The Bizarre World of Florida

Suspected bike thief found snoozing in Walmart April 22, 2014

Filed under: Controversy,Drugs,Dumb,Florida Nut,Fraud,Really Dumb,Robbers,Stupid,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 6:58 pm

An Englewood man accused of stealing a bicycle was later found by Walmart employees taking a nap in a bean bag chair, according to deputies.

sfl-flduh-bike-thief-snoozing-20140421-00119-year-old Roy Hornjak has been arrested and charged with Burglary of a Dwelling, Burglary of a Structure, Burglary of a Conveyance, Grand Theft, and Violation of Probation.

According to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, an Englewood resident reported on Sunday that a bicycle valued at over $300 was stolen from their garage and the suspect had also apparently entered their vehicle to light a marijuana cigarette, based on an odor in the car.

A family member later located the missing bicycle in the bike rack outside the McCall Road Walmart.

After viewing the video, Wal-Mart personnel located Hornjak asleep on bean bag chairs inside the store. He was asked to leave the store. Instead of leaving, Hornjak went to the Subway located inside Wal-Mart and fell asleep at a table.

When deputies were talking to him at Wal-Mart, Hornjak was found to be in possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

He is being held without bond at the Charlotte County Jail.


Hospital housekeeper cleaned out visitor’s purse April 18, 2014

Filed under: Amazing,Disgusting,Dumb,Fraud,Really Dumb,Robbers,Sad Story,Sick,Stupid,WTF? — floridaduh @ 2:18 pm

A North Florida Regional Medical Center housekeeper was arrested Wednesday afternoon after police say she stole money from a woman visiting her sick father.


Joy Williams Lawton

Joy Williams Lawton, 56, of 4517 SE First Place, is accused of stealing about $900 from the woman’s purse while on her shift Tuesday morning at the hospital, the Gainesville Police Department reported.

The woman, Spring Ann Mills, of Lake City, caught Lawton digging through the purse in her father’s room, according to a GPD arrest report. Mills confronted Lawton, and the two argued until hospital staff members broke them up.

While Lawton waited in the hallway, a video camera recorded her pulling the money out of her pockets and hiding the cash behind a glove box hanging outside a door, police said.

During an interview with police, Lawton denied stealing the money, saying she only moved Mills’ purse. An hour later, officers searched Lawton and found $450 in cash, folded in half inside bank envelopes, in her pocket, police said. Two hospital staff members later found $447 inside the glove box, police said.

On Wednesday, during another police interview, police found an additional $182 in cash in Lawton’s pocket. She continued to deny her involvement in the theft.

Police arrested Lawton at 2 p.m. Wednesday on a grand theft charge and later booked her into the Alachua County jail. She was released Thursday.

Pamela Rittenhouse, director of marketing, said late Thursday the hospital had fired Lawton after her arrest.

“Actions by employees and contractors that interfere with the safety and well-being of patients and visitors are met with zero tolerance,” Rittenhouse said in a statement. “Always, the comfort and well-being of our patients and visitors is of primary concern to us.”


Flip flop: Shopper finds her own stolen shoes on sale

Filed under: Bizzarre,Dumb,Florida Nut,Fraud,Really Dumb,Robbers,Stupid,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 2:15 pm

sfl-flduh-stolen-shoes-sale-20140417-001An Ocala shopper got a surprise last month when she saw some of her own shoes – and some shoes belonging to her fiancé — on sale at a local store.

Her find led to the arrest Wednesday of Aric Shiawn McCray, 23, who had been living with them, on 11 counts of dealing in stolen property, according to the Ocala Police Department

Unfortunately, Plato’s Closet, at 2701 SW College Road, had already sold some of the shoes.

OPD Detective Mark Hoover found that McCray had made 23 transactions with the store since Dec. 2. Eleven of those involved items belonging to the woman or her fiancé. Those transactions totaled $302.65.

Hoover spoke with McCray, who told him that the couple had given him permission to take the shoes, according to OPD. He was arrested and taken to the Marion County Jail.


Gunman steals a master key allowing access to thousands of mailboxes April 17, 2014

Filed under: Dumb,Florida Nut,OK Then .....,Robbers,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 6:59 pm

Thousands of mailboxes could be compromised after an armed robber stole a postal key from a mail carrier in Lauderhill, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

fl-letter-carrier-robbed-20140416-001The holdup happened about 5 p.m. Monday as the carrier was delivering mail to the Continental Apartments, 1761 NW 46th Ave., postal inspector Blanca Alvarez said.

“The mail carrier was not suspicious because people oftentimes walk in and out of that hallway,” she said. “He approached her from behind and touched her with a gun and told her, ‘Give me the keys.’”

Surveillance video shows the suspect lurking near the mailboxes before the postal carrier arrives. The suspect was wearing a bright orange T-shirt, white shorts and bright orange running shoes, the video showed.

“It appears on the video this person actually did some surveillance before committing the crime,” she said.

He returned a couple of minutes later, wearing a black hoodie, to rob the carrier, the video showed.

“The carrier, fortunately, was not physically harmed,” Alvarez said. “She was shaken up as anybody would be in that type of violent situation.”

Postal keys open thousands of mailboxes on a carrier’s route, which is enticing to thieves, she said.

“It’s a crime of opportunity and criminals usually go out there and try to find something of value that they can steal,” Alvarez said. “There might be cash in the [mailbox], there may be gift cards, or they try to commit identity theft by ordering credit cards or debit cards in people’s names.”

Unless you are a federal employee, possession of a postal key is a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or 25 years if a weapon is used in the robbery, she said.

“Postal inspectors went out that same day and notified all the residents that the postal key was taken and they should pick up their mail soon after delivery and not leave it in the mailboxes overnight, which is what we normally suggest to people on a regular basis,” she said.

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service asks anyone with information to call the agency at 877-876-2455 or 954-436-7200.


State worker fraudulently put nearly $23K into inmates’ accounts, including her hubby’s

Filed under: Bizzarre,Dumb,Fraud,Robbers,Stupid,WTF? — floridaduh @ 6:50 pm

sfl-flduh-inmates-accounts-hubbys-20140416-001An inmate serving time in Polk County and his wife in Orlando transferred more than $20,000 from stolen credit cards into prisoner trust fund accounts, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

After Tamika Teague, 34, deposited the money her husband Ronald Teague, 34, sent her nearly $15,000 from the state Department of Corrections check system, according to FDLE.

The couple were arrested Tuesday on charges of grand theft.

Tamika Teague, a state Department of Health employee, remains held at the Orange County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail. Her husband is an inmate at the Polk Correctional Institution.

Ronald Teague is serving five years for child abuse, child neglect and fleeing and eluding police. He previously served two terms for armed robbery and carrying a concealed firearm, according to state prison records.

An FDLE spokesman declined to comment on when prison officials discovered the multiple deposits into 36 inmates’ trust accounts. The investigation remains open.

According to a press release, Tamika Teague of Regal Oak Circle took part in 115 transactions using 25 stolen credit card numbers to deposit $22,735 into the prisoners’ accounts. Of those, her husband is charged with receiving $7,000 plus $900 in fraudulent payments to this inmate telephone account.

The case is being handled by the attorney general’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.


If you’re going to burglarize a business, it’s probably best not to follow them on Instagram April 16, 2014

A Boca Raton e-cigarette burglar was “immediately” identified when the victim told police the suspect follows his business on Instagram, according to a Boca Raton Police arrest report.

An owner of Florida E-cigs and Vapes at 281 N. Dixie Highway, watched surveillance video of a burglar throwing a brick through the front door and stealing about $2,000 worth of e-cigarettes and juice used in the cigarettes on Sunday.

fl-boca-instagram-burglar-20140415-001The owner said he recognized the burglar as Tanner Bradshaw, 18, of Boca Raton, a regular customer and one of nearly 350 followers the business has on Instagram, according to the report.

A photo of Bradshaw’s driver’s license is one of 80 photos on his Instagram account.

Police found Bradshaw on Monday at about 5 p.m. near Palmetto Park Road and Southwest Third Street with products stolen from Florida E-Cigarettes.

Bradshaw told police he has a narcotics addiction and is remorseful, according to the report.

He faces burglary and grand theft charges and remains in Palm Beach County Jail in lieu of $6,000 bail.


Victoria’s Secret? Stealing credit card information

os-alexander-sundeman-sanchez-picture-20140415A clerk at an Orlando Victoria’s Secret outlet store used a skimmer to steal tourists’ credit-card information and then sell it, federal prosecutors allege.

Between Nov. 29 and April 3, the woman hid the skimmer under her skirt at Orlando Premium Outlets on International Drive and swiped customers’ cards before running them through the cash register, according to court documents.

The woman, whose name is not revealed in court documents, was paid $500 whenever a felon named Alexander Sundeman Sanchez, downloaded card numbers from the device, records show.

“I forgot to tell u i really only want foreigners and tourists,” Sanchez texted the woman, according to court documents.

Sanchez, 29, picked up the skimmer once a week for several months, records state. When he moved to Tampa, Neftali Oquendo, 27, of Orlando began retrieving it, documents state.

Both men were arrested last week on fraud charges.

A confidential source told the U.S. Attorney’s Office about the operation. The U.S. Secret Service investigated.

Sanchez in March was sentenced to two years’ probation for gun, marijuana and drug-paraphernalia convictions.

Oquendo was convicted in 2008 of petty theft.


Burglar takes shower and steals lunch meat April 15, 2014

Filed under: Amazing,Bizzarre,Funny,OK Then .....,Robbers,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 8:10 pm

A Boynton Beach woman said a burglar took a shower and some lunch meat, according to Boynton Beach Police.

The break-in happened on the 3000 block of Southeast Second Street on Friday. The woman said the burglar broke in through a window, then unlocked several doors in the home.

Police collected a blood sample at the scene and then talked to the woman.

She also told police lunch meat was taken from the refrigerator and the shower stall was wet.


Looks like the grape escape from the grocer didn’t last long

A woman accused of walking into a Publix with no pants on and walking out with two stolen boxes of wine has been caught, police said.

See the video

sfl-flduh-pantless-vino-thief-20140414-001Desiree Taylor, 35, was arrested Monday morning at her apartment by Ocala police.

Taylor entered the store on College Road and grabbed the two boxes of wine, worth about $42, and left.

Authorities said the store manager tried to stop Taylor from stealing the wine, but she started swinging her arms wildly and fled.

Taylor was arrested on March 2 on charges including battery on a firefighter or emergency medical technician and resisting an officer.

Authorities said those charges stemmed from an incident in which Taylor was acting strangely and screaming profanities at an apartment complex pool and resisting officers and firefighters when they came to check on her well-being.


Vampires, nudists, snakes: Nobody does wacky like Florida April 7, 2014


By: Scott Maxwell

Last week, news broke that a congressional candidate in Gainesville had a secret pastime: impersonating vampires. And superheroes.

Some people would call this nutty.

In Florida, we just call it Tuesday.

Seriously, that’s not even our highest-profile vampire story. Remember the “vampire killings” from Lake County?

Some of our stories are heartbreakingly tragic. But so many are also mind-numbingly strange.

In Florida, we do weird the way Kansas does wheat.

Here, giant pet snakes escape. And breed. And then invade our national parks.

We have fish that eat people, alligators that eat people and people who eat people.

Two years ago, when news of the “cannibal attack” broke, the nation let out a collective gasp … until learning it was Miami. Then it all made sense.

We have killer amoebas, hanging chads and diaper-wearing astronauts. (All of which would make awesome rock-band names, by the way.)

We have a town named Christmas … where it never snows. We have the world’s smallest post office and a couple trying to build America’s largest house.

I used to think Florida attracted wacky people. Now I think it creates them.

Take my grandfather, for example.

Early in his life, he was a NASA engineer in Virginia — and as strait-laced and buttoned-down as they came. His passions were photography and crossword puzzles.

Then he moved to Florida. After Grandma died, we worried that our sober and contemplative grandfather would become listless and uninspired.

He became neither of those things. Instead, he became a nudist. (Lending more credence to the notion that it’s never the people you want to see naked at a nudist resort.)

At first, we were all: What the heck, Granddad?

But you know what? He found new life and inspiration. He’d travel down Interstate4 from Ormond Beach to Cypress Cove, where he’d pay strict adherence to the two main rules: Never take pictures, and always place a towel on the bar stool before you sit down.

Florida liberated him. And he spent the remaining, widowed years of his life happy. So you go, Granddad.

By the way, nudity is another one of our weird themes.

•”Nude man found dead on killer whale’s back”

•”Florida Lotto winner seeks to open a nude dude ranch”

•”Blind woman sues nudist colony over heavy dog”

Florida newspapers carry such headlines the way other papers carry horoscopes.

Some of that is understandable. It’s hot down here.

And I don’t mean happy, sand-at-your-toes, wind-in-your-hair hot. I mean sweaty-thighs-stuck-to-your-car-seats, armpit-stains-like-dinner-plates hot. It’s enough to make anyone nutty. And naked.

But it cuts both ways. When it’s hot, it makes us crazy. When it’s pleasant, we attract other states’ crazies. I mean, if it’s January and you’re already planning to run a scam, con or heist, would you rather do it in Buffalo or Boynton Beach?

This state is also lousy with newspapers and TV stations, meaning we have more ink-stained wretches and blow-dried broadcasters than your average state to tell all the weird stories.

Finally, there’s our melting-pot effect.

You simply can’t throw so many different cultures together and not expect some fireworks.

But you know what? That is also part of what makes this state so splendidly unique.

We have character and texture — a bouillabaisse of native and newcomer, sinner and saint, scholar and simpleton.

It’s a fusion that produces a weeklong bacchanalia in Key West and pioneering medical research at the Burnham Institute.

It’s the reason Orlando can turn out just as many people for a Veterans Day parade as it does for Come Out With Pride.

And it explains how a mild-mannered rocket engineer can feel inspired to start a new life by ditching his pocket protector — along with everything else he’s wearing.

And, yes, it’s also how we end up with some of the wackiest politicians in America — including a vampire-impersonating, superhero-mimicking, punk-rock lawyer running for Congress.

Just what we need … another lawyer in Congress.



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