Grand Theft Panic

Sometimes violent video games can be good for children.

Sandy Wilson of Santa Fe, Texas, near Galveston, was looking after her three grandsons this past March when four armed men burst into the home, reports KTRK-TV of Houston.

The robbers held the family at gunpoint — until they heard a loud voice saying "This is the police! You're surrounded!"

The cops weren't really outside. The boys had been playing Grand Theft Auto (search), a wildly popular and very violent Sony PlayStation2 (search) game in which the main character commits various crimes while being chased by police and other criminals.

Nevertheless, Wilson said, the four hoodlums fled and were quickly caught by the real police.

"The police in the game were saying, 'Stop, we have you surrounded. This is the police,'" Galveston County Asst. DA Michael Elliott explained in court at one gunman's trial. "The burglar, unknowingly, thought this was the actual police and panicked ... being apprehended by PlayStation."

"[We were] thinking that it was pretty funny," one of the boys, Chaze Fisher, told the TV station. "How they were, like, ran off, and they got all scared over a game."

One of the men was sentenced to five years in prison earlier this month, joining another gunman already serving four years. A third's trial is in January, while the fourth got probation.

— Thanks to Out There reader Greg M.

Don't Drop That, Honey

An Australian mother got a good scare last week — she found her toddler playing with a bomb.

Michelle Bates of Gargett, in central Queensland (search) state, had taken three of her children and two of a friend's for a swim on Bates' property last Tuesday.

"There was a bit of water in the gully and I had taken the kids down to have a bit of a splash," she told the Australian Associated Press.

About 100 feet from the house, Bates' son Liam picked up a strange-looking object about two feet long.

"I thought it was a bit suspicious and my friend said it was part of a pump," said Bates. "I said, 'I don't know about that.'"

First the two parents called the local museum. Then they called police.

The policeman who came by "freaked out" when he saw the object, Bates said.

"He wouldn't go within two meters [six feet] of it," she explained. "That made us freak out more — we had it inside the house."

It turned out to be a 3.5-inch anti-tank rocket of a type used by Australian and American forces in World War II.

The family quickly put the rocket back where they'd found it, then backed away until an army bomb squad removed it.

Army spokesman Mark Tanzer said the rocket was a dummy without explosives and would be used by the bomb squad for training purposes.

Never Too Late for Your First Tattoo

DUBOIS, Pa. (AP) — Ralph Bonebreak was born to be wild — in 1910.

The 94-year-old man recently got his first ink at the Tainted Flesh tattoo parlor in his hometown. Bonebreak emerged from under the needle with a locomotive on his right arm and an eagle on his left.

"Tattooing an older person is a bit more difficult because their skin is different and sometimes it comes away from the muscle a little," said Bob MacCready, a tattoo artist at Tainted Flesh.

Before Saturday, the oldest person MacCready had ever worked on was an 81-year-old patron.

A lot of men who went into the military got tattoos, but Bonebreak's 38-year career with the railroad kept him out of the service, said his friend, Eve Camuso.

"He's always wanted a tattoo, but back then the only place you could get one was at the county fair," Camuso said. "They weren't very clean."

Camuso and Bonebreak asked a doctor about medical complications before contacting MacCready.

Bonebreak selected a train to commemorate his time with the railroad. A belt buckle inspired his eagle design.

Bonebreak might have been nervous, but he didn't show it when he hopped in the chair.

"It's a new experience, so I'd say I was a little anxious," Bonebreak said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Greg M.

Huge Haul of Pot in Coffins

SALLISAW, Okla. (AP) — Talk about your killer weed.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers found 610 pounds of marijuana hidden in caskets being hauled in a truck stopped near this eastern Oklahoma town.

The driver, Timothy G. Hynd, 26, and his passenger, Robert Dean Harper, told a trooper they were working for a Tucson, Ariz., casket company and their destination was Atlanta.

They were pulled over early Friday for going 6 mph over the speed limit.

The marijuana was found after troopers were given permission to search the truck.

Hynd and Harper were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and were freed on bond Monday. Both men said they had no idea there was marijuana in their cargo.

"Hynd is 26 and has never been in any kind of trouble," said his attorney, Donn Baker. "He was just delivering caskets for a living. He didn't check inside the caskets for drugs — would you?"

Lassie Alive and Well in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A pet dog helped save a toddler from drowning in a rural reservoir, paramedics said Wednesday.

The 18-month-old toddler was pulled unconscious from the reservoir midday last Tuesday after the family's border collie (search) alerted the girl's mother to the emergency by running back and forth between the house and the reservoir barking, paramedic Greg Smith said.

The child's mother, whose name was not immediately released, resuscitated the girl while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

"The mother said the child and dog were inseparable and that raised the suspicion that something was wrong," Smith said

The girl was recovering in a stable condition at a local hospital in Bendigo, 112 miles northwest of the southern city of Melbourne.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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