Kiddie Cops

In India, cows roam the streets, highly educated people drive buses — and children work as policemen.

Because of a tradition that family members can take over the coveted jobs of government workers who die while in service, many Indian boys find themselves in adult positions if their fathers suddenly die, reports the BBC.

Saurabh Nagvanshi, 5, works part-time filing papers and serving tea at his father's old police station in the city of Raipur (search) in the central part of the country.

"In order to run the house, I had no option but to make my child work," said his mother. "It's not nice. He should be jumping around and playing at his age."

For his trouble, Saurabh is paid $57 per month — enough to support a family of five. When a reporter tries to ask him a question, he runs and hides behind his mother.

Manish Khoonte, 10, fills in at his deceased father's police station after school, giving up his beloved soccer practice. His friends call him "policeman."

Railway Police superintendent Pawan Dev explains that the boys' tasks are not difficult and that the families are grateful to keep the jobs in the family.

But others criticize the system, saying it exploits children.

"It is very similar to the definition of child soldiers as outlined by the United Nations," lamented Subhash Mahapatra, head of the human-rights organization Forum for Fact-Finding, Documentation and Advocacy (search).

— Thanks to Out There reader Peter L.

Only You Can Start Forest Fires

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — An elementary school was evacuated Thursday after a retired forest ranger accidentally started a fire while teaching students about 19th-century life.

Gary Hodgson was trying to show fifth-graders how pioneers built fires without matches when some gunpowder ignited, school officials and police said.

The classroom filled with smoke, but no students were seriously injured.

It wasn't clear how the 9:30 a.m. accident happened.

Hodgson was hospitalized in stable condition with burns to his face, hands and chest.

"He is an expert," volunteer firefighter Pat Gallagher said. "If you were going into the woods with somebody, he'd be the guy you'd pick."

— Thanks to Out There reader Dave F.

Pizza Man Especially Committed to Making Deliveries

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A robbery attempt by a masked man and a gunshot wound to the leg didn't stop a pizza delivery man from making his rounds, pies in hand.

Thomas Stefanelli, 37, said dedication to his job at Hungry Howie's Pizza (search) kept him on the job after a struggle with a robber Saturday night left him bleeding from a bullet wound in his left thigh.

Stefanelli arrived at a home only to realize it was vacant, police said. The masked man approached Stefanelli, pointed a gun and demanded money.

Stefanelli said he fought with the man, and two shots were fired. One hit Stefanelli, but he did not immediately notice.

The shooter eventually fled with a second man.

"They figured they were going to make an easy mark by robbing a pizza delivery person," said police spokesman Joe Durkin.

Stefanelli finally noticed his wound. His cell phone wasn't working, so he drove to his next delivery address, dropped off the pie and called his boss to ask him to call the police.

Stefanelli went on to make three more deliveries.

"It bled a little bit, not much," he said.

He was treated and released from a hospital.

No arrests have been made, but police have identified several suspects, Durkin said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Tony L.

One Cabbie Steals ...

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A crook in San Francisco isn't just stealing from cabbies — he's stealing the cabs.

Six Yellow Cabs (search) have been stolen in the last two weeks by someone who may have a master key, police say.

The thief has been covering the in-car video system and then picking up passengers, making money without paying the $95 daily gate fee to the company.

"He knows what he is doing," said Inspector Dean Marcic of the auto theft unit.

One recent theft took place near police headquarters. The cab was later abandoned and showed $80 worth of fares on the meter, Marcic said.

The thief drove off in another Yellow Cab.

"This guy here, maybe he can't get a license, maybe he lost it or can't afford it — this is how he's making his money," Marcic said.

... And Another Cabbie Stops a Thief

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A taxi cab probably isn't the best getaway car for a bank robbery. At least that's what one suspect learned Monday after a couple of quick-thinking customers and veteran cabbie foiled his attempt.

Police said 50-year-old Maurice Eugene Fields Jr. hailed a cab to take him to the nearby South Carolina Community Bank (search) and asked the driver to wait for him.

When he came out with a fistful of money, a couple of customers followed him and told the cabbie not to take him anywhere because he had just robbed the bank, police said.

Driver Michael Airs took his keys and got out of the cab.

The suspect slipped through the back seat and walked away, but one of the customers followed him and kept in touch with someone else at the bank by cell phone.

At one point, the suspect told the customer, "Just let me go," according to police.

Officers closed in on Fields, who gave up without resisting, said detective Sgt. Dana Oree of the Columbia Police Department.

Oree said while the help was appreciated, it can be dangerous to interact with a criminal.

"In this specific incident, everything worked out, and nobody got hurt," Oree said.

Mom Lets Boy Drive — Bad Idea

CHICAGO (AP) — A woman allowed her 11-year-old son to drive the family's minivan to his elementary school, where the boy crashed the vehicle near a group of children.

No one was hurt. The boy, however, was expelled from school, and both he and his mother were ordered to traffic court later this month.

The crash happened Monday outside St. John Fisher School on Chicago's South Side, not far from where the children were lining up to go inside. The minivan jumped the curb and hit a school zone sign as the boy tried to turn a corner, authorities said.

Police said they don't know why Erin Sarandah decided to let her son drive the couple of blocks from home to the school while she and her daughter were passengers.

"She had a license," said police spokesman Pat Camden.

Sarandah was cited for damage to property and allowing an unauthorized person to drive, Camden said. The boy received a traffic ticket for negligent driving and driving without a license.

A telephone listing for Sarandah could not immediately be found.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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