In 2007, a man stole $28 million worth of diamonds (120,000 carats) from a bank in Antwerp. The man, calling himself Carlos Hector Flomenbaum, used a stolen Argentine passport to become one of bank’s most trusted customers in the year before the heist. He was never seen again.
WTF Fun Fact 12895 – The Mumbai Thief Punished With Bananas
Bananas are very nutritious, and they can often help with constipation. But we’ve never seen them employed as a laxative punishment.
It all happened in Mumbai, India back in 2016…
The thief and the bananas
Indian police caught a thief who had allegedly stolen a gold chain from a woman on the street in Mumbai. In order to conceal any crime, the thief decided to swallow the gold chain.
Of course, we now have ways of checking to see if there’s a gold chain in someone’s stomach, so police had his stomach X-rayed at the hospital to reveal that the gold chain was indeed inside him. An enema was administered but yielded no results.
And THEN came the uncomfortable part.
Rather than let nature take its course, the police wanted to retrieve the chain more quickly. So they force-fed the man over 40 bananas.
Bananas are one of the best foods to help with digestion since the carbohydrates they contain are easily broken down by the body. And if someone’s not feeling well (say, after swallowing a necklace), bananas are a gentle way of easing stomach pain. Of course, the point here was to use them as a laxative.
The banana aftermath
According to The Guardian (cited below), “Doctors suggested performing an operation, but police officers decided it would be too expensive and opted instead for the bananas.”
Mandatory surgery seems pretty darn drastic! So in this case the bananas were the less extreme option.
It’s unclear if the police used a technique other than simply mandating the man eat the bananas behind bars. A senior inspector with Mumbai police named Shankar Dhanavade said “He was fed more than 40 bananas throughout the day,” so that’s all we know.
The 25-year-old man eventually passed the chain – and we’re happy not to have the gruesome details of that part. What we do know is that the police made the man wash and disinfect the chain before handing it over.
A not-so-rare approach
Apparently, banana-feeding is not a rare occurrence in Mumbai (perhaps because swallowing allegedly stolen jewelry happened more often than you’d think).
The Guardian noted that “According to reports, it was not the first time Mumbai police had used this technique in order to recover a stolen item. In July last year, a chain was retrieved after a thief was made to eat two-dozen bananas and drink several litres of milk laced with laxatives, the Hindustan Times reported. In April, a thief was fed five-dozen bananas after swallowing a gold chain with a large pendant. The thief successfully excreted the loot, but the disgusted victim refused to touch it and instead took it to a jeweller in a plastic bag, the newspaper said.”
In case you skimmed that, it said 5 DOZEN bananas and a LARGE pendant. We’re pretty sure that thief never wanted to swallow anything again after that traumatic episode! And while we can’t be sure, we also imagine he never wanted to eat another banana again after that.
While we don’t advocate swallowing jewelry, we are now considering adding more bananas to our diet – in moderation, of course. – WTF fun facts
Source: “Indian police force feed 40 bananas to thief who swallowed gold chain” — The Guardian
WTF Fun Fact 12772 – Real-Life Paw Patrol
Remember McGruff the Crime Dog? Ever watch Paw Patrol with your kids? Well, it turns out dogs really do take a bite out of crime – just not in the way we expected.
The Pros of a Paw Patrol
Recent research in the journal Social Forces has found that neighborhoods that contain more dogs have lower levels of crime. But the paper, titled “Paws on the Street: Neighborhood-Level Concentration of Households with Dogs and Urban Crime,” found that it wasn’t the dogs themselves that deterred criminals.
Based on the work of Jane Jacobs, this research adds to the idea that “eyes on the street” can (but don’t always) help deter bad actors. That’s a plus for communities where people get out of their houses and are seen by neighbors. (But it’s obviously not that straightforward, and Jacobs failed to take into account race and class in much of her research.)
Eyes on the street
Nevertheless, the new research suggests that in many neighborhoods, the presence of community members makes a neighborhood less likely to seem like a target for crimes such as theft. Not only do neighbors get to know each other better and establish trust, but more eyes mean more potential reporters when people who see something wrong.
Of course, we’ve seen reporting of “something wrong” go sideways in many cases, especially when it comes to situations that involve race and class differences. We’ve also seen that a police response isn’t the best way to keep crime down. So this research just provides a general sense of how things might work for some neighborhoods.
So what’s the deal with dogs?
Dogs come into play because people need to walk them – and people do this at all hours of the day. Neighborhoods with dogs tend to have a lot more human activity out on the sidewalks. In general, the evidence showed that this was largely a good thing when it came to deterring crime.
The researchers found that neighborhoods with higher concentrations of dogs tended to report less robbery, homicide, and aggravated assault rates (as long as “eyes on the street” came with an increased level of trust).
As always, it’s important to note that the researchers found a correlation between dog ownership and less crime. This is not the same is causation – meaning we can’t say that owning dogs leads to less crime until there’s far more evidence. – WTF fun facts
Source: “Dogs Could Be Lowering Crime Levels in Your Neighborhood. Seriously” — ScienceAlert
WTF Fun Fact 12639 – Prosecuting Space Crime
Pretty soon, it may be illegal for Canadian astronauts to go on crime sprees in space.
Now, we’re pretty sure that’s not why Canadians become astronauts in the first place, but apparently, you can never be too careful.
So, what’s this all about? Well, Canada just proposed an amendment to the country’s Criminal Code in their no-doubt riveting 443-page Budget Implementation Act in the House of Commons. It basically states that any crime committed in space by Canadians will be considered to have been committed on Canadian territory and punished accordingly. In other words, if you commit moon murder as a Canadian, you better not come back.
Interestingly, Canada has been preparing for space crime for a while now. Their Criminal Code already lays out prohibitions on crimes Canadian astronauts may commit during space flight to the International Space Station. accounts for astronauts who may commit crimes during space flights to the International Space Station.
Canada is part of the Lunar Gateway Project, a NASA-backed orbiting space platform. Part of that plan includes a trip to the moon, and apparently, the government wants to make sure Canadians maintain their reputation for being polite even among extraterrestrials.
The proposed code change reads:
“A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offense is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada.”
There are two interesting questions at play here – 1) who controls space justice, and 2) what gives a country the right to say space in their territory for prosecutorial purposes?
If you think space crime is absurd, there have already been accusations that have raised questions (however, no crime actually occurred). In 2019, astronaut Anne McClain was accused by her estranged spouse, Summer Worden, of improperly accessing bank records from the International Space Station. But McClain was later cleared after her spouse admitted to lying.
Still, it made people wonder how we might prosecute crimes in space, where no one technically owns territory (yet) and no one has jurisdiction.
Now, we already have some guidelines for international space law, believe it or not. According to CBC News:
“‘There are five international treaties governing activities in space but the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, ratified by Canada and more than 100 other countries, is the most relevant when it comes to dealing with alleged crimes in space, wrote Danielle Ireland-Piper, an associate professor of constitutional and international law at Australia’s Bond University. ‘As for the question of who prosecutes space crimes, the short answer is that a spacefaring criminal would generally be subject to the law of the country of which they are a citizen, or the country aboard whose registered spacecraft the crime was committed.'”
But things might be different if the astronaut-on-astronaut crime occurs between two different nations. In that case, there might be some disagreement about which country is able to prosecute the space offender. – WTF fun facts
Source: “Crimes on the moon could soon be added to Canada’s Criminal Code” — CBC News
WTF Fun Fact 12599 – Philadelphia’s “Eagles Jail”
Philadelphia fans have a reputation for being…well, let’s say rowdy. For example, they’re the fans who booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs. In fact, in 1986, the Eagles stadium stopped selling beer at halftime in the hopes of improving fan behavior. But it clearly didn’t do the job because, in 1997, the Eagles installed a courtroom and jail at Veterans Stadium.
During a Monday Night Football game that year, the Eagles played the 49ers in a matchup that somehow sparked around 60 fistfights in the stands, along with some yahoo setting off a flare gun. Enough was enough. Families claimed to be afraid to take their children to games. So, the next time fans returned to the stadium, Eagles Court was in order.
On opening day, 20 fans were brought in front of Justice Seamus P. McCaffery.
But here’s another fun fact: It turns out Philly fans weren’t really the problem.
McCaffery said :
“Eagles Court was a lot of fun and it served a purpose. One of the interesting facts that came out of Eagles Court was that 95 percent of the people arrested were not from Philadelphia. But Philadelphia was getting broad-brushed as the city with horrible, horrible fans.”
So, apparently, Philly isn’t necessarily home to rowdy fans, but it encouraged rowdiness in people somehow.
For the most part, the court existed to bounce and/or fine people who got out of hand. Anyone who had committed a legit crime was handed over to the local police.
Eagles security and Philadelphia police had cited or arrested fans in the past, but most of them never showed up to their court dates weeks or months later, and their crimes weren’t serious enough for the police to track them down again. Eagles court made sure they were fined on the spot (or assigned community service).
But one of the problems with Eagles court is that it virtually forced people to plead guilty on the spot to avoid being arrested for real. It’s unlikely that everyone was sober enough to understand what was happening.
Some media outlets report that the court was only housed in the stadium in 1997 and was transferred out and into an actual court by 1998, while others say it was in the stadium for its whole (short) life, from 1997 to 2003. When the Vet was replaced by Lincoln Financial Field, there was also a 4-cell jail inside, but that only lasted two years. – WTF fun facts
Source: “The Eagles’ history features a stadium jail, bounties and vomit, but lacks titles” — CBS Sports
WTF Fun Fact 12415 – Santa Cash
David Wayne Oliver has a bit of a bank-robbing problem. In 2019, at age 65, he walked into a Colorado Springs bank claiming to be armed, stole an undisclosed amount of money, and then took the bag out to the street and tossed the cash in the air while shouting “Merry Christmas.” Interestingly, many passersby took the money right back into the bank.
Dubbed the “Santa Claus Bank Robber,” Oliver then sauntered over to a Starbucks where he watched the commotion and waited for his inevitable arrest.
But the story doesn’t end there. Oliver was armed in 2021 when he brandished a gun in a bank at another robbery in Teller County, Colorado. This time, he also led police on a car chase before his arrest.
During the 2021 chase, Oliver held his gun outside his car window, alerting the police that he was armed and was not going back to jail. During the chase, he tossed the gun but kept driving. Strangely enough, the deputies chasing him decided not to pursue.
He eventually turned himself in, but not before becoming the star of a viral Tik Tok video of the encounter. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “I’m an outlaw and a renegade, ok? The sheriff is down there, and they’ve got a roadblock looking for my a**. Get on the radio, you mister, get on your smartphone. I surrender to you boys; I’m not surrendering to the sheriff. I’m surrendering to the Honeycutt boys. I’m the Santa Clause bank robber from last year!”
Oliver was eventually charged with felonies, including menacing, vehicular eluding, possession of a weapon, and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. His bond was set at $2,000. – WTF Fun Facts
Source: “Bearded man robs bank, gifts money, then yells ‘Merry Christmas'” — BBC News
WTF Fun Fact 12413 – Antarctic Antics
A Russian engineer working in Antarctica faced murder charges in 2018 after stabbing a colleague in the chest. According to news outlets Sergey Savitsky stabbed welder Oleg Beloguzov as was retribution for telling him the endings of all the books he was reading.
The stabbing took place at a Russian research station in the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica called Bellingshausen Station. Beloguzov’s life was not in danger from the wound, but he was evacuated to Chile for medical treatment. Savitsky was taken to St. Petersburg and arrested for the crime.
According to the LA Times, “Alexander Klepikov, the deputy director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, said of Savitsky and Beloguzov, ‘They are both professional scientists who have been working in our expeditions, spending yearlong seasons at the station. It is down to investigators to figure out what sparked the conflict, but both men are members of our team.'”
There were some rumors that alcohol was also involved in the conflict.
Some news outlets claimed the rumor about the books is untrue and that the engineer was suffering from the trauma of being at a remote location for so long.
Interestingly, the case never went to court since Savitsky and Beloguzov reconciled and the latter didn’t want to press charges. – WTF Fun Facts
Source: Antarctica scientist allegedly stabs colleague for spoiling the endings of books — LA Times
WTF Fun Fact – A Costly Accusation
30-year-old Gricelda Perez was accused of stealing a protein bar from a California market in 2018. The city of Ontario, California fired her, despite inconclusive evidence, and spent $133,866 in legal fees justifying their actions. The protein bar cost $2.99. – WTF Fun Facts
Source: California city spent $133,866 trying to fire employee over alleged $2.99 theft — Mercury News
WTF Fun Fact – Idiot Cleveland Driver
In 2012, a Cleveland woman arrested for a traffic violation was ordered to share her crime by holding a sign for 2 days that read ‘only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.’ – WTF Fun Facts