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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes


Scaring the crows

A small group of Rochester, Minn., municipal employees have been tasked with stopping an invasion. Armed with lasers, starter pistols, and bird calls, the Crow Patrol stands between a massive flock of crows and downtown Rochester. By December, the patrol had pinned the flock in the treetops of Oakwood Cemetery just north of downtown. In winters past, crows have flocked to Rochester and slicked her streets with their waste. With a $40,000 price tag every year, the city sends employees to gather tools and head out at dusk nightly to train the birds to stay out of downtown by annoying them with alarms and lasers. “All together it’s just funny,” said local filmmaker Tyler Aug, who is making a documentary about the birds. “It’s all about curb appeal.”



Dan Hill (ABC 4)

Late-night lock-in

It could have been the longest workout of his life. Utah resident Dan Hill said he was surprised when workers at a 24 Hour Fitness gym locked the doors at midnight on Jan. 11. “I am literally locked inside 24 Hour Fitness right now,” Hill posted on his Facebook page. “They closed the doors and went home while I was swimming my laps in the pool. Doesn’t the name suggest that they stay open 24 hours?” Apparently not. According to a statement by the fitness chain, some locations close between midnight and 4 a.m. Hill told KTVX he called his wife—who told him to take a nap. He also phoned police, and officers arrived more than an hour later to unlock the facility.




Breaking and entering and sleeping

Police in suburban Atlanta are looking for a burglar so bold as to take a nap during a break-in. Surveillance footage from a Gwinnett County, Ga., Taco Bell from just after midnight on Christmas morning showed a man breaking into the restaurant, using fryers to make a meal, and then eating it. The footage later shows the burglar taking a nap on the floor for three hours before stealing a laptop and tablet device and departing. Based on his familiarity with the kitchen equipment, police believe the burglar was a former employee.

Carlton Brewhouse

Carlton Brewhouse

Drink on delivery

Cut off from civilization by devastating brush fires, Mallacoota, Australia, received a cache of relief supplies on Jan. 9. HMAS Choules delivered food and water to the besieged community—and also nearly 800 gallons of beer. Melbourne-based Carlton & United Breweries organized the beer run after reports that the pub in the community of 1,000 was running low on suds. “After what Mallacoota residents and firefighters have been through the least we would do is make sure they could enjoy a beer,” CEO Peter Filipovic told CNN.


Venture Photographers

Wolf Cukier (Venture Photographers)

Early discovery

Three days into a summer internship with NASA, 17-year-old Wolf Cukier did what many NASA scientists spend a career trying to do: He found a new planet. The Scarsdale, N.Y., student discovered the planet—which orbits two stars—last summer, during his internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Cukier had been tasked with looking over images collected from the agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. NASA announced the discovery on Jan. 6.



Nelson Search and Rescue

Nelson Search and Rescue

Survival of the studious

A pair of 16-year-old students had a pretty good excuse when they returned to school without their homework. In order to survive, the boys burned it. The pair became lost while snowboarding at the Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, British Columbia, on Jan. 5. Worsening weather forced rescuers to call off the search until the next morning. According to a Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman, the boys survived the frigid night by making a shelter and sparking a fire by using as kindling the homework one teen brought in his backpack. Rescuers discovered the teens on Jan. 6 without injury.

Getty Images

Getty Images

A slimy situation

Officials in the Welsh town of Wrexham have found the culprits who broke into a control panel and sabotaged a set of traffic lights. City officials, while investigating why the lights at a pedestrian crossing had failed, discovered evidence that slugs had oozed their way into the control panel and shorted out the electrical power supply in December. Without a ready spare part, Wrexham councilor Marc Jones said, the repairs could only be completed after delivery of a new part. In 2016, mollusks broke another set of traffic signals near Manchester, U.K.




A cry for help?

On Dec. 29, officers responded to a Lake Worth Beach, Fla., home after a neighbor said she heard a woman screaming, “Help, help, let me out.” When four Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies approached the homeowner, he said, “I’ll bring the screamer out to you.” After a few seconds, the man returned with his 40-year-old green parrot named Rambo who serenaded the officers. “We all had a good laugh,” the owner says. He also introduced Rambo to the neighbor: “She too had a good laugh.”