Quick Takes: Vane pursuits | WORLD
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Quick Takes: Vane pursuits

A long-lost weather vane points to a historical crime trend

Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes: Vane pursuits
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It’s finally “case closed” in a Vermont village’s biggest caper of the last four decades. In 1983, unidentified thieves stole a historic weather vane from a train depot in White River Junction, Vt. The 5-foot-4-inch-long gilded copper weather vane—which depicts a steam locomotive pulling a coal tender—served as a symbol for the village dating back to the early 20th century. Beginning in the late 1960s, weather vane thefts became commonplace in New England because of the market value for the historic ornaments, according to emeritus professor Kevin Jordan of Roger Williams University. “People would rent a helicopter for $200 an hour, head out to rural areas and steal 50, 60, 70 weather vanes at a time,” Jordan said. “They could be worth anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 each at the time.” Although the identities of the White River Junction thieves still remain a mystery, in May the stolen train weather vane was finally recovered through investigations conducted by the Art Loss Register and Sotheby’s auction house. “We always knew it would show up,” former depot owner Byron Hathorn told the Valley News.

Crowdsourced nest egg

Dillon McCormick may not be pushing shopping carts in a grocery store parking lot much longer. Louisiana resident Karen Swensen discovered McCormick, 90, working at the Winn-Dixie in May. After Swensen asked why he was working at such an advanced age, the sprightly nonagenarian told her his Social Security check didn’t cover all his bills. So he took a job at the local grocery store corralling shopping carts. Swensen, a former WWL-TV anchor, interviewed McCormick and produced a video asking people to donate to a GoFundMe retirement fund for the Air Force veteran. By June 5, the fund had raised over $244,000.

Moose on the loose

On highways in rural Ontario, it can seem like moose all the way down. An ambulance responding to a May 19 emergency call due to a vehicular collision with a moose never made it to the accident scene after it encountered its own emergency: It struck another moose en route. Police said the moose caused significant damage to the ambulance, but no human injuries were reported. According to Ontario Provincial Police, collisions with moose have increased near Algonquin Provincial Park as the animals flee forests to escape swarms of insects.

Chaotic cricket crisis

A combination of rain and cricket viscera led to multiple crashes on Nevada highways in late May and sparked a host of warnings from local authorities to beware of cricket slicks. Mormon crickets, which look like fat grasshoppers, are known to swarm buildings and roadways in northern Nevada in late spring. According to the Eureka County Sheriff’s Office, crushed crickets that mix with rainwater create “Mormon cricket sludge” that smells foul and also hinders the ability of vehicles to maneuver. Though the initial crashes occurred May 25, Nevada officials said the threat would persist until the insects finished emerging in early June.

Fishing for dollars

While magnet fishing in a Queens, N.Y., park, a local couple caught a safe May 31. Shortly after casting a strong magnet into a Corona Park pond, James Kane and Barbie Agostini knew they’d latched onto something big. At the end of the line: an old safe holding a cache of cash worth an estimated $100,000. “I looked, and it was just pure hundred dollar bills,” Kane said. “Humungous stacks of them.” After checking with New York City police, the pair were able to keep the contents of the safe, but the bills were soaked thoroughly and, according to Kane, “pretty much destroyed.” The couple may have success redeeming at least some of the bills through the federal Bureau of Engraving & Printing’s mutilated currency redemption program, which receives about 22,000 requests a year.

Black market haul

Canadian customs officials nabbed about 240 pounds of baby eels during a raid at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in May. According to the Canada Border Services Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the captured elvers had a market value likely exceeding $300,000. Officials suspect the baby eels were bound for Asia where they would have been raised into adults before winding up in markets and restaurants. Strong demand for eels in Asia, especially at restaurants serving the eel-based unagi sushi, has led to a rise in illegal fishing from Canadian fisheries. According to government officials, nearly 150 people have been arrested for eel-related crimes this year alone.

Beyond trash talk

In a juvenile turn of events in a decades-long conflict, South Korean officials have accused their northern adversaries of bombing the South with trash dropped by balloons. According to South Korean officials, at least 260 balloons dropped garbage onto eight of nine South Korean provinces, and a South Korean news agency reported the trash bags contained animal or human waste. A North Korean minister confirmed the attack, saying it was in retaliation for South Korean activists airlifting banned media into the North via balloon.


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