Bank Boo-Boo Destroys Safe-Deposit Boxes

Several dozen people in Hong Kong must have been hopping mad after a leading bank destroyed at least 83 occupied safe-deposit boxes.

A Kowloon branch of Singapore-based DBS Bank (search), which calls itself "the largest banking group in Southeast Asia," underwent renovation over the weekend, reports ChannelNewsAsia.

Nine hundred and twenty presumably empty safe-deposit boxes were sent to the scrapyard — but no one from the bank bothered to make sure there really was nothing inside any of them.

"Unfortunately, during the process, an error was made," Sunny Cheung, managing director of consumer banking at DBS Bank Hong Kong, told ChannelNewsAsia, Tuesday.

Most of the affected clients were informed of the mistake by the bank, but some found out by watching television news.

Local residents said that before the boxes were taken away, they had lain on the ground outside the branch being renovated.

Some of the contents of the boxes were recovered at the scrapyard, and bank officials were going back to have a further look.

There may be a somewhat unethical silver lining for those who lost property.

DBS said it planned to compensate its affected clients in full. Since there would be no way to independently assess what was inside each box, a spokesperson implied that the bank was willing to absorb the cost of hugely inflated claims.

"At the end, we have to work together with our customers to ascertain the value of the contents inside," Cheung told the BBC. "It is very hard for us to say at this point in time what will be the amount, so I think we have to reiterate DBS takes ultimate responsibility for this incident and we will honor our obligation to our customers."

Hot for Playboy

A 13-year-old London boy, outraged that a shopkeeper wouldn't sell him a copy of Playboy (search), set fire first to the shop and then to a city bus, a court was told last month.

Prosecutor Andrew Polnay told Inner London Crown Court on Sept. 27 that the pubescent pyromaniac and a friend had headed straight for the naughty magazines upon entering the newsstand in Charlton, southeast London, on Nov. 8, 2003.

But the owner told the lustful lads that they'd have to wait a few years before they could buy pictures of naked ladies, reports the British Press Association.

Polnay said that the unnamed boy left the shop, then went around back and set fire to the newsstand's storeroom.

"The fire took hold, fairly quickly became uncontrollable and spread to the roof of a garage next door," he told the court as the defendant, now 14, sat with his parents sucking his thumb.

Polnay estimated the damage at about $5,500.

After setting fire to the shop, the prosecutor said, the frisky firebug and his pal got on a bus, where witnesses saw a fire erupt seconds after the pair had crouched down behind an upper-deck seat.

"It was a short, but reasonably fierce fire which a member of the public managed to put out with his jacket," said Polnay.

The boy, who had a history of lighting fires in the bathroom at home, turned himself in after security-camera photos were published in a local newspaper and admitted to the incidents.

Following the Crown Court hearing, the boy's case was turned over to a juvenile court. His friend had been cleared of wrongdoing in an earlier hearing.

Drug Den Turns Out to Be Roach Motel

ANSONIA, Conn. (AP) — They were looking for drugs, but also found bugs.

Undercover agents raided an apartment early Saturday morning and found the place overrun with cockroaches.

Officers said the property was "disgusting" and "unsanitary."

They also said they discovered some marijuana, cocaine and drug-packaging materials, but the tenants weren't home. Police said someone attempted to fumigate the apartment, but apparently was unsuccessful.

"Apparently, the bugs got to the dealers before the cops did," Shelton Det. Sgt. Michael Madden said.

Police said they anticipate making arrests in connection with the raid.

Maybe He Should Have Offered More

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (AP) — A 17-year-old high school student was detained and released after being accused of trying to bribe a teacher to alter attendance records so he could make a drug run.

The student handed a note with some money to Matthew Courtney, who teaches English as a second language, promising to make him rich if he went along with the scheme, said Deputy Joel Manley, a spokesman for the Clackamas County (search) Sheriff's Office.

The note said the student had taken orders for drugs from other students and had to go to Arizona and California to pick up a shipment, authorities said.

Courtney reported the incident to the principal, who called police. The student was arrested Thursday.

"Never in my 26 years of police work have I ever heard of a student trying to bribe a teacher," said Sgt. Kim Klusmann.

The sheriff's office was looking into whether the incident might be a hoax or practical joke, Klusmann said.

The amount of the intended bribe might have been less than $100, he said.

If convicted as an adult of bribe-giving, a Class B Felony, he could get as much as 20 years in jail and a fine of $250,000.

A deputy has been assigned to follow up on students who may have placed drug orders.

Some of the drugs thought to be involved may be methamphetamines, Klusmann said.

Teacher Tries, Fails to Keep It Real

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — School officials in a Washington, D.C., suburb have a lot of questions about a phony test given to some high school students.

Prince George's County school officials are apologizing to parents for the test that included questions about drugs, crime and weapons.

Officials say a tenth-grade geometry teacher at Oxon Hill High School (search) administered what is being called a "fake math proficiency test."

It contained math word problems beginning with phrases like "Jose has two ounces of cocaine," "Willie gets $200 for a stolen BMW," and "Raul gets six years for murder."

One parent says she's appalled.

The school board says it will take what it calls "appropriate administrative action" and apologize to parents in writing.

Suspected Car Thief Finds Self Up on Blocks

PITTSFIELD, Maine (AP) — A drug suspect who eluded capture in Maine and Colorado was captured Monday when he hopped into a car, cranked the engine and went nowhere because the wheels were lifted off the ground for repairs.

Jason Belmer, who is accused of burying cocaine in his grandmother's yard, was caught trying to steal the car, Police Chief Steven Emery said.

"He jumped into the car and started it up and tried to drive away. His big downfall was they had been working on it and it was on jacks," Emery said.

Belmer, 25, had been on the lam since running into the woods after 8 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $380,000, was seized Aug. 19 from his grandmother's property in Corinna.

A Colorado State Patrol trooper stopped a car in which Belmer was a passenger for speeding on Interstate 70 in eastern Colorado in early September. Belmer eluded capture by running into a cornfield. Authorities here were tipped that he had returned to Maine.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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