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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Law/Police/Crime
Pray For Less Crime — Status: Stupidity in the news Just a week ago there was a town in Texas praying for rain. Before that we saw prayer as a treatment for cancer. Now a town in England is going to encourage local residents to pray for less crime. I'm sensing a trend: The Lincolnshire branch of the Christian Police Association is setting up a "Prayer Watch" scheme to alert Christians to local crimes. As well as encouraging worshippers to keep an eye out on their churches and each other, the police said the…
Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2006.   Comments (7)

Thief Plays Dead To Avoid Arrest — Status: Dumb criminal German police report an encounter with a master criminal who, when caught in the act of stealing a computer, tried the old "pretend you're dead" act to elude capture: The 51-year-old sneaked into a company in the town of Hildesheim late Monday and tried to make off with a computer when the owner discovered him and called the police. The man had fled into the boiler room, where they found him lying on the floor, police said in a statement. He had a pulse, but was…
Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2006.   Comments (3)

Mock Marijuana — Status: Unusual product Want some marijuana? Of course, here in America it's illegal to buy the real thing, but you can buy mock marijuana... lifelike marijuana plants made out of silk and wood. It would be a pretty cool conversation piece to have sitting in the corner, especially if the police ever show up unexpectedly. The mock marijuana is sold by New Image Plants, operated by pro-pot activist Joseph White. It's a small business. Most of his customers, ironically, are…
Posted: Mon Jul 24, 2006.   Comments (24)

Marauding Machete-Wielding Clowns — Status: Weird News (True) Big Gary forwarded me this news story about a "machete-wielding gang in angry clown make-up" who have been attacking people in Washington State. The article notes that the group call themselves "juggalos" and often shout "Woo, woo, juggalo!" to each other as they attack victims. The article concludes by noting: "Juggalos often dress in black and wear clown face paint." Big Gary wonders: "Does Seattle really have a subculture of people who call themselves…
Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2006.   Comments (31)


Nigeria Warns of British Conmen — Status: Strange News Nigerian travellers have been warned by their government to watch out for conmen while in Britain: Fraudsters in Britain might pour tomato juice or other substances on your dress and then offer to help remove it, robbing you in the process, the information ministry warned in its first-ever travel advisory obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The conmen, who are mainly white, but also include east Europeans and north Africans, might also pretend to pick up an object from…
Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006.   Comments (7)

Wild Goose Chase — Status: Weird News I'm not quite sure what's going on in this story, but it's not often that a wild goose chase literally happens, so I thought it was worth posting. Chris Kaye reports for KSL local news in Utah: Officers pulled over a car fitting the description of one allegedly used to swipe a goose from the Utah Botanical Gardens. Sergeant John Spencer says when he looked inside the vehicle, he found everyone inside was obeying traffic laws. "The goose was in the front seat and was…
Posted: Sat Jun 10, 2006.   Comments (3)

Real Body Found At Fake Crime Scene — Status: Strange but true Here's the scene: a high school criminology class on a field trip to the local park. Their teacher has created fake bodies for them to find. But wait a second. One of those bodies looks awfully real. The AP reports: Truth proved to be stranger than fiction for a high school criminology class investigating a fake crime scene after students discovered a real dead body on a field trip. Teacher Sue Messenger has been planting cardboard skeletons with bullet holes,…
Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006.   Comments (3)

Potato Used As Silencer — Status: Urban Legend The Miami Herald reports the case of a man who threatened to shoot the mother of his child with a gun silenced by a potato. He never fired the gun, but did explain to her how the potato would silence the shot, insuring that no one would hear what happened. The police had this to say about the man's knowledge of acoustics: The vegetable, while rich in carbs, does not make an effective silencer, police say. The myth dates back to mob murders of the 1920s and has…
Posted: Mon Jun 05, 2006.   Comments (18)

DVD-Sniffing Dogs — Status: Strange, but true The Press Association wire service is reporting that "Two black Labradors have become the world's first dogs to be trained to search for counterfeit DVDs." The two dogs, Lucky and Flo, were trained by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact). In their first assignment "Lucky and Flo were put to work at FedEx's UK hub at Stansted Airport in Essex where they immediately identified packages and parcels containing DVDs for destinations in the UK." Okay,…
Posted: Mon May 08, 2006.   Comments (6)

Perfect Shot: Bullet Lodges in Cylinder of Other Gun — Status: True It's not quite as miraculous as the (false) case of impregnation by bullet recorded in 1874, but it's still pretty remarkable. A bullet fired by a cop at an assailant ended up lodged in the assailant's gun. Not in the barrel of the gun, but in the cylinder. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:The officers ordered the man to drop the gun. Instead, police said, he squared up against them. "The officers returned fire in response to that deadly threat," Kimerer said. Both…
Posted: Thu May 04, 2006.   Comments (5)

Schapelle Corby Tours — Status: Hoax This is in pretty bad taste, but kind of funny nevertheless, in a twisted kind of way. A guy in Bali named Eddie Hutauruk claims to be offering guided tours that allow you to visit Schapelle Corby in her jail cell. (For those who don't recognize who Schapelle Corby is, she's the Australian woman who is currently serving a 20-year sentence for supposedly trying to import 4.1 kg of cannabis into Bali. The cannabis was found in her luggage. A lot of people think she's…
Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2006.   Comments (25)

A Meditation on the Speed Limit — Status: Civil Disobedience Prank In order to demonstrate the stupidity of the 55 mph speed limit, four Atlanta students pulled a dangerous stunt: they all drove exactly 55 mph on the highway, in a line, thereby blocking the flow of traffic and creating an enormous traffic jam. Check out the video of it. I realize the students thought they were doing something clever, but as I watched the video I found myself getting more and more angry at them. It was like experiencing road rage while…
Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006.   Comments (145)

Philippine Urban Legends (Jose Rizal was Jack the Ripper) — Status: urban legends An article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer records some Philippine urban legends: the "White Lady" of Balete Drive, Robina Gokongwei's "snake twin" lurking in department store dressing rooms, the elusive "kapre" that lives in an ancient mango tree near the Emilio Aguinaldo house in Kawit town, and Andres Bonifacio's love child from a place aptly named Libog (now Santo Domingo) in Albay province. None of those mean much to me. But most of the article is devoted…
Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006.   Comments (190)

Camera Unlost, But Not Quite Found — Status: True Earlier today I read (via blogdex) the tale of a woman named Judith and her camera that was lost, then found, but still (paradoxically) remains lost. I thought it was interesting, but didn't consider it might be a hoax. However, several people have emailed me about it, so I thought I'd take a closer look at it. Here's the jist of the tale. Judith lost her camera while on vacation in Hawaii. Back home she decided to create a photo blog of her vacation using pictures found…
Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2006.   Comments (14)

Topless Fish Saleswomen Legal in Liverpool — Status: Undetermined (though I'm assuming it's false, until proven otherwise) Some of you may have read this claim before: "Topless saleswomen are legal in Liverpool, England, but only in tropical fish stores." I hadn't heard it before until I happened upon it on the blog of Cavan Scott who is (rightly, I think) quite skeptical of it. He's emailed the Liverpool county council to get their opinion about it, but my guess is that he probably won't get a reply. (Though I decided to send…
Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2006.   Comments (38)

Carjacker Strategy: Place Paper On Your Rear Window — Status: Theoretically could happen (though there's no solid evidence it ever has) You may have received this email warning recently: Imagine: You walk across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. Then you lock all your doors, start the engine and shift into REVERSE. Habit! You look into the rear-view window to back out of your parking space and you notice a piece of paper, some sort of advertisement stuck to your rear window. So, you shift into PARK, unlock your doors and…
Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006.   Comments (25)

The Case of the Missing Violin — Status: False theft report A San Francisco woman has admitted to sending police on a wild goose chase to find a $175,000 violin that she claimed had been stolen from her car. She really does own such a violin, but it doesn't appear to have been missing. It's not clear why she said it was. Here are some details from the AP article: The sad tale of a San Francisco music student who had a $175,000 18th century violin swiped from her towed car was a fabrication, authorities confirmed…
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006.   Comments (9)

Man Given $15,000 Ring By Stranger — Status: Undetermined (reported in the news, but from an anonymous source) It sounds like an urban legend. At the end of a work day a commuter returns to his car parked at the train station in Westborough, Massachusetts, only to realize he had left it unlocked all day. Miraculously, the car is still there, despite the numerous thefts in that area. But someone has been in his car, and they've left something: a box with a white ribbon on it, placed on the front seat. Inside is a diamond…
Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2005.   Comments (6)

Student Visited By DHS Agents After Requesting Little Red Book at Library — Status: Hoax A news report has been doing the rounds concerning a student at UMass Dartmouth who was visited by Department of Homeland Security agents after ordering the official Peking version of Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book via interlibrary loan. The student needed the book for a research paper on communism, but apparently the book is on some kind of government watch list, and thus the visit. However, over at Boing Boing, suspicions have been raised that the story is a hoax.…
Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2005.   Comments (10)

The CSI Effect — Status: Fiction mistaken for reality I've included many definitions of hoax-related terms in Hippo Eats Dwarf. One of these terms is the CSI Effect. I define it as "The belief that all criminal cases are solved using the high-tech, forensic science seen on TV crime shows such as CSI. Lawyers have noticed that the lack of such high-tech evidence can seriously prejudice a jury against a prosecutor's case. A manifestation of the if-it's-not-like-what-we-see-on-TV-then-it-can't-be-real…
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005.   Comments (16)

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