and Los Angeles county line near Leo Carrillo State Park, about 10 miles west of Malibu. Authorities could not confirm the weight of the cargo, but estimated it weighed about one ton after viewing the boat.

The initial report regarding the beached boat was received from State Park Rangers, who noted the strong smell of marijuana and gasoline. The Rangers had already detained one subject when Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies arrived, but said two other individuals ran from the boat.

"When he was detained, he was trying to blend in as a regular beach-goer," Lt. James Royal said.

That man, along with two others who were found hiding in the bushes, were taken into custody. A helicopter crew did not locate anyone in the water, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The three men face criminal trafficking charges and possible deportation.

The seized marijuana will be transported to a Homeland Security Investigations office to be weighed and processed as evidence. Based on research, the street value of a ton of marijuana can range from $1 million to $2 million depedning on the potency and quality of the weed, according to an NBC4 report.

The panga boat was towed from the beach.

Royal said these panga boat smuggling operations often begin south of the Mexican border, but range up and down the California coast.

The boat is the latest drug-smuggling vessel found along the shoreline northwest of Los Angeles. In September, more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana were seized and 18 people were arrested after members of the California National Guard spotted a panga boat near Arroyo Quernada Beach in Santa Barbara County. Authorities later stopped a truck that was involved in the smuggling scheme.

An estimated $4 million worth of marijuana wrapped in bundles washed ashore near Santa Barbara in March 2013. A 30-foot panga boat with about 20 fuel containers was found nearby.

In December 2012, a U.S. Coast Guardsman was killed when he was thrown from a boat that was rammed by a panga boat under investigation for smuggling off the Southern California coast. Drugs onboard the panga were seized and two smuggling suspects were taken into custody.

The U.S. Coast Guard seized 81,000 pounds of marijuana last year, down from 124,500 in 2012.

<![CDATA[Student's April Fool's Joke on Teacher Goes Viral]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 11:05:45 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/mich+class+prank.jpg

Extra credit belongs to this student who stayed in character throughout a caught-on-camera April Fool's prank that has since gone viral.

The student pranked her macroeconomics teacher, Professor Stephen Barrows, last week at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich. At the center of the joke was the teacher's in-class policy: If a student's phone rings, the call must be answered on speakerphone.

Per the policy (and the joke), when the female student's phone rang, she answered. Here's what the class heard:

"Hi, this is Kevin from the Pregnancy Resource Center. Per your request, I am calling to inform you that the test results have come back positive. Congratulations."

A clip of the prank shows the teacher clearly looking concerned at this point. He can be heard telling the student she can turn off the phone.

"There is no need to worry," the caller says. "I know you told us the father is no longer in the picture, but we will be in contact with you throughout this whole process, so don't worry about anything. We provide counseling and other maternity services at no charge."

As the teacher moves to publicly apologize to the student, she plays it cool.

"That's okay," she says. "I've been expecting this, and I already know what I'm going to name the baby. Her first name will be April, and her middle name will be Fools."

The class erupts into laughter, right along with the professor. The prank had since garnered more than 4 million YouTube views by Monday afternoon.

<![CDATA[Frozen Meat in Luggage Leads to Cocaine Bust]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 09:01:53 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cocaine-meat-jfk.jpg

An arriving passenger at JFK was carrying frozen meat with a most unusual stuffing, more than seven pounds of cocaine, federal authorities said.

Customs agents noticed that a man who just arrived at JFK from Trinidad last month had three large packages of frozen meat in his luggage.  When the agents checked further, they found cocaine hidden inside the meat. 

The passenger was arrested on federal narcotics smuggling charges.



<![CDATA[Woman Gets B-Day Card in Mail 45 Years Late]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:14:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/1969+mail1.JPG

A birthday card that was intended to reach a young Brooklyn woman on her 19th birthday has finally reached its destination, 45 years after it was first mailed.  

It's not the only piece of mail from 1969 that recently found its way to Susan Heifetz, now living in Floral Park. She says a man living in her childhood apartment building in Marine Park contacted her, saying he had mail addressed to her and postmarked 1969.

Heifetz knew right away the first piece of mail was from her late mother when she saw the lipstick print on the envelope.

"That was mother's thing, to put sealed with a kiss, and the tradition has continued," she said. 

Inside was the birthday card that cost just 6 cents to mail at the time. 

"I've been crying probably since Wednesday when I got this," she said. 

Two days later, another letter with the same Brooklyn address turned up, also written in 1969, from a soldier in Vietnam she had once dated.

"He said in the letter that he tried to call several times before he was shipped overseas, but of course in 1969, we didn't have answering machines," she said.

And then over the weekend, Heifetz got a 1969 birthday card from her brother, postmarked a day before her mother's card.

The Postal Service says it has processed and delivered more than 7 trillion pieces of mail since 1969 and that it's unlikely the three pieces of mail addressed to Heifetz were lost in the system. But it can't explain where they may have been for 45 years. 

Heifetz says the unexpected deliveries bring her a sense of closure as she packs up to retire to Nevada, where her brother and his family live. 


<![CDATA[Smart Cars Flipped Over in San Francisco]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 10:43:35 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/04-07-2014-smart-10.jpg Someone's been vandalizing compact Smart cars in San Francisco, flipping the tiny vehicles on their heads and rear ends in the streets of San Francisco.]]> <![CDATA[Toilet Paper Wedding Contest on a Roll]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 12:13:12 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/TP-Wedding-Dress.jpg

With 10 years running, you could say that a quirky competition known as the “Toilet Paper Wedding Contest” is truly on a roll.

The annual nationwide contest, created by the website Cheap-Chic-Weddings and sponsored by Charmin, is exactly what it sounds like: a battle of the best, most elaborate wedding gowns made entirely out of toilet paper.

That’s a whole lot of white, plushy two-ply.

Besides Charmin Toilet Paper, other materials designers are allowed to use include tape, glue, a needle and thread. That's it. Entries must also include a toilet paper headpiece.

The contest began two weeks ago and participants have until May 13 to submit their masterpieces by sending photos of their design on a model or mannequin to the Cheap-Chic-Weddings website.

From there, contest co-creator Susan Bain said the top 10 wedding dress entries will be chosen and online voting will open to the public. The contest will culminate on Jun. 12 at The Sanctuary Hotel on The Haven Rooftop in New York City where the top 10 designs will be showcased.

There, a winner will be chosen and the victor, quite fittingly, will receive a nice stack of paper – a $10,000 grand prize. Second place will walk away with $5,000 and third place will receive a $2,500 prize for their toilet paper creation.

The winners will be selected by a panel of judges, which includes “Project Runway” contestant Kate Pankoke.

But to take top honors in this year’s contest, designers will need to bring forth their TP A-game.

Bain told NBC 7 that contestants must step it up every year and with the 10th anniversary of the contest, this is especially true this time around.

Bain said details and extra accessories on the dresses get more intricate each year. Also, much like a wedding, competitors tend to use themes.

“Contestants use themes and name their dresses. Last year we had a dress that converted from long to short, a Japanese wedding kimono and a steam punk-inspired dress. The winner used glitter glue to form realistic calla lilies!” said Bain. “Above all of that, the workmanship has gotten better.”

Bain said the gowns are examined carefully by judges who always take into consideration how much the entry looks like a real wedding gown.

“To win this year it will take great photos [of the dress] at the start of the contest, excellent structure to the dress and details we haven't seen before,” she added.

Last year’s winner was an entry dubbed “Beautiful Swan,” pictured above.

For more information on the Toilet Paper Wedding Contest, click here.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Cheap-Chic-Weddings.com]]>
<![CDATA[Flipped-Over Smart Cars]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:37:16 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/smartcar21.jpg

Someone's been vandalizing compact Smart cars in San Francisco, flipping the tiny vehicles on their front and rear ends in the city's streets.

NBC Bay Area found four of the targeted Smart cars between Sunday night and Monday morning. Two were found in the Bernal Heights neighborhood on Anderson Street, and another was found a bit south on Sweeny and Bowdoin streets, closer to the Portola district. They were either sitting on their headlights, rear bumpers high in the air, or vice versa.

A fourth Smart car -- a small white one with a faded "Obama-Biden" bumper sticker -- was discovered Monday about 9 a.m. at Coso and Prospect avenues between the Mission District and Bernal Heights. Shelley Gallivan was babysitting her friend's Smart car after it was left to her by her late father, and was shocked to find it flipped on its right side.

"Whoever is doing this just has misdirected anger," Gallivan said.

San Francisco Police Officer Gordon Shyy said the suspects are still at large and will face felony vandalism charges if they are caught. Police do have an eye witness account to work from.

Brandon Michael was out having a cigarette about 1 a.m. Monday when he spotted about six to eight people wearing hooded sweatshirts flip over the cars.

"They looked like they were up to no good," Michael said. "And sure enough, they huddled around it and lifted it up."

And the vandalized cars? Michael said they reminded him of little dogs: "They look like they are dachshunds sitting up on their hind legs."

Smart car representatives did not respond immediately for comment.

Neighbors were puzzled at the odd sight. Smart cars are a mainstay for many in San Francisco, where parking is tight and drivers search for eco-friendly ways to get around.

"I think it's a bunch of pranks," Dan Gomez said. "I don't know, it sounds kind of weird. I don't know why you would want to do that."

Smart Automobile is headquartered in Boblingen, Germany, and has its primary assembly plant in Hambach, France.  The idea for the car was hatched in early 1990s when Nicholas Hayek, the inventor of the Swatch watch, approached Mercedes-Benz to realize his vision of an "ultra-urban" car, according to the company website. The first Smart car came to the United States - specifically Manhattan -  in 2008.

The cars start at about $13,000 and the company brands its cars with a lower case "s."

Tipping over large, heavy objects just for kicks is nothing new. High schoolers, football teams and fraternities have supposedly been tipping cows in pastures for years, and picking up VW bugs and moving them elsewhere was a minor fad back in the 1960s and 1970s.

The exact motives behind the vandalism are unclear. The diminutive cars are smaller and lighter than most vehicles. A Smart car weighs about 1,500 pounds; a Ford Focus S Sedan weighs close to 3,000 pounds, and a Hummer clocks in at 8,600 pounds -- definitely a heft that would pose a flipping challenge.

The VoiceofVancouver showed a video of people flipping over a Smart car in 2011 during a citywide riot, as did another YouTube user who showed people smashing the high-tech mini-car. In 2009, the Toronto Star wrote a piece, "Tipping Smart cars the latest prank trend," comparing the act of tipping over the pint-size vehicles as the modern-day equivalent of tipping over cows.

The Smart car website has a forum with frustrated car owners discussing the pricey prank.

And a parody Facebook page was set up called "Smart Car Tipping" by a creator who does not "practice, promote or condone Smart Car Tipping."

One website, however, seemed to be cheering on the tipping. TotalFratMove.com called the Smart car tippers "heroes" and described the cars as "teensy little wheeled boxes."

A Smart car flipped over on Anderson Street in San Francisco. April, 7, 2014.

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Bryan Carmody]]>
<![CDATA[3 Rescued From Burning Boat in N.Y.]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 11:12:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/boat+fire+long+island.jpg

The Coast Guard says it rescued three people stranded when their boat caught fire off Long Island Sunday. 

The three people abandoned their 36-foot cabin cruiser when it was engulfed by fire off Shinnecock Inlet and swam to a life boat they had deployed before a rescue crew from Coast Guard Station Shinnecock and the South Hampton Bay Constables reached them.

"They had only been in the water for a few minutes and they were already showing signs of mild hypothermia,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Rogers, of Coast Guard Station Shinnecock.

The three received medical attention when they reached shore.

Their boat, meanwhile, sank after the North Sea Fire Department put out the fire.

Photo Credit: Coast Guard]]>
<![CDATA[Shoplifter Strips to Escape Family Dollar Store]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:43:49 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/shoplifter.jpeg

A shoplifter at an Oakland Park store lost his shirt as fled the scene of the crime last Thursday.

A manager at the Family Dollar store located at 2901 W. Oakland Park Blvd. confronted a shoplifter who was shoving items into his pants, according to deputies.

The surveillance video captures the manager grabbing the man’s arms when he tried to flee. Deputies said the man yelled for her to let go of him, but when she refused, he struggled until she pulled his sweater off his body.

The shirtless shopper fled in a dark red truck with a partial Florida tag that read “BED”. He made off with more an a hundred dollars worth of merchandise, deputies said.

<![CDATA[Stenographer Types "I Hate My Job"]]> Sat, 05 Apr 2014 03:20:43 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/courtroom+generic+722.jpg

Officials at a Manhattan court are scrambling to make sense of botched court transcripts in 30 cases after the stenographer allegedly typed gibberish and, in one case, "I hate my job, I hate my job," over and over, according to a published report.

The New York Post reports that Daniel Kochanski, 43, typed random keys or "I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job" while he was supposed to be transcribing court proceedings.

The Post, citing a high-level source, reports Kochanski's "gibberish" typing may have jeopardized convictions by giving defendants a chance to claim crucial evidence is missing.

Family members told the Post Kochanski had been an alcoholic, and the 43-year-old told the paper over the phone that he was fired because of substance abuse but not because he failed at his job. 

Kochanski was fired in March 2012 for misconduct, an Office of Court Administration spokesman told the paper. The Manhattan DA's office arrested him and forced him to try to make sense of his shorthand typing, sources told the Post, but the effort apparently failed.

Judges have been holding "reconstruction hearings" in which everyone involved in a case testifies about what they remember, despite years having passed since the cases.

The Center for Appellate Litigation is handling appeals in 10 cases in which Kochanski botched the court transcripts.

"I never had a situation where a single court reporter was responsible for so much damage," said Claudia Trupp, an administrator at the center.

Kochanski denied bungling the transcripts. 

"I always did my job 100 percent," he told the Post, adding that he was in recovery and will be one year clean by July. 

<![CDATA[Pantsless Subway Worker Disciplined]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 20:56:43 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/mta+worker+subway+no+pants.jpg

An MTA worker who stripped down to his underwear for the annual No Pants Subway Ride staged by Improv Everywhere was written up and reprimanded by a supervisor for engaging in "conduct unbecoming" even though he was off the clock when he participated in the January event, according to a published report.

More than 4,000 people in New York, along with MTA motorman Christopher Chase, participated in the 13th Annual No Pants Subway Ride Jan. 12, according to Improv Everywhere. The event, where random passengers board trains in the middle of winter with gloves, hats and scarfs but no pants, is held in more than 60 cities worldwide each year, and New York city officials have continued to sanction it.

According to the Daily News
, a co-worker saw a picture of Chase on the 14th Street subway platform wearing a hooded sweatshirt, socks and green, white and blue briefs on Facebook and complained. The 39-year-old subway worker then was scolded by an MTA boss and told to vow in writing that it would not engage in similar conduct -- conduct that could tarnish the agency's reputation -- in the future.

Chase, a 13-year MTA veteran, also had to review the MTA's code of conduct, the paper said. Within that code is the rule that he is alleged to have violated. It states employees must “avoid behavior which would tend to create adverse criticism of the Authority or of the System. Their conduct, whether on or off duty on System Property, is required to be such as to merit the confidence and respect of the public and their superiors.”

But since Chase was off-duty -- he told the News he was on vacation -- when he participated in the event, union officials want any mention of a reprimand erased from his employment record. Transport Workers Union Local 100 lawyer Betzabeth Sanchez complained in a letter to the MTA that him getting written up was "plainly unreasonable" and violated his right to free speech, the News reported.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz confirmed to the News that Chase was written up, but said he "was not disciplined." He had no further comment to the paper other than, "We received a complaint and had to look into it."