Carjack Victim Gets Good News, Bad News

A Pittsburgh carjacking victim was relieved when police found his vehicle undamaged — and angry when the city made him pay to get it back.

Burton Nord, 60, was dropping off his girlfriend at her home on the night of Saturday, Aug. 7, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After she got out to see why her dog was barking, a man stepped up to the driver's window of Nord's 2003 Toyota Avalon (search), put a gun to his head and demanded cash and his car.

"He said, 'Give me your keys and your money, step out of the car and stand over there so you don't get hurt,'" Nord told the newspaper.

Nord handed over $100 and his car keys. As the carjacker pulled away, two other men stepped out of the bushes and got in before the car took off.

Within an hour, police had spotted the car, arrested three men and driven Nord down to identify both the vehicle and the alleged perpetrators.

That was only the beginning.

The police officers handling the case told Nord that since the car had to be examined for fingerprints and other evidence, the earliest he could get it back would be at 4 p.m. the following day, when they'd be back on duty.

So Nord called at 4 p.m. Sunday. The cops weren't there yet. He called again at 7, when he learned the car had been taken down to the city pound.

Nord got to the pound at 9:30 p.m. and discovered he had to pay $145 to get back behind the wheel.

"Once it gets to the pound, there will be a charge," Sgt. George DeVault, who runs the pound, told the Post-Gazette.

After a heated argument, during which Nord threatened to just hop into his car — the keys were still in the ignition — he paid the fee "under protest" with a credit card.

"I was a little out of line, I agree," Nord told the newspaper.

The next day, Nord found out he could have gotten it out for free had he been able to reach the chief of police, who was on military duty over the weekend.

Police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr. (search) admitted there had been some "miscommunication" about the options available to Nord. But he defended his department's actions.

"I can understand someone being upset," he said, "but I would think there should be some consideration given to the fact that we recovered this man's car with no damage."

But when a former police commander was carjacked a week earlier, Pittsburgh cops dusted her recovered vehicle for fingerprints immediately and let her drive it away from the scene.

McNeilly promised the city's policy of towing cars involved in crimes would be reviewed, but offered no timetable.

Nord plans to go to traffic court to get his $145 back.

"A robber took all my money," he told the Post-Gazette. "Luckily, he didn't take my wallet, or the car would still be there."

Trash Cash Result of Bank Error

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — A cache of cash found in the Columbus landfill was the result of a bank error, police said.

The money — more than $46,000 — was found on July 23 by a backhoe operator who was digging through mounds of garbage at the Pine Grove Landfill (search). That was about the same amount of money a Columbus bank misplaced, according to what one bank official told the local FBI office in July 2002.

Bank officials alerted police about the possibility the money belonged to them after the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported the backhoe operator's find.

Authorities proved the money belonged to the financial institution because remnants of bank wrappers were mixed in with the misplaced cash.

The money was returned to its proper home on Friday. Officials asked police not to reveal the bank's name.

Man Sneaks Beer Into Jail

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — A group of Bethlehem police suddenly noticed that the surveillance monitor of their holding cell had become more eye-catching than the episode of "Cops" on the police station television.

Police said Timothy Hartzell, 21, of Dundalk, Md., was being held after an arrest for public drunkenness on Saturday.

"What is he doing to the toilet?" officer Jeffrey Rogers said, squinting at the monitor. "Is that a can of beer he's got there? Are you kidding me? This guy's drinking a can of beer."

No one could say how, but police said Hartzell had smuggled a 12-ounce can of beer into the cell with him.

Police said Hartzell could be seen on the monitor trying to stash the beer when he heard officers approaching his cell. Police removed him from the cell, found the beer behind the toilet, and put Hartzell back in the cell.

Officials said Hartzell registered a 0.33 percent on a Breathalyzer test, compared with a legal limit of 0.08 for driving in Pennsylvania.

'Mother' Comes Home in Duffel Bag

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — A pregnant tortoise missing for about a week was returned home unharmed in an Army duffel bag.

David and Brenda Morris said they discovered their 90-pound African Spur Thigh tortoise (search) named Mother on their front porch Sunday in this city about 50 miles north of Indianapolis.

Mother had been missing since someone was seen about a week ago taking her from the couple's backyard.

David Morris said the theft brought him to tears, comparing it to "waking up and finding your 13-year-old son or daughter missing from your home."

When she was found Sunday, Mother was hungry but otherwise safe, the owners said. After devouring a banana and an ear of corn, she was released into her backyard home, where she spent the night huddling with her mate, Flash, in a doghouse.

The duffel bag contained several other items, including a letter addressed to "Becky" from "Jeff," a black T-shirt, bubble gum and a certificate of authenticity for a collectible doll, the couple said.

The owners said they do not know who took the animal.

Mother is expected to lay an estimated 60 to 70 eggs in about two months.

Retired Minister Destroys Printed Matter

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — A man reclaimed his title as world champion phone book ripper by tearing through 39 Portland white page directories in three minutes.

About 100 people watched as Ed Charon, 69, ripped the 1,004-page books in half during the exhibition at the Roseburg Valley Mall (search).

After the first 60 seconds, Charon had already ripped through 16 phone books, three shy of the number he tore through two years ago when he originally set the world's record in Branson, Mo.

After two minutes, he had gone through another dozen. Only twice did any of the books give Charon a problem. He paused slightly on the 32nd phone book and again on the 34th before splitting each in half.

He'd almost finished ripping the 40th volume when time expired and the audience erupted in applause.

"Oh, I wanted 40," Charon said. "I wonder how long 39 will stand up."

Charon lost his title in late 2002, when Mike West, a fitness and judo instructor from Indiana, ripped through 30 phone books.

The retired pastor of Umpqua Trinity Fellowship (search) specifically chose the Portland directory, which includes listings for Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. The paper used in those phone books seems a little thinner than those in other directories, he said.

"Of all the phone books I've torn, I've found that the Portland ones tear better," Charon said.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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