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Teens terrorize local statues


(Court TV) -- Mascots and lawn ornaments in Eaton County, Michigan -- and those who care about them -- can rest easily again.

Police recently caught up with a gang of statue-napping high school seniors and put an end to their escapades.

But the rescue came too late for one big bird.

According to Eaton County Police Captain Fred McPhail, the idea to steal oversized mascots and statues from local businesses started as a prank for bragging rights among four local teens. Their names have not been released.

Their first target was a popular green ogre and movie star.

"They stole an inflatable Shrek off of Burger King," Captain McPhail said. "They also had their eye on Big Boy from Big Boy restaurant."

Luckily for the cherub-faced Big Boy, the teens hit another area restaurant first: Joe's Gizzard City, home to a 13-foot-tall Fiberglass chicken mascot. Not only was the fake bird too heavy to transport, it was secured with a lock and chain. So as not to leave empty-handed, perhaps, the vandals decapitated the chicken with a hacksaw.

McPhail said the teens passed the severed head among their friends, but when police tracked down a suspect, the others tried to destroy the evidence. They took the head to a field and attempted to burn it.

Eventually, one of the teens came forward and confessed to the beheading and other heists, according to McPhail. The teens had also allegedly stolen a 300-pound concrete cow from a farm. The cow and Shrek were recovered and returned to their owners.

The teens have not been charged with a crime.

"Their parents are trying to raise money to pay for the chicken," McPhail said. "But they have until the end of the month. If they don't pay up the owner wants to prosecute."

The teens would face charges of malicious destruction of property if they are unable to pay for the mascot. Damage to the mascot is estimated at $6,700.

Parking goof derails bank robbery

Knute Falk planned his first bank robbery by the book. He had a mask to hide his face, a loaded gun to wave at bank employees and customers, a bag for the cash, and a getaway car. Yet his big debut went bust.

The 54-year-old Oregon man allegedly walked into a Beaverton Bank of America May 20 and announced he was there to rob the bank.

Police say Falk corralled bank employees and customers into a corner, but left one teller behind the counters to empty the drawers. He directed another teller to retrieve money from the vault.

According to Officer Mark Hyde, Falk's first robbery could have netted him $180,000 if he had parked a little closer to the bank.

Falk had parked his getaway car about a quarter-mile away. But when he wanted to make his escape he needed a faster way to get to his car.

"He took the keys to a customer's car, went out but was unable to unlock the car door," Hyde said.

Falk reportedly took off his mask and returned to the bank. The customer who had observed that Falk was having difficulty opening his car yelled out to the robber, "It's the silver Infiniti key!"

By the time Falk was able to make his escape police had already been alerted about the robbery and the car's description. They observed Falk coming from the direction of the bank and followed him to the parking lot where he left his original getaway car.

Falk was apprehended as he transferred money from one car to the other. He was indicted for armed robbery, and is being held in a Portland detention center.

Religious fire starter faces judgment

Matthew McCoy blames his personal woes for his bizarre attempt to rid the world of a statue.

The San Jose man was sentenced June 22 for setting a figure of Jesus on fire last November.

According to the San Mateo County Times, McCoy, 26, had been bothered for some time by the appearance of the statue in the courtyard of St. Bruno's Catholic Church. He has said he felt there was something odd about the statue because it featured Jesus wearing a silver robe and bleeding from the head without a crown of thorns. He didn't recognize this particular image of Jesus, he said.

But McCoy said his personal misfortunes ? his girlfriend had just dumped him and he ran out of his unemployment benefits ? pushed him over the edge and propelled him to take action.

"It was because of a woman," McCoy told the paper. "I thought I was doing a good thing for this church by removing an evil symbol."

McCoy attempted to break the Plexiglass container that housed the statue but the glass withstood his assault. He then doused the container with gasoline and used his lighter to set the fire.

McCoy was arrested. He confessed to the crime and was charged with felony endangerment. The charge was later reduced to arson and he pleaded no contest.

McCoy was sentenced to a year in jail, but he received 327 days in jail for time served. According to the news report, he was placed on three years probation and ordered to pay $3,748 to the church for the damaged statue.


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