Mon, Dec 25, 2006 - Page 1 News List

US hit by series of extraordinary Christmas crimes

AP , NEW YORK

There is nobody nice on this Christmas list: snowman stabbers, Grinch snatchers, wreath-robbing weasels.

'Tis the season for strange crimes by even stranger people, with police blotters expanding faster than a six-year-old's wish list of gifts.

David Allen Rodgers, 42, was arrested on Dec. 3 for driving while intoxicated -- at the wheel of a float during the annual Christmas parade in Anderson, South Carolina.

Witnesses said that Rodgers sped down the street in a float with 19 people aboard, ran a red light and led police on a 5km chase.

Police said that when Rodgers finally stopped, they found an open container of alcohol in his truck.

"I made a very bad judgment on my part," Rodgers said at a court hearing.

baby jesus missing

In Chicago, 32 plastic baby Jesus dolls were stolen from nativity scenes set up in people's front yards.

The kidnappers then lined up all the dolls along the fence outside a Chicago woman's home; she rounded them up and turned them over to her parish priest.

Similar creche crimes occurred in 35 US cities from Fayateville, North Carolina, to Mission Viejo, California, according to the Catholic League, which tracks nativity vandalism.

In Houghton, Michigan, somebody stole an inflatable Grinch from outside an apartment complex. That was just one instance in the area's rash of seasonal thievery. Two brown plastic reindeer, a baby Jesus statue and several wreaths were also stolen.

Frosty stabbed

In Ohio's Hamilton County, a pair of 18-year-olds were arrested for using screwdrivers to stab an inflatable 3.6m Frosty the Snowman.

The snowman had survived two previous stabbing attacks.

Two other local teens were arrested in an unrelated incident where they allegedly smashed a car with a large decorative candy cane, causing US$1,000 worth of damage.

An Oklahoma woman was arrested after she visited the Delaware County Jail with a Christmas card for her incarcerated boyfriend. Police said the card held marijuana, leading to Dawn Smith's arrest.

A real-life Grinch in Yonkers, New York, made off with US$14,000 in staff bonuses and money from the office safe during a Christmas party, police said. Daniel Rios, 38, spent US$7,500 in cash but returned about US$6,500 in checks, authorities said.

Santa kidnapping

And then there is the case of the Santa Claus kidnapping.

A motorcycle-riding Santa Claus with a stuffed Rudolph in his sidecar was arrested after allegedly grabbing an eight-year-old girl from outside a South Carolina convenience store.

John Michael Barton, 55, was in his Claus outfit filling his motorbike with gas when the girl's family stopped by the store.

The girl's father then saw Barton speeding off with her. After a high speed chase, Barton pulled over his motorcycle and turned over the girl, police said.

Also see story:
'Tis the season for giving — if others notice

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