NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Bits and bytes of the bizarre, strange and downright weird gathered from around the web…so you don’t have to. Yer Welcome.

Grin and Bear It?

Despite all the advances in security technology for cars, car theft is a persistent problem. In 2020, over 800,000 vehicles were stolen in the United States — and millions more around the world. Earlier this year, in England, there was a bizarre auto theft incident. The police arrested a car thief after they found him hiding in a giant teddy bear.

Car thief and teddy bear | Bastian Pudill and Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash

On May 21, Joshua Dobson, an 18-year-old man from Rochdale, a town in Greater Manchester, England, did his own version of Grand Theft Auto. He stole a Mitsubishi ASX crossover SUV. However, it wasn’t the car theft that put Dobson on the radar of police

On the same day that he stole the Mitsubishi ASX, Dobson didn’t pay for gas after fueling up the crossover SUV. After being alerted to this, the police searched for Dobson in an attempt to question him about failing to pay for fuel. 

Teddy bear hiding spot for car thief | Greater Manchester Police

As the Greater Manchester Police searched for him, Dobson headed inside an unknown address. Upon seeing a giant teddy bear, he cut open a hole and managed to squeeze himself into the plush doll. 

However, his teddy bear escape didn’t work out as he hoped, as reported by Mirror. While the police searched through the address, they heard the teddy bear “breathing.” After discovering the car thief, they arrested him. 

In a recent Facebook post, the Greater Manchester Police detailed the incident — with a dose of some “teddy bear” humor:

“A wanted car thief who tried using a teddy bear to hide from our neighborhood cops out looking for him last month has been put behind bars for nine months.”

“Joshua Dobson (18), from the Spotland area of the town, was sought by us after stealing a car in May and not paying for fuel that same day.”

“When we went to arrest him, our officers noticed a large bear breathing in the address before finding Dobson hidden inside!”

“He’s now stuffed behind bars after being sentenced last week for theft of a motor vehicle, driving while disqualified, and making off from a petrol station without payment.”

“Hopefully, he has a bearable time inside…”

Car Thief Arrested After Found Hiding in Giant Teddy Bear (motorbiscuit.com)

Tesla Opens Real Swimming Pool At Supercharger Station

Tesla has certainly made for some weird news over the years, and CEO Elon Musk has been known to have some crazy ideas. However, when we first saw posts on social media suggesting that the automaker actually opened a makeshift pool at a Tesla Supercharger station, we weren’t so sure we should believe it.

You’ve probably seen posts about Tesla making a smartphone or joining forces with Apple, along with other fabricated stories that aren’t true. When it comes to Tesla news, you have to look very carefully at the source, their potential intentions, and the message itself. It’s important to do some digging and make sure the Tesla “news” you’re reading about is actually true.

With that said, Tesla really did put up a swimming pool at a Supercharger station in Germany. CEO Elon Musk has talked about adding an amusement park at Tesla’s factories, turning Supercharger stations into old-fashioned drive-in theaters, and more. However, a makeshift pool at a Supercharger station is a bit wild, since very few people are going to come prepared with a bathing suit and be willing to get drenched before getting back on the road.

As you can see from the video above, the pool actually does exist at Tesla’s Supercharger station in Hilden, Germany, which is the largest in the country, with 40 stalls, solar panels, and restaurants. As Tesla comes up with new ideas for features and amenities for future Superchargers, it seems it may be testing out the swimming pool concept during this hot summer. Or, perhaps the company and its employees simply set out to have a little fun.

Tesla Opens Real Swimming Pool At Supercharger Station (insideevs.com)

Nananananana Batman!

Riddle me this, Batman: When a custom car shop in Indiana does not deliver a Batmobile replica to a customer, why would a California sheriff send four deputies cross-country to arrest the shop’s owner, jail him and freeze his assets? 

The answer: The guy who ordered the Batmobile is apparently a friend of the sheriff.

The district attorney and board of supervisors in San Mateo County had to solve this riddle recently when it was revealed that Sheriff Carlos Bolanos had sent deputies to a shop called Fiberglass Freaks in Logansport, Indiana, which is licensed by DC Comics to build replicas of the George Barris Batmobile from the 1960s Adam West TV show. As reported by San Francisco’s KGO ABC7 and spotted by The Drive, San Mateo real-estate agent Sam Anagnostou ordered himself up one of these $210,000 crime-fighting machines. (Considering the sweet 23-window VW bus Anagnostou is using in a real estate promotional video, he has an eye for the finer things.) But he managed to forfeit his place in the line for Batmobiles. And yes, there’s a line for Batmobiles.

Mark Racop, who owns Fiberglass Freaks, said he has nine Batmobiles in production. He said Anagnostou was actually first in line, but he missed a $20,000 payment. “And he disappeared on me for over eight months, almost nine months,” Racop said. 

When Anagnostou didn’t get his Batmobile on time, the account goes, Bolanos sent four deputies to Indiana, more than 2,000 miles beyond his Gotham City on the Bay. They were traveling on the taxpayers’ dime — “four round-trip plane tickets, three nights of hotels, meals, rental cars, and a lot of overtime,” ABC7 said. There, they arrested Racop on California felony charges and briefly threw him in an Indiana jail.

Did Anagnostou flake? Did Racop fail to deliver? Who knows, who cares. The real question is why would the sheriff get involved, and that’s the riddle that ABC7 solved. The station says Anagnostou first filed a lawsuit, which was dismissed, then tried to interest police in Indiana to no avail, which is no surprise as it sounds like a civil matter. That’s when Anagnostou turned his Bat-Signal in the direction of Bolanos, whom the station says was his friend. Or as the lede on the ABC7 story says, “Holy political favors, Batman!”

The sheriff obtained search warrants in San Mateo, yet the district attorney says he didn’t realize the raid would happen in Indiana and said he didn’t approve it. Now it sounds like the D.A. is going to dismiss the charges.

So Anagnostou is without wheels. And Racop could be off the hook, just as Batman and Robin wriggled off so many hooks over so many pots of boiling oil.

And where does that leave Sheriff Bolanos? Out of a job. Even before all this, he had lost a June primary election to a captain in his department. He was a lame duck when the Batmobile quest happened in July.

Sheriff sends deputies on Batmobile arrest errand for a friend | Autoblog

About your average sized Toronto condo….

Cars are complicated. A seemingly simple problem can stump even experienced mechanics, and the costs can add up quickly for the vehicle owner. Mechanical issues, damage from collisions and accidents, and replacing worn items like tires are all common and expected parts of owning cars. What isn’t expected, however, are rodents, which can cause big-dollar problems under the hood of your vehicle (as they once did with Autoblog’s long-term Hyundai Palisade).

The New York Times reported that a surprising number of people in the city are experiencing major car problems from rats and other rodents. The animals nest under their hoods and chew wires, leave debris and other items, and make a mess.

The number of reported rat sightings skyrocketed between 2020 and 2021. Michael H. Parsons, a Fordham University research scholar, told the New York Times that restaurants shutting down and the subsequent proliferation of outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in the shift. Without dumpsters full of fresh restaurant food, rats have been forced to move to other food sources, and outdoor dining has provided streetside meals to the hungry scavengers.

Couple that seismic shift in rats’ everyday lives with the fact that many cars have organic wiring insulation that smells like food, and you start to see why there’s a problem. There is debate over whether organic materials like soy-based wiring insulation attract rodents. Still, the reality is that many people find their wires chewed in addition to evidence of rodents living in the engine bay.

Parsons believes improvements in “urban hygiene,” as he calls it, will help curb the rodent problem. Food scraps, trash, and other waste present a smorgasbord of aromas and tastes for animals of all types, so for a city the size of New York, the solution will require significant effort and investment.

While there are certainly more rats living in New York City than in smaller towns, like, say, Chillicothe, Ohio, people in other areas are just as susceptible to chewing and damage from rodents. Many vehicles from ToyotaKiaHyundai, and even luxury brands like Audi and BMW have soy-based wiring. Those that don’t are still at risk because wild animals of all types are attracted to warm, safe spaces, which is precisely what an engine compartment feels like after living on the street.

If you’re experiencing an infestation, you don’t have to burn down your car, despite the temptation. One of the best ways to prevent chewing is to spray the wires with a bitter apple or another deterrent. The smell and awful taste should keep teeth off your wires, but you’ll need to reapply periodically to retain effectiveness. You could also try an under-hood rodent repeller, like this device that uses LED lights and ultrasound to deter pests. You can also place traps or park your car in a garage away from areas where rodents roam.

Rats are making homes under car hoods in increasing numbers | Autoblog

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