The Dwarf in the Trunk

About four months ago (on June 3, 2007) this brief article appeared in the London Sunday Times:
Police moved swiftly to foil a child kidnapping when a witness spotted a boy being locked in a car boot. Officers set up road blocks, flagged down a Mercedes that fitted the description, and opened the boot -where they found mechanic Klaus "Shorty" Mueller, 27, who had climbed in to find the source of a rattling noise. A spokesman for police in Bremen, north Germany, said: "It seems the driver had been worried by inexplicable rattling noises in or near his boot. He called a mechanic, who was very small, and who climbed in the boot to get to the bottom of the problem."

Similar versions of the article appeared in other papers, all with the same vague details. To Peter Kenter of CanWest News Service, the story sounded like an urban legend that had made its way into the news. For instance, Kenter cited old stories of stoned teenagers tossing "leprechauns" into the trunk of their car, only to discover later that the leprechaun was actually a frightened child. Kenter also thought it was strange that Klaus Mueller would have an English nickname, "Shorty." And why was no one but Mueller identified by name?

I think Kenter was absolutely right to be suspicious of the story, but what he did next was even smarter. Instead of just figuring his hunch was correct, he did some more research. He emailed the press officer of the Bremen police, and to his surprise received this reply:
Dear Mr. Kenter:
The story is true. Have a nice day.
Ronald Walther
Polizei Bremen

So unless the press officer was pulling his leg, that means the tale of the dwarf in the trunk was true. But the tale of the dwarf eaten by the hippo remains false.

Urban Legends

Posted on Tue Oct 16, 2007


In Holland use of an English-language nickname like "Shorty" would not be unusual and I reckon it would be similar in Germany. Movie culture and all that.
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Tue Oct 16, 2007  at  02:39 AM
There's a typo! Sorry being pedantic, but the last but one paragraph, you use Mueller when it should of been Kenter!!
Posted by derek  on  Tue Oct 16, 2007  at  05:32 AM
Maybe no one else was identified due to privacy concerns. I'm scared about my name getting out and I never use it for anything on the 'net.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Tue Oct 16, 2007  at  02:51 PM
Thanks, Derek.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Oct 16, 2007  at  04:48 PM
Heard this story years ago. Suspicious.
Posted by P.falc  on  Wed Oct 17, 2007  at  12:21 AM
It could also be that the nickname was translated into English along with the rest of the article. In Bremen he might actually be known as Klaus "Kurz" Mueller or whatever.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Oct 17, 2007  at  02:44 AM
This sounds awfully similar to that Seinfeld episode where Jerry's friend with the broken thumbs checks out something in the trunk and gets locked in by mistake.
Posted by Clare  on  Fri Oct 19, 2007  at  01:38 PM
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