Car Thief Helps Owner Track Every Move

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You could say this thief was really only borrowing the car — because he made sure the previous owner knew his every move.

The car thief made a perfect, stealthy midnight getaway in a Subaru from Dinah Thompson's Danville, Calif., home — but he forgot to remove the FasTrak device that charted every turn he made, according to the Contra Costa Times.

"He racked up 4,000 miles on my car," Thompson told the Times. "I couldn't believe he left the FasTrak in there."

Maybe the thief was just cheap and didn't want to pay tolls. The FasTrak e-toll device automatically takes money from the owner's account to speed up tollbooth stops, recording the time and location of each payment.

Calmly logging on to her Internet FasTrak account, Thompson watched in amusement in the hours after her car was stolen on Sept. 22.

Thompson saw that her car thief scampered over the Bay Bridge at 2:22 p.m.

Two days later, she noticed the clueless thief shot across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge at 5:16 p.m.

The well-monitored thief kept crossing the bridge between Contra Costa and Marin counties the next week — sometimes twice a day — as a smiling Thompson tracked each move online and passed it all to the cops.

San Anselmo Police Det. Ryan Dunnigan followed all of the time stamps recorded at the bridges and said police used them to determine the doomed thief's general whereabouts.

Dunnigan told the Times the FasTrak even allowed cops to obtain a photo and link the thief to new car thefts and other break-ins in Marin County — and recover Thompson's stolen Subaru.

"It was very helpful she had FasTrak in the car," Dunnigan told the paper. "It's definitely one of the tools in our toolbox, and it's becoming more and more valuable for tracking purposes because it fills in some blanks and helps us put the whole picture together."

— Thanks to Out There reader Shannon O.

Spatula Wins Showdown With Gun

A worker armed with a spatula foiled an armed robbery at a Tifton, Ga., Papa John's pizzeria, according to The Tifton Gazette.

A skittish robber pulled a handgun and demanded money from a 61-year-old Fitzgerald man working the cash register.

The cashier smacked the man's hand away, failing to knock the gun loose, and then heard a clicking sound making him think the gunman had tried to shoot.

The frightened worker ran into the back and grabbed a spatula as the robber stepped around the counter — leveling his weapon and squeezing the trigger, but nothing happened.

The cashier then chucked the spatula at the man, who ran out of the restaurant heading south. Beware: The spatula-wary gunman remains on the loose.

— Thanks to Out There reader Grant B.

I'd Like My Robber Well Done

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (AP) — A former employee who attempted to burglarize a restaurant apparently didn't know any good hiding places.

Police responded to a burglary alarm at the Speedway Restaurant early Monday and surrounded the building.

When officers entered, they discovered that the burglar had tried to hide in the ceiling. He fell through and tried hiding in an oven instead.

"The guy was only half-baked when he was picked up," joked Police Capt. Hugo McPhee.

The 43-year-old man was taken to the Otter Tail County Jail.

— Thanks to Out There readers Julie B. and Shannon O.

Somebody Get This Man His Coffee!

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (AP) — A Butler County murder suspect trying to get his confession thrown out was likely suffering nicotine and caffeine withdrawal when he told police he accidentally stabbed his estranged wife seven times, a prison psychiatrist said.

Denny Winner, of Butler, is charged with killing Lynette Winner in November 2004 when she refused his demands for sex. He is also accused of setting fire to her apartment 13 days later in an attempt to cover up the killing. He told police he accidentally stabbed her seven times when she pulled a knife on him, investigators have said.

Mr. Winner, who said he drank 10 to 16 cups of coffee and smoked two to three packs of cigarettes daily, drank only one caffeinated beverage and smoke one cigarette during 14 hours of police questioning before confessing, Dr. Grace McGorrian, a Butler County prison psychiatrist, testified yesterday.

He was in a weakened mental and physical state from withdrawal, and that affected his ability to understand his rights when he allegedly confessed, Dr. McGorrian said.

Winner's defense attorney, Joe Kecskemethy, wants the confession tossed out, claiming it was coerced. He also claims Mr. Winner did not understand his right to have an attorney with him during questioning.

The prosecutor suggested Mr. Winner was intentionally trying to minimize his involvement in the killing when he spoke to police. Mr. Winner was "taking advantage of the opportunity to give his spin of what he did," prosecutor Jerry Cassady said.

Judge William Shaffer did not indicate when he would rule on the statement's admissibility.

— Thanks to Out There reader Mike C.

You Mean You Didn't Like My Canary-Yellow Dress, Chief?

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — You can't call this top cop a plainclothes policeman — not after he appeared on television in a canary-yellow dress, sporting dark red lipstick, matching nail polish and a nose ring.

State officials ordered a probe into the behavior of Devendra Kumar Panda, an inspector general in the Uttar Pradesh state police, which could cost him his job, officials said Tuesday.

Panda, 57, who believes himself to be the reincarnation of a lady consort of the Hindu amorous god Krishna, claims he is merely exercising his freedom of religion. But his wife, who is suing him, says he is no woman at heart — just a womanizer.

"He is normal at home or when he is chatting on the Internet. He behaves [this way] to get into the company of other women, whom he calls friends," his wife, Veena, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Panda's cross-dressing came to his superiors' attention after he appeared in court on Saturday in full drag and gave interviews to several local TV channels.

The "government has initiated a probe into Panda's behavior," said Uttar Pradesh Home Secretary Alok Sinha. "It is a real embarrassment for [the] police force if its senior officer behaves in such a manner," Sinha told The Associated Press.

Sinha said if the investigation found Panda guilty of behavior unbecoming for an officer he could lose his job.

Panda said he is only following his faith.

He said he has been dressing as a woman for the last 10 years since the god Krishna — described in mythology as a flirtatious young man — appeared to him in a vision and informed him he was the reincarnation of one of Krishna's consorts, Radha.

"I am just obeying the orders of Lord Krishna," Panda told the AP. "He has asked me to dress up like this. I am doing whatever he has asked me to do," Panda, who now calls himself Doosri Radha, or Second Radha, said.

Uttar Pradesh Police Chief Yashpal Singh said he had known of Panda's fashion preferences for a while, but that his TV appearance was the final straw.

"After he danced his way through TV channels on Saturday dressed up as a woman and gave interviews in which he addressed himself in feminine gender, we cannot ignore the issue any longer," Singh told The Asian Age newspaper.

"The police force has become the butt of jokes because of this," he said.

— Thanks to Out There readers Susan A. and Shannon O.

Find My Stolen Loot, Please

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A bank robber's jailhouse boast about the location of his hidden loot led officers to the stash after fellow inmates shared his secret.

Investigators dug up nearly $5,000 last week that 26-year-old Julian Leon Jordan was convicted of stealing Okaloosa County sheriff's spokeswoman Michele Nicholson said Tuesday. The crime took place at a bank in nearby Florosa last year.

Two inmates overheard Jordan telling other inmates where he had buried the cash and contacted authorities, she said.

Investigators failed to find the money in an October search behind a storage and building company in Fort Walton Beach. But they had success the following week when a former inmate appeared and asked the business for permission to search for money behind the building.

The business called the sheriff's office and the former inmate cooperated with investigators to locate the buried cash.

"He'd been arrested for trespassing in the past and didn't want to get arrested again," Nicholson said.

Nicholson said the man had been in jail with Jordan who told him where to find the money. She also said the man wasn't arrested because he cooperated.

— Thanks to Out There readers Beth M. and Aimee H.

Compiled by's Andrew Hard.

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