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Best of The Blotter 2007

A look back at the year's dumbest local crimes and criminals

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Welcome to the 2nd Annual Best of The Blotter. Most of you know what The Blotter is, but for those of you who don't, it's Creative Loafing's weekly account of the most unusual and bizarre crimes in Charlotte pulled straight from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police reports. Basically, this stuff is so crazy that it can't be made up.

From stories of scorned lovers to brawling co-workers to violent threats to random acts of foolishness ... you'll find it all here. Yep, it's all real and happening to your neighbors -- or, in most cases, because of your neighbors.

If you believe that people in Charlotte are crazy, reading The Blotter will only give you more evidence for your case. In fact, it might have you thinking that the people in charge of the city's water supply should crumple up prozac and dump it in our drinking water.

So that guy who lives across the street who you suspect is burying bodies in his back yard ... he probably is, and you just might read about it in The Blotter next week.

I'm going to let you marinate on that.

FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT

FRESH PRINCE: A man was taking out the trash by his church when he heard a semi-automatic weapon being racked, followed by commands to stop and surrender all his money. The mugger took the keys to the man's Cadillac and told him to get in the trunk because he was being uncooperative. The man asked if that was really necessary since he had already given up his wallet and keys and the reasonable mugger obliged him, saying he could ride in the front. The mugger dropped the man off a mile from where he was abducted and told him not to walk too far. One more thing: the man asked his gun-toting kidnapper would it be too much trouble to get his wallet back. There was nothing of value to the robber anyway. Again, the thief obliged, but unfortunately he couldn't hand over the actual wallet because his fingerprints were on it. The victim told the police afterwards that his abductor bore an uncanny resemblance to the actor/rapper Will Smith.

JESUS IS HOT: Baby Jesus, the most popular nativity scene figure, was stolen from a man's front yard. According to the victim, this is the fourth time he's had a baby Jesus stolen. In an unrelated incident, the Grinch made his first appearance of the holiday season: An unknown suspect (most likely green) broke into a person's home, opened all the presents under the tree and stole some of the items within.

GRAND THEFT SEX: The sex wasn't good enough for a local woman. Her partner reported that after doing the nasty, his lady friend left and stole his car.

FINDER'S KEEPERS: A visitor at someone's home asked to use the restroom but did not really need to go. Instead he went into the victim's room and stole $9,000 out of the garbage can. Trash raiding, no matter how lucrative, is not really a crime.

MARMOT MATHEMATICS: A ferret owner let another person borrow his ferret cage, but when he asked for it back, the woman refused to return it. The victim discovered the ferret cage borrower had given the cage to a third, unrelated ferret owner. Lost in all this business are the homeless ferrets caught in between.

ALL KIDDING ASIDE: A guy put the $240 he received from a friend on a counter, when a woman picked it up. The guy thought the woman was kidding and would give it back. He was wrong.

WITH FAMILY LIKE THIS: An elderly woman reported that someone "within her family" stole her purse, which contained her wedding rings, $175 cash and various credit cards. The suspected thief eventually returned the stolen purse, but the cash and jewelry were missing. The woman eventually found her $4,000 rings -- at a pawnshop.

STOLEN GRASS: A funeral home staffer reported that 61 grass plants were dug up and stolen from the funeral home's lawn.

BLAME IT ON THE FAT GIRL: A woman told police her neighbor stole a green couch cover from her clothesline. She knocked on the neighbor's door, and she saw the neighbor inside wrapped up in the couch cover. The neighbor would only say, "I don't know," and "That big girl over there took my clothes off the line." The neighbor offered to wash the couch cover and give it back. It wasn't the first time this woman's clothing was stolen off the clothesline.

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE: A man was arrested at a Johnston Road grocery store after police were told he attempted to steal a Valentine's Day card, a pack of Orbit spearmint gum, a paring knife and a $6.95 box of Lifestyles condoms.

FISHING FOR TIPS: An employee of an upscale south Charlotte seafood restaurant was arrested after receipts indicated he'd been over-charging customers for dinners and pocketing the extra cash. The employee also kept money from cash-paying customers and instead charged their tabs to other customers' credit cards.

TALK ABOUT A NIC FIT: A convenience store reported that someone entered the building during the night by breaking through the wall of an adjacent building. Did they steal any money? No, just two cartons of Newport King cigarettes (a $52 value) and about 45 White Owl blunts in assorted flavors (valued at $45).

BOOKED: A man was arrested because he tried to sneak a book out of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library in his pants. The title? Change or Die.

GRILLED OUT: A man told police that someone struck him in the face while he was going "to and from" his apartment and took $500, a 14-carat gold chain with a gold ring and his gold front teeth. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center for what appeared to be injuries on his face and ankle.

SIGN FROM ABOVE: So you want to steal a sign. There's a church nearby with a banner that reads, "Where Jesus Christ reigns forever and evermore." You think, "That would look great in my bedroom." (Well, maybe not you, but somebody took it.) The police report notes without explanation that the sign valued at $185 may have violated the city sign ordinance.

BEAUTY ISN'T FREE: A woman stole a $5.99 bottle of Oil of Olay lotion from a drugstore. She was arrested for larceny outside the business.

CRASH AND BURN: Instead of stealing a car or another easy-to-maneuver vehicle, a suspect entered a construction site on Archdale Drive and stole a huge piece of construction equipment to go on a joy ride. Not knowing how to operate the machine, the man immediately crashed, causing damage to other vehicles.

DRINKS & DRUGS

CRACK IS YUMMY: A man standing on the corner of Wesley Heights Way and Walnut Avenue was searched on a suspicion he was selling drugs. Upon searching, police discovered a crack rock the fellow was hiding in his mouth. The man proceeded to swallow the rock. He was arrested.

CRACKHEADS ANONYMOUS: A woman told police that she got a strange call from someone purporting to be a Charlotte-Mecklenburg cop. The caller said the woman's son had been arrested for possession of crack cocaine. The woman told the caller she'd just checked on her son, and he was sleeping. She checked again while the caller was on hold. When she returned to the phone, she asked if "this was some sort of joke." The caller hung up.

CRACKED UP: A 50-something year-old woman arrived home to find her boyfriend smoking a little crack. She asked him to leave because drugs aren't allowed in her apartment. He grabbed her by the neck, but she was able to get free, leave the residence and call 911.

THE BASTARDS: A man reported that not only had his tools been stolen, but the thief (or thieves) had the audacity to steal his beer -- even his Zima. Two cases of Zima and 10 cases of Coors Light are still missing. Police are currently working to determine what crime is worse: stealing Zima or admitting you have two cases of the beverage.

STEALING OFF-BRAND SODA: Two suspects stole four 12-packs of Heinekin and three 12-packs of Choice soda from a Park Road convenience store. After striking a woman in the mouth, they fled -- but not before causing $2,500 of damage to the store's car wash.

YOU MIGHT BE A DRUNK IF ... : You have to steal a Breathalyzer. A person's $70 Breathalyzer was stolen from his Volkswagen Jetta while it was parked outside a Freedom Drive club.

SNACKING WHILE INTOXICATED: Going to McDonald's while drunk? Happens to a lot of people. At 8 a.m.? Not so common. Going to a MickeyD's inside a Wal-Mart that you've been banned from and dropping a $600 pretzel machine to the floor early on a Friday morning? Really uncommon.

HARD DRINKING: A woman called police after someone entered her garage and took two wine coolers. She told an officer it must've been the guy she detained when he returned for his bicycle, which he'd left in front of her house.

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEERS: A woman was checking on the home of an acquaintance who was out of town when she noticed something strange. Four people were inside, eating and drinking beer. When they saw her, they fled out the back door.

IN-AND-OUT: Remember the days of drive-thru beer service? Ah, the golden ages. One local guy devised his own convenient booze delivery system. The man popped into an ABC store, grabbed a bottle of vodka while still in the doorway and ran out the way he came.

THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT: An officer reported to the scene of a car accident on Freedom Drive where he found a 35-year-old man unconscious in the driver's seat. The man was drunk, so the officer arrested him and charged him with DWI before taking him to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries. Once at the hospital, the medics found a firearm hidden in his pants. The officer discovered that the gun was stolen and once the man was cleared from the hospital, he took him to jail.

BEST THREATS

• Dr. Seuss is back, but this time he's switched from children's stories to the art of making threats. An early morning e-mailer sent the following threat at 6 a.m.: "I will kill him or them, then you." The e-mailer added, "and then I will kill myself."

• A woman received a phone call from a man who had just shattered the top of a glass table and smashed two flower pots on her porch. She was made aware of the damage via telephone from the destructor. He said: "I'm over here at your house tearing up your shit, bitch." As the police report indicates: "The victim arrived home to discover that the suspect had indeed done just that."

• A woman reported that her cable guy delivered a threat to her after they got in an argument. While still in her house he said, "Don't forget, I know where you live." The woman believes the threat is credible as the cable guy was acting very erratic.

• A woman told police that an unrelated person called her in the afternoon with this message: "I am going to kill you. I will leave you alone in a hole! You need to pack your things and move!"

• A man reported he received three threatening phone calls from an unknown person. "Are you white, you motherfucker?" The man asked who the caller was. "It's your mama." The caller said, "I'm going to cut your throat, you motherfucker," and "I'm going to kill you, you motherfucker." The calls were made from a private number.

• A woman reported that someone called her about 100 times within five months, at times threatening her. "I'll kill you and your baby." "I'll come over there and beat you up." "I can't hit you in the stomach, but I'll slap your face." "Bitch get your number changed if you don't want me to call your phone." "You've seen the way I blacked (some guy's) eye, I'll do the same to your baby."

• A 40-something woman reported receiving 50 phone calls within seven hours. The suspect said, "I'm gonna stick [a] gun in you tomorrow at school." The victim told the suspect not to call again, but the calls continued.

• A woman reported someone called her and said, "Come on over here so we can fight! I'm gonna kick your ass if you don't leave him alone!" The caller has also told the woman that she is going to call the Department of Social Services and have the woman's children taken away.

• A woman reported someone called her, saying, "Bitch, I'm going to kick her ass," and urging her to come to the door. The suspect then began kicking the door in.

• A man called a woman to demand his money or he would, "Be up there to shut the house down."

• A woman told another, "I am going to ride by your house and blow it up."

• A woman told police that someone called her more than 1,000 times within two weeks. The suspect said, "I'll show you I have a backbone." How did this suspect plan to do that? Well, the suspect repeatedly said, "I'm gonna choke you and slap you in front of your children." That's backbone.

• A man grew angry when his wife refused to pick him up at 2 a.m., so he tried to coax her in an unsurprisingly ineffective way. "I'll take a cab, and when I get back, I'll kill you!" he said.

• A woman reported that someone made 27 harassing phone calls in 45 minutes on a recent afternoon. His best line? "I'll drive this car through your truck." In a separate incident, someone called a woman to tell her, "I will come to Charlotte and kill you. I have a gun with your name written all over it. If I go to court, it will be for something real."

• One person offered an innovative incentive to someone behind on his bills. "It would be in your best interest to pay the last bill," he told the debtor. "If you don't, we will do something to the property so you won't have any grass."

• A man received the following threat at his place of work from two callers (possibly on an intimidation conference call). Suspect No. 1 said, "I'll put you out. I'll shoot you. I'll put you out." (Note the effective use of repetition.) Suspect No. 2 added, "I'm gonna shoot you in the head, and I'm not scared. I'm not no punk." In a separate incident, a man left the following message after his 15 calls were not answered: "I'll come down there and beat your ass worse this time like I did last time."

• Upset that his old lady friend would no longer have relations with him, a man made the following statements (Follow the conversational arc with his threats): "I'm calling the police because I think you are on drugs; I'm taking the kids; Oh you think you're gonna kill me?; You have no idea who you're dealing with: I'll call people and threaten them; They have no idea; I'll kill the guy." Then he kept repeating, "You think you can kill me." The woman advises she never threatened to kill the man and doesn't know why he's saying it.

RANDOM DUMB SH*T

THESE CLOTHES AREN'T NATURAL FIBERS: A SouthPark department store employee found a threatening note in the Ralph Lauren section at lunchtime. No arrest was made.

YOU CALLED THE COPS FOR THIS?: You know that's what this officer had to be thinking when writing this report: "I responded to the above address in reference to an assault. The (reporting person) stated that the listed suspect touched her buttocks while they were hugging."

GOOD CHARACTER, EH?: A man called a woman recently and said, "This is your neighbor from four doors down. I need to tell you what you've done wrong at night. I've seen you through your windows, and I have naked pictures of you, which could be really embarrassing if I sold them on the Internet. Do you want to do what I say so I won't put them on the Internet? If you have good character you will not tell anyone I've called."

DOMESTIC DISINFECTANT: A married couple began arguing about the husband staying out all night. The wife called the husband a coward. He stepped on her foot. The two began spitting on each other -- and then the husband sprayed Lysol in the wife's hair. As if that wasn't enough, he also took her cell phone and threatened to pawn all the items in their home. As he tried to take her son's game system, she lunged at him. He backhanded her.

AN E-POOP-DEMIC: A man told police an unknown person bent the lid on his mailbox and spread animal feces on his foot door. The door's paint was damaged.

HAND SIGNALS: A man standing in a downtown parking lot unzipped his pants and began masturbating between cars as a woman was getting into her car nearby. The suspect got near the front of the car and continued masturbating. He was last seen walking toward South Tryon Street.

AH, LOVE: A woman called police after she caught a suspicious man looking in her purse for money. The suspicious man? Her husband. She wound up with bruises and scratches.

STALKER OF THE YEAR: So you want to keep tabs on somebody. You open his mail, call his relatives, and follow him from home to work and around town. When he goes to the police station, do you continue stalking him? One person apparently thought so, circling the block around police headquarters seven times while the man was inside the station.

Blotter items are chosen from the files of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

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