Grand Theft Fire Truck

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A drunk Northern California man stole a fire truck right out of its firehouse — then used its radio to call for a tow truck when he ran it off the road.

"I could probably get on that show, 'World's Dumbest Criminals,'" Claud Gipson-Reynolds, 36, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I was pretty intoxicated at the time. My thinking was not the best."

Gipson-Reynolds told the paper that following a fight with his wife, he'd been drinking for two days straight on Friday when his 1983 Chevrolet broke down.

He found himself stuck on a muddy, one-lane road in the hills between Sonoma (search) and Napa (search) counties about 40 miles north of San Francisco.

So Gipson-Reynolds wandered into the nearby Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Station, hoping to find a phone. In fact, he broke in.

"It wasn't wide open, but the garage door was not very secure," he explained.

There wasn't a phone. So, spotting a small fire truck — police said it was a four-wheel drive vehicle with ladders, water and firefighting equipment — he got behind the wheel and drove it right through the firehouse door.

Gipson-Reynolds said he reasoned he could use the truck to pull his car out of the mud, then drive to a pay phone to call a tow truck.

"Unfortunately, I drove the fire truck off the road about 20 feet from my car," he told the Chronicle.

So, availing himself of the resources at hand, he got on the truck's radio to call for a tow truck.

Instead of a friendly AAA man, officers from the California Highway Patrol (search) showed up, along with some firefighters looking to get their truck back.

They reported that Gipson-Reynolds' Chevy was full of beer bottles — and Narcotics Anonymous leaflets.

"I've been in the fire service 43 years," Mayacamas Fire Chief Gene Reed told the newspaper. "This is the first time I've ever heard of anything like this."

But he said he was glad no one was hurt, despite the smashed firehouse garage door and some damage to the truck.

"I'm not too angry," Reed said. "I'm more amused."

Gipson-Reynolds was arrested and charged with vehicle theft and drunken driving. He bailed himself out after a night in jail and admitted he needs to attend more 12-step meetings.

"If you think you might have a problem with drinking and drugs," he told the Chronicle, "you should seek recovery before you hit the point of no return."

— Thanks to Out There reader Brad B.

Trouble on Wheels

WASHINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A woman faces theft charges for allegedly carting away a senior center's lawn furniture, one piece at a time, by balancing it atop her motorized wheelchair.

Jo Jean Kelly, 52, faces two counts of theft and one count of criminal conversion in the theft of the wicker furniture from Senior and Family Services, Inc., Washington Police Chief Mike Healy said Oct. 28.

"Not too many people in wheelchairs steal stuff," he said. "I guess it takes all types."

A witness called police after seeing someone in a motorized wheelchair moving the furniture about 4:15 a.m. Oct. 26 in Washington, about 45 miles northeast of Evansville.

Washington Police Capt. Don Williams said it appears Kelly made several trips between the senior center and her home two blocks away, balancing the furniture on her knees.

The furniture has been returned to the senior center.

Kelly has not yet been arrested, Williams said. There was no telephone listing for Kelly in the city of Washington.

— Thanks to Out There reader Melissa M.

Computer Geeks Hold Funerals for Outdated Software

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Among the tiny graves on Blocker Hill, the wind echoes with the tortured cries of computer programmers.

Beneath the eight grave markers, and perhaps in a rumored unmarked grave nearby, lie reams of paper printouts of code for software that has left this mortal operating system.

The cemetery is a quirky tradition among the programmers at LexisNexis (search), which provides online legal and business information.

Rather than simply delete programs that are retired or replaced, they print them out for a proper send-off — not always with fond regards.

"The code wakes us up in the middle of the night," said Doug Perseghetti, who recalls the many times his fellow systems engineers and technical support workers are called in the middle of the night to fix system problems.

The name Blocker Hill was picked because the outdated equipment and code represented roadblocks to the company's future.

"Some things die gracefully and other things we've had to kill," Perseghetti said. He said workers had to "drive a stake" through the heart of a poorly performing program named CCI, which received an ignominious burial beneath an emblem of a pig.

In 1992, up to 50 mourners followed pallbearers carrying a wooden coffin with a printout of the former Database Update Control System as a trumpeter played "Taps," project consultant Alice Kaltenmark said. Eulogies were said and chocolate cake served.

Cupcakes Forbidden at Connecticut School

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — Cupcakes became contraband at Meadowside elementary school, after Principal Robert Davis banned all celebratory sweets — a move that has made some parents sour.

Health officials said Davis adopted a new policy of using games and crafts instead of baked goods to celebrate birthdays, holidays and special occasions, and praised it as a way to combat childhood obesity.

Parent Jack Fowler said no one should dictate what students can bring to school for special events. He said health and school officials have turned into the "fat police," in an attempt to rid schools of foods children enjoy.

Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. said as a parent he can understand health and school officials' concern regarding food allergies and childhood obesity, but cupcakes should remain.

Doughnuts Versus Ice Cream

BELSANO, Pa. (AP) — Forget "Kramer vs. Kramer." A legal fight brewing between doughnut maker Krispy Kreme and a seasonal ice cream stand could be called "Kreme vs. Kream."

Jack and Christine Hoover have run the Krispy Kream stand in Cambria County's Blacklick Township since 1968, keeping the name that had been in use since the stand opened in 1961.

Recently, the Hoovers received a letter from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (search) complaining of trademark infringement and indicating that more "formal steps" would be taken if they don't stop using their name.

The Winston-Salem, N.C., based Krispy Kreme registered its name in 1951.

The Hoovers have hired a lawyer hoping to lick the doughnut company, but they worry that Krispy Kreme's dough may prevail.

"We're well known for our ice cream, and we have a large sign in the front picturing a boy holding an ice cream cone, not a doughnut," Jack Hoover said. Krispy Kream doesn't sell doughnuts.

The Hoovers say customers might think the ownership of the stand has changed if they have to change the name.

Krispy Kreme, however, said that's not the company's problem.

"Unfortunately, this business is using a fully protected trademark, and we have to protect it," spokeswoman Amy Hughes said. "It can create confusion."

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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