Roads Report: Not all things are as they appear

Dec. 5, 2003

Hidden agenda

Police in Austria aren't sure what's stranger: the fact that a 52-year-old man tried to rob a bank disguised as a woman, or that he was caught by two guys on a lawn mower.

Hidden agenda

Police in Austria aren't sure what's stranger: the fact that a 52-year-old man tried to rob a bank disguised as a woman, or that he was caught by two guys on a lawn mower.

The cross-dressing thief took a gun into the Attnang-Puchheim bank and left with over $11,000 (US). He might have gotten away, too, if a pair of brave citizens hadn't noticed what happened. Together the men jumped on a riding mower and began chasing after the robber. Perhaps impeded by his choice of clothing, the transgender crook was eventually caught by the men and held until police arrived.

The thief is suspected of being involved in the robberies of two other local banks that were knocked over by a ballerina and Aquaman.

What a pain

Rush hour might be more than just a pain in the neck. A British study recently found that many people's back problems are directly related to the amount of time they spend in the car.

 A good way to avoid this, the study said, is to practice good posture in the car. Sitting incorrectly on the way to work can place twice as much pressure on your back than standing with bad posture for the same amount of time.

Besides relaxing, properly adjusting your seat and avoiding tight clothes while driving, the study suggested clenching your buttocks during traffic jams along with side bends and shoulder shrugs in order to avoid back pain.

Touch and go

In Japan, claims of groping aren't limited to elections. Female subway passengers in Osaka and Tokyo have complained so often of regular groping, the city is now offering a women-only car on each of its trains.

The problem still isn't fixed, though. Many argue that reserving one car for women causes overcrowding in the others. What's more, women stuck riding in the mixed cars worry about giving the impression that they don't mind being groped.

Strange signs

Police are looking for a man in Leesburg, Va., after a puzzling incident at the local Department of Motor Vehicles.

A DMV employee was approached by the man a few weeks ago to have his license application processed. When the employee asked for proof of address, the man calmly handed her a postcard photo of a banana being shot by a bullet. Under the photo he had printed "banana=DMV." The man then quietly walked out of the DMV office.

Several DMV employees chased after the man, but he was nowhere in sight. What they did find, however, was bananas scattered all around the DMV parking lot.

Investigators believe the man was unhappy about an earlier denied application.

Tips from the road

If you're pulled over by the police for an obvious traffic violation, you can sometimes avoid the cost of an expensive ticket by telling the officer that you're a celebrity. The trick, though, is to pose as a celebrity who is roughly your age.

A drunken driver in Holland didn't think his story through before he told police that he was Pope John Paul II. Police were tipped off by the fact that the man was 30 years younger than the pope and lacked the pontiff's heavy Polish accent.

Still, the man insisted he was the pope and refused to cooperate with police. Eventually the pope's son, who was in the passenger seat, managed to get his dad out of the car to face his earthly authority. The pope was arrested after failing a breathalyzer test.   

The Urinator

When you think of two great tastes that taste great together, restrooms and racing probably don't immediately come to mind.

But that's not the case in Virginia City, Nev., which hosted the fifth annual Outhouse Races last month. Twenty-two outhouses competed down the main drag of the city for the coveted Royal Flush Trophy.

But qualifying isn't easy. The outhouses had to be at least 6 ft tall, weigh 200 lb, contain a toilet and toilet paper and have no more than three people pushing. Motors, sails, dog teams and gas-assisted propulsion were prohibited.

Kevin Moore, who raced the "Flaming Butt Hut," put the weekend in perspective. "I can bring my own refrigerator and own beer and drink in the street and not get arrested like in Reno," he told the Associated Press.    

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