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Considering Overlooked Crime Stories

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Crime stories have become, and really always have been, a form of popular entertainment in journalism. But this week I find myself intrigued by several stories about crimes that didn't quite come off as expected, but they have something interesting in play.

Junior Stowers in Honolulu was acquitted by a jury this week, raised his hands and shouted, thank you, Jesus. But Judge Patrick Border ordered him held in contempt for what he called an indecorous outburst of emotion. Mr. Stowers' attorney says his client believes that thanking Jesus is a humble expression of gratitude and not an outburst in the same category as going woo, woo, woo.

Impersonal as it sounds, maybe Junior Stowers should've just sent Jesus an e-card saying thank you. He would understand.

Police in Australia caught and released a man charged with playing dead. He had car trouble along a road in the Outback, about 450 miles southeast of Perth, and was sure that no one would stop for a man standing next to a broken down car. There's just too many stories about demented hitchhikers faking car trouble.

So he decided to just lay down in the middle of the road. A passing motorist with two children in her car swerved around him and called an ambulance. And when emergency crews arrived, including police, the man leapt up and announced that he was fine, only his car was broken. Police arrested him for filing a false emergency report but had to release him. After all, all he really did was lie down on the road. Of course the problem with playing dead is, what do you do for an encore?

Tristan Maidment thought that the bird ratted him out. Mr. Maidment pleaded guilty this week to stealing a macaw named Micky from a pet shop in Frome, England. He made a seemingly successful getaway from the bet store, but Micky, who is 50 years old and famously fierce, nipped his burglar's hand.

Police found a splotch of blood in the shop, tested the DNA and tracked down Tristan Maidment, who confessed when he thought Micky the macaw had identified him. There's the guy. There's the guy. The bird hadn't squawked. He could've walked.

And finally, watch your P's and Q's and hold onto your R's in Green Castle, Indiana. A thief there has stolen dozens of R's and just R's from the signs of shops, gas stations, motels, estauants and epai shops. Maybe he just got a strong Boston accent.

Hedley Hardware is now Hedley Hadwae. The National Guard post now says National Guad U.S. Amy (unintelligible).

Jane Hanson, who manages the local motel, says whoever's doing it needs to put their talents to something more constructive. We say, ight on. Stealing consonants is a eally despeate cime. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.