Shiny, Cool, Easy to Steal

Apple Computer's cute little iPod portable music players sure are popular — maybe too popular.

British thieves are so fond of swiping the pricey MP3 players that police this week asked iPod (search) users to consider switching to boring black or gray headphones, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Turns out the standard white "ear buds," which identify an iPod user immediately, are mugger magnets.

"People need to use common sense," said a West Midlands police spokesman. "Using different color headphones might be useful to pretend you were listening to something cheaper, such as a portable stereo."

Crime rates in Britain have soared in recent years, with muggers known to snatch cell phones and other electronic gadgets right out of users' hands.

"A man asked if I was wearing an iPod," said Birmingham student Roland Baskerville, "and as soon as I told him 'Yes,' he pulled a knife out and started waving it at me, saying 'Well, hand it over then.' I gave it to him and he ran off."

An Apple spokesman contended that iPod users would "rather be robbed" than suffer the indignity of appearing to use different personal music players.

"It's up to the consumer if they want to use black or gray headphones instead," he said. "Some users really like the coolness of being seen wearing an iPod."

Gary Parkinson, a magazine editor, told the newspaper the theft appeal comes with the territory.

"You are an obvious target," he explained. "The other problem is that the iPod is so shiny and lovely you want to get it out and show people. This attracts criminals like magpies."

Rocket's Red Glare, Smell of Burning Hair

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Shannon Kramer's plans to fire a rocket toward his girlfriend went awry when the firework ricocheted inside his car and dived between his legs, bursting in a display that burned hair and skin from his feet to his groin, police said.

Kramer, 35, told The Florida Times-Union he lit a fuse on the 6-inch-rocket, but wasn't able to get it out the window of his Ford Mustang before it went off.

"I thought I was dead," Kramer said. "I couldn't see, I couldn't hear. I went to stand up and I couldn't walk."

Kramer said he suffered second-degree burns and a cut on one leg. His eyelashes and a lot of body hair are gone and an outline of his sandals is burned onto his feet.

Jacksonville police were called to the explosion about 9:30 p.m. Sunday and were told a man who had been threatening his girlfriend with a bomb had had a mishap.

Kramer said he was only playing a prank and had intended to fire the rocket out the window as he passed.

Prosecutors declined to charge Kramer.

Kramer said the rocket, which resembled a bottle rocket (search), was the diameter of a golf ball.

"I had a couple, but this was the biggest," he said. "No more of those."

— Thanks to Out There reader Mark H.

I Foresee a Wild-Goose Chase

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A self-described psychic's tip that a bomb might be on a plane prompted a search with bomb-sniffing dogs that turned up nothing suspicious, but forced the cancellation of the flight.

American Airlines Flight 1304 at Southwest Florida International Airport (search) was canceled Friday because some crew members had exceeded their work hours by the time the search was finished, officials said.

The purported psychic's call was "unusual," conceded Doug Perkins, local administrator for the federal Transportation Security Administration director.

"But in these times, we can't ignore anything. We want to take the appropriate measures," he said.

None of the 128 passengers had boarded yet for the flight to Dallas when the search was ordered, Perkins said.

TSA officials wouldn't say who the call came from or who received it.

The passengers were placed on later flights, American Airlines officials said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Tim G.

Third-Graders Steal Gun, Cigarettes, Truck

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A pair of 9-year-old boys broke into several cars Tuesday morning before stealing a pickup truck and driving it to the local Wal-Mart Super Center, Kirksville police said.

One of the boys apparently sat in the drivers' seat to steer the half-ton Chevrolet pickup while the other manned the gas pedal and brake, Sgt. Steve Farnsworth said.

Police arrested the juveniles around 9:30 a.m. after getting a call from a tractor-trailer driver who spotted the stolen pickup weaving down U.S. 63 in Kirksville.

Authorities believe the two boys decided to skip school Tuesday and then stole a BB gun pistol, a pack of cigarettes and two lighters from vehicles in the Kirksville High School (search) and Vo-Tech parking lots.

When the pair found a truck with keys in the ignition, they drove about two miles to Wal-Mart, Farnsworth said.

"Although there is some humor to the story," Farnsworth said, "this could have turned into a serious tragedy."

— Thanks to Out There reader Aaron Z.

Beer Allegedly Offered for Vote

LUDLOW, Ky. (AP) — Police have charged a northern Kentucky man with trying to buy a vote — with a 12-pack of beer.

Edward Lucas offered the beer to an 18-year-old student at Ludlow High School in exchange for a "no" vote on a proposed nickel increase in school property taxes, Ludlow police officer James Tucker said in an affidavit. The teen was not named.

Lucas, 40, denied the charge.

"I don't know the boy, and that's not exactly what was said," Lucas said. "I said, 'I hope it doesn't go through and if it doesn't, I'm going to have a big beer party.'"

Lucas was arrested Friday and released on bond Saturday.

Police dispute his version of the exchange, but declined to give specifics.

The tax increase was on the ballot Tuesday. It would generate about $75,000 a year for school construction projects.

Frog Almost Ends Up as Part of Salad

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A busy mom was making a green salad when she unexpectedly came across some protein — live protein.

Laurie Kollman was tearing up triple-washed spinach Sunday night when her 11-year-old daughter Ashley saw something moving. It was a small tree frog.

"All last week I'd been pulling out handfuls of spinach," said Kollman, who said she'd used the spinach in three earlier salads. "Then last night I was making salad for today's lunch and found it."

Kollman uncovered the tiny, lethargic frog and made it a home in a plastic tub, with spinach to eat.

"Mom, it's 'Fear Factor,'" Ashley said in reference to the TV show where people earn prize money by eating all sorts of gross things.

Kollman said the frog perked up after it was freed from the fridge and she took it to school Monday to show her 20 third-grade students at St. Matthew's School.

The students quickly named it "Popeye."

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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