This Toronto Office Burglar Left Behind a Valuable Clue—A Photocopy of His Own Face
...And more unbelievable news stories that prove that life is sometimes stranger than fiction!
In August 2019, Gary Samuel Lambe broke into a commercial property in Toronto. He wasn’t exactly discreet. Midway through the break-and-enter, the 54-year-old stopped to eat some food, leaving scraps behind. Then, he left an even bigger clue: he headed over to the office printer and made a photocopy of his face. Toronto police released a copy—featuring Lambe’s blurry visage and his white, wide-brimmed fedora—to the public, and the fugitive was identified when he was arrested on a separate matter later that month. The bright side: Lambe now has a much clearer portrait—his mugshot. —Erica Lenti
The dream was like something out of a spy thriller: 29-year-old Jenna Howell of San Diego, California, was running from some shady characters on a high-speed train, and her fiancé told her to hide her engagement ring—fast. Howell popped off the ring and swallowed it. She woke suddenly and, relieved that it was just a dream, quickly dozed off again. But the next morning she noticed her left hand was bare. After a trip to the ER and an X-ray to confirm that Howell really had downed the diamond in her sleep, doctors fished it out via endoscopy. Howell praised the ring’s designer for crafting “jewels so lovely you could eat them. But don’t—trust me.” —Suzannah Showler
Frog in your throat?
In June, one lucky bidder took home Sir Isaac Newton’s meditations on causes and cures for the common plague. The manuscript, which sold for $108,083, is believed to have been written shortly after Newton returned to Cambridge after nearly two years in self-quarantine to avoid the plague. The document is unlikely to be of much use during the current pandemic, however: it includes, among other things, a prescription for driving away disease with lozenges made from a mixture of toad vomit and powdered toad. —Suzannah Showler
On the Lam(bo)
When Trooper Rick Morgan pulled over an SUV going about 51 kilometres per hour and drifting across lanes on Highway 15 near Ogden, Utah, in May, he expected to find a driver who was either severely impaired or having a medical emergency. Instead, Morgan discovered a five-year-old boy perched on the edge of the driver’s seat, his feet barely reaching the pedals and his head just clearing the dashboard. The child, who had taken the keys to the family car while his teenage sister was napping and driven three kilometres across town before getting on the freeway, later told baffled officers that he was planning to make it to California and buy a Lamborghini. While he only had $3 in his wallet, he was, at least, driving in the right direction. —Suzannah Showler
These funny tweets about driving will make you laugh out loud.
I believe I can fly
On three occasions this past summer, Songshan Airport in downtown Taipei allowed 60 passengers the chance to check in, collect their boarding passes, clear security, wait at their gate and board a China Airlines Airbus. The plane’s destination? Nowhere. The groups were the lucky winners of a contest that let people role-play a day at the airport—satisfying their nostalgia for a time when air travel was still a fun and easy prospect. Once the passengers boarded, though, their trip came to an anticlimactic end. After being greeted by flight attendants, buckling up and sitting on the tarmac, fantasy travellers deplaned and went home. —Suzannah Showler
The snuggly duckling
In 2019, 33-year-old Betsy Ross was at the park in Visalia, California, with her family when they found a Muscovy duck’s nest. All the eggs were smashed except one, which Ross’s children begged her to save. On instinct, she popped it into her sports bra to keep it safe. After some research, Ross decided her best option was to leave the egg pressed against her body. She nestled it for more than 30 days, placing baggies of warm water on her chest to raise the incubation temperature. Eventually the duck began to peep, and after a difficult hatching, it survived. The bird bonded with Ross, so she fashioned a carrier for it out of a headband. But she’s since moved the duck to a farm. “He needed a place where he would be happy,” she says. —Suzannah Showler
Here’s another sweet story about a duck adoption during the pandemic.
All for one
A lone chair placed at a lone table in the middle of a Swedish field may just be the hottest reservation in the COVID-19 era of dining. Bord För En (Swedish for “table for one”), Linda Karlsson and Rasmus Persson’s restaurant in the Swedish village of Ransäter (pop. just over 100), serves just one diner per day, and the restaurant is already booked up through the summer, with a growing wait list. Patrons don’t even meet their server: a three-course vegetarian meal is sent to the table in a picnic basket via a 50-metre rope pulley—taking at least some of the social awkwardness out of eating alone. —Suzannah Showler
Not your average fish
New revelations from the fossil record show that somewhere between 40 and 55 million years ago, sabre-toothed anchovies swam the ocean, hunting with a mouth full of spiky bottom teeth and one massive, curved fang protruding from the upper jaw. These predator fish were up to a metre long—too large to fit on a pizza. In findings published in The Royal Society in May, scientists used CT scanners to examine fossil samples collected in Belgium and Pakistan in the last century. Though the sabre-toothed anchovy went extinct, the newly identified species shares a number of features with the plankton-feeding fish we know today. The scientific literature doesn’t determine whether the sabre-toothed anchovy would be as polarizing an ingredient on a pizza. —Suzannah Showler
Hole in one
Mary Ann Wakefield, 84, became the unlikely star of a University of Mississippi basketball game in February, when she was selected to participate in an entertainment break competition. The objective? To sink a putt the entire length of the basketball court in order to win a new sedan. Wakefield couldn’t see the ball once it rolled past the halfway line, but she heard the excited screams of the crowd when it hit the mark. No one was more surprised than Wakefield—she admitted that she’s always been great at driving the ball, but hopeless on the putting green. —Rebecca Philps
These hilarious golf jokes will have you giggling on the green!
Police on the Big Island, Hawaii, are searching for two men who allegedly stole $1,000 worth of fruit from an agricultural centre in the town of Hilo this past February. The thieves showed up around 9:15 p.m. and made off with 18 infamously smelly durian fruit. According to Captain Kenneth Quiocho of the Hawaii Police Department, fruit bandits aren’t unheard of: they typically sell the stolen bounty to distributors or at farmers’ markets. Still, the durian swiping strikes him as odd. “There’s no underground market for durian here… although I hear it tastes good, if you can get past the smell.” —Rebecca Philps
An overlooked painting called Portrait of a Young Woman hung in the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania for decades. The painting was thought to be the work of an unknown artist in Dutch master Rembrandt’s workshop. Then, two years ago, it was sent to New York University for conservation and cleaning, where conservators realized that the painting was obscured by thick varnish. Using X-ray, infrared and electron microscopy to reveal the brushwork, conservators noticed the strokes were consistent with the Dutch master’s work. Outside experts later confirmed it was an authentic Rembrandt. The Allentown Art Museum vault is now potentially worth tens of millions more—all because the suspected student became the literal master. —Rebecca Philps
Check out these unsolved mysteries of the art world!
Work(out) from home
Restaurant server Elisha Nochomovitz of Balma, France, intended to compete in the Barcelona marathon on March 15, 2020, but COVID-19 disrupted his plans. He decided he would run anyway—42 kilometres back and forth on his 23-foot balcony. The journey took six hours and 48 minutes—significantly slower than his three-and-a-half-hour marathon best. Nevertheless, he shared the feat on social media and inspired house-bound runners around the world to take to their stairs, gardens or balconies to stay in top form. —Rebecca Philps
Here’s what happens when you start walking 10,000 steps a day.
Stephen Mills, a machinist and welder from Fort McMurray, Alberta, unwittingly solved a decades-old mystery when he visited Alberta’s Vermilion Heritage Museum last May. In the basement sat a 2,000-pound sealed safe, which had been donated in the 1990s. Everyone from professional locksmiths to the safe manufacturer had unsuccessfully tried to crack the combo. After a tour guide told him the tale, Mills jokingly spun the dial in a random combination: 20-40-60, three times right, two times left, one time right. To everyone’s surprise, the door creaked open. Sadly, there were no gold bars or precious jewels inside—just a few papers from a waitress’s order book dated 1977, and a pay sheet for around $9.95 from 1978. Solving the 40-year mystery, though, was priceless. —Rebecca Philps
In late January, 50-year-old Robert Shull Goddard smashed the glass on the back door of a Nashville home and stole a television and firearm but accidentally left behind incriminating evidence. City police arrested the orderly burglar after he dropped a notebook full of identifying clues. The journal contained a list of other targets—including the address of a house a few miles away that was robbed that same day. It also featured a note from his daughter—as well as her home address. Goddard was convicted of aggravated burglary in late March and sentenced to 12 years in prison, proving crime can sometimes be a little too organized. —Rebecca Philps
Have laugh at these hilarious lawyer jokes.
Bed on arrival
Quality sleep is important, and investing in a good mattress can help. But in 2016, New Yorker Karan Bir recognized a potential loophole—mattress returns. For over a year, he slept on a rotating series of free trial mattresses, sourced from online companies with money-back guarantees. Bir realized he could hack the system by simply returning his purchases within 100 days. By the time he bid a bed adieu, he’d ordered another to take its place. Enough brands offered refunds that he could go years without actually paying for one. He gave up after he moved to an elevator-less building, however—lugging a mattress up or down several flights of stairs each time wasn’t something he was willing to lose sleep over. —Alex Manley
These funny sleep jokes will leave you chuckling in bed.
Wolf Cukier, a 17-year-old high school student from New York state interning at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, went far beyond his summer job description when he helped discover evidence of a new planet. Even more impressive? He did it only a few days into the job, when he noticed a pattern in NASA’s data on light coming from two faraway suns. The pattern suggested an object moving in front of them. The object turned out to be TOI 1338 b, a gas giant similar in size to Saturn, located about 13,000 light years away from the earth. —Alex Manley
Check out the best places for stargazing across Canada.
United States Customs and Border Protection staff near the southern U.S. border are coming up against an unlikely foe: a flock of vultures. Legislation that forbids the killing of these migratory birds means the vultures roost where they see fit. But their excretions—including the birds’ corrosive vomit—seem to have damaged a Texas radio tower. Online commenters claim the birds are protesting the mistreatment of many migrants detained at the U.S. border. Whatever their motivation, the vultures sure know how to make a stink. —Alex Manley
Barry and Hellynne Lee, both in their 70s, were charged with assault in June 2018. The Welsh couple’s crime? Spraying their neighbour, Harold Burrows, with a garden hose over their shared fence. The neighbours had been squabbling for years, but things escalated one day while the Lees hosed down their driveway. When Burrows confronted the Lees about yard waste the stream was pushing onto his lot, they turned up the drama—and turned their hose on him. Burrows, who recorded his surprise shower, later presented the footage as evidence to a judge. The court imposed a two-year restraining order, and the Lees have decided to look for a new place to live. Hopefully, with some time and space, the debacle will just be water under the fence! —Megan Murphy
Would you believe wind chimes turned these neighbours into enemies?
What would you do if you stumbled upon a bag of money on the street? That’s what’s happened at least 13 times in the last six years to citizens in Blackhall Colliery, England. Someone was leaving bags of £2,000 in cash around town. Most remarkably, honest citizens kept turning in the bounty. After two weeks, if the money wasn’t claimed, the person who found the money got to keep it. In January, police learned that a pair of good Samaritans were leaving the mystery cash. The duo, who wanted to remain anonymous, were doing so as a way to “give back” to vulnerable people in the community. So, for all of the 13 citizens who became £2,000 richer, honesty really did pay off. —Megan Murphy
Here are more acts of kindness that will bring a smile to your face.
Most boring show ever
If you’re visiting Fukuoka, Japan, on a budget, there’s a hotel that has you covered: you can stay for a paltry 100 yen a night (about $1.20 Canadian). The catch? Visitors must agree to let the hotel live-stream their stay on its YouTube channel. So far, more than half a million viewers have tuned in to watch strangers sip tea, read and, once, watch a guest attempt to play Twister by himself. (Don’t worry, the bathroom is private!) —Megan Murphy
It seemed like the animal kingdom had it in for Pittsburgh’s Chris and Holly Persic. An hour after Chris’s vehicle broke down last October, his wife called to report a burning smell was coming from her own car’s engine. When she popped the hood, she found it filled with walnuts—more than 200 in total. An enterprising neighbourhood squirrel squad had been storing nuts for the winter. They had chewed through a wire in Chris’s truck for good measure. While Chris eventually repaired his wire, Holly got to temporarily enjoy the scent of roasting nuts. —Rosie Long Decter
Read up on more strange things mechanics have found in cars.
In deep water
When the Kankakee, Illinois, sheriff’s office posted a photo of 26-year-old Brandon Conti—wanted for a DUI—on their Facebook page the day before Halloween, they were hoping for tips on his whereabouts. Instead, they got a comment from Conti himself: “Appalled!” he wrote. “Where’s my costume?” The office responded by editing a sailor suit onto Conti’s mugshot, complete with a cap that read AHOY. “That’s awesome,” Conti commented the next day. “I’ll be there before noon.” Conti turned himself in and was released on bail later the same day—with enough time left to trick-or-treat. —Rosie Long Decter
These corny Halloween jokes are sure to crack a smile.
Asleep at the wheel
They say you need to make a strong first impression during a job interview. A young man applying at a Subway restaurant in Redmond, Oregon, did just that when his mother literally crashed his interview last October. While her son was inside talking to the manager, the mother dozed off in her car—and accidentally hit the gas pedal, sending the car through the establishment’s window. The crash happened just feet from where the interview was taking place. Thankfully there were no injuries—except maybe to the poor kid’s job prospects. —Rosie Long Decter
Don’t miss these funny tweets every parent can relate to.
Library staff in Derry, New Hampshire, weren’t sure what they’d find last April when they opened a safe that had been left untouched for years. Rumour had it a 50-year-old time capsule might be inside. But upon cracking the safe, they discovered it empty. News archives revealed a second surprise: the capsule may have never been in the safe in the first place—and instead got buried in an adjacent parkette. Library staff headed out with metal detectors in search of the missing capsule, but returned empty handed, leaving Derry waiting indefinitely on their blast from the past. —Erica Lenti
Sss-ayonara for now!
When the Sannella family’s pet snake, Monty, went missing last June, they were uncertain they’d be able to find him in the streets of Toronto. So, when animal services recovered a ball python nearby the following month, the Sannellas jumped at the chance to be reunited. Once the snake was home, however, they noticed his distinctive spots didn’t match their past photos. It was a case of “mis-snaken identity”—the imposter turned out to be another rogue python, lost to the city’s underbelly. Fortunately, Monty was found in the Sanella’s basement four months after his disappearance. But Torontonians are left to wonder: just how many pythons are still slithering through the city’s sewers? —Erica Lenti
After selling his RV and truck for nearly $23,000 in cash this past August, a man in Ashland, Oregon, placed his haul in a shoebox. The low-security solution was temporary—he planned to spend the cash on a new vehicle a few days later. Unfortunately, his wife didn’t get the memo and chucked the container in the recycling bin, then brought it to the curb. By the time the couple realized their mistake, the money had travelled to a recycling centre in California. After the facility received a panicked call explaining the situation, an employee spotted stacks of $20 bills moving along a conveyor belt and called the waste-management facility in Ashland to alert them that the cash had been recovered. —Gabrielle Drolet
Take a look back at the most expensive mistakes ever made.
Police officers in Volusia County, Florida, got a call they weren’t prepared for in August: a raccoon was stuck in a vending machine at a local high school. Students and staff spotted the critter behind the glass, looking guilty. Though the raccoon appeared happy in vertical-snack heaven, the vending machine was wheeled outside and propped open, and the masked bandit eventually emerged snack-free. Next time, it’ll need to bring change like the rest of us. —Gabrielle Drolet
In August, homeowners in Henrico, Virginia, woke to find that old televisions had been left on their porches in the night. The eerie delivery only got creepier when home security footage revealed that they’d been delivered by an ominous visitor: the figure sported a navy jumpsuit and gloves, and masked its face with what appeared to be an actual TV. Before leaving, it turned to the security cameras and waved. Police have collected 52 TVs but are still baffled as to what the motive might have been. Hopefully Henrico’s TV Santa brings flat screens next time. —Gabrielle Drolet
These DIY jokes will bring down the house!
A spicy discovery
When citizens of Aylesbury, England, found a large orange bird that was having trouble flying in early July, they thought they’d discovered an exotic creature in peril. Upon bringing it to a wildlife hospital, though, they found out it was the animal’s bold behaviour that had led to its bold colour: the distressed bird was a seagull that had managed to get itself covered in curry. Seagulls are inquisitive by nature and are known to put themselves in similarly spicy situations. Thankfully, a couple of baths returned it to its naturally unseasoned state. —Erika Morris
Taking it offline
Phil Demers was surprised to find the police at his door when he came out of the shower on July 24. The evening before, he’d sent what he believed to be an innocuous tweet: “Life is short. Steal a Walrus.” But Demers’s tongue-in-cheek missive had prompted MarineLand Canada to call the cops. Demers, an employee-turned-whistleblower, had exposed the aquatic theme park’s animal cruelty in 2012. In 2013, he was slapped with a lawsuit (still ongoing) for allegedly plotting a walrus heist, a charge he has long denied. The officers left without incident, and Demers is still intent on “saving the walruses” without stealing them. —Erika Morris
If you think that’s strange, check out these funny lawsuit stories!
One evening in May, Nate Roman returned to his Marlborough, Massachusetts, home to find that his door was unlocked, and his house smelled different. Clean, in fact. Roman saw that his five-year-old son’s room had been meticulously tidied, with his stuffed animals lined up neatly on the bed. The other bedrooms and the bathrooms were similarly orderly. The mysterious organizer hadn’t stolen anything, which left Roman to speculate that this was the work of a housecleaner who happened to go to the wrong home on a day he’d left the door unlocked. His son, on the other hand, was just thrilled to have gotten out of cleaning his room that day. —Erika Morris
In March, a single mother in the Brazilian state of Goiás went to court to secure child-support payments from a deadbeat dad. In the end, she got twice what she bargained for. The child’s DNA matched that of a set of identical twins, each of whom denied being the father. The twins’ attempts to shirk responsibility were thwarted, however, when Judge Felipe Luis Peruca ordered that both men pay up and be listed as the youngster’s parent—giving her two dads for the price of one. —Alex Verman
Don’t miss this roundup of the funniest court cases of all time.
Up in flames
When committing a robbery, it pays to bring the right tools. That’s what a pair of Florida would-be thieves discovered after they bungled a heist in May. The duo were spotted on CCTV camera trying to use a blowtorch to destroy an ATM and get at the cash inside. Unfortunately, their tactics ended up enhancing security—the heat from the blowtorch welded the hinges shut, making it effectively impossible to open. The two ran off after their trial-and-error-by-fire, presumably to get a head start on their new ATM-security business. —Alex Verman
Think that was bad? Here are more of the world’s dumbest criminals!
Dine and dash
Calgary restaurant workers launched an online manhunt in June to find a serial dine-and-dasher. The culprit was hardly subtle: he frequently sported a robust moustache and a black cowboy hat. Using the alias Michael McDonald, Michael Gene Roderick Huppie would allegedly chat up the staff, give them roses and tell elaborate stories to earn their sympathy before running off. His charm, and his luck, ran out after victims posted his photo online. On June 28, a customer spotted the lonesome cowboy at a restaurant and tipped off the staff, who contacted the police. Huppie was charged with one count of “fraudulently obtaining food,” though many more restaurant workers chimed in on Twitter to accuse him of skipping out on bills at their establishments. Huppie was apprehended in full yee-haw regalia right at his table, his bill yet to be paid. —Alex Verman
Check out these hilarious examples of irony in real life.
Scrimp ‘n scheme
This past February, one Pittsburgh supermarket owner proved that a little saving here and there can really add up. Michael John Mihelic is accused of ordering employees at his Shop ’n Save locations to cut coupons out of unsold newspapers. Employees would then skim a corresponding amount of cash from the registers and hand over the coupons to Mihelic, who submitted them to manufacturers for credit. The pilfered profits eventually amounted to more than $306,500—a sum worth thinking about before you toss this week’s flyers. —Alex Verman
For some transit riders in Gloucester, England, the commute to work got more interesting in January. The city’s archaeologists confirmed suspicions that something more than dirt was sitting under a bus station: the remains of a 13th-century Carmelite monastery. According to historic maps and evidence from other local digs, the old monastery belonged to the Whitefriars monastic organization, who lived outside the city to avoid its “sinful” influence. Who knows what kind of sinning they might have gotten up to if they ever managed to catch a lift into town. —Alex Verman
Take a look at the strangest discoveries archaeologists have made.
If you’re over the age of 12 and head out door-knocking on Halloween in Chesapeake, Virginia, you could be in for more of a trick than a treat. Since 1970, the town has had a law that penalizes teenaged trick-or-treaters. Offenders could receive a fine of between $25 and $100—or even face jail time. Residents needn’t get too spooked: no one has ever been arrested under this law, which aims to deter teens from crime on Halloween. Still, after a viral parody video earned the policy bad press, the town said in March that it will revise the rule. Meanwhile, the true Halloween criminals continue to go free: the people who hand out raisins as candy. —Alex Verman
Find out 50 more crazy things that are banned in the U.S.
Fernando Lafuente was playing video games at home after work last November when he first heard reports of his death. The Dublin-based engineer and recreational soccer player got a call from his boss who was wondering how a dead man had just been at the office. His former team, Ballybrack FC, had been having difficulty recruiting players and decided to fabricate news of his passing to postpone an upcoming game. The tactic worked a little too well: support poured out over social media, and a local newspaper published an obituary. Thankfully, Lafuente prospered in his “resurrection,” even snagging a commercial deal with an Irish gambling company. —Nathaniel Basen
Psst—this is why North Americans say soccer instead of football.
Toil and trouble
Timmins, Ontario, resident Tiffany Butch became the final person to be charged under Canada’s anti-witchcraft laws last December—just days before the regulations were taken off the books. Butch, who considers herself a psychic, stands accused of accepting payment in exchange for using her spiritual powers to protect a client from danger. Butch says she’s innocent—and predicts winning her case. —Nathaniel Basen
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