ROADS REPORT: A moment of inspiration

That’s all it takes to change the world, or to land a stint in the pokey

Blog Entry September 11, 2014

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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The best laid plans
 

One man’s attempt to get out of a traffic ticket may land him in jail for five years.
 

Julius Lupowitz was driving through West Melbourne, Fla., this past July when he was pulled over for speeding. While the officer was preparing his ticket, Lupowitz came up with a brilliant plan.
 

He started by dialing 9-1-1.
 

“There is a murder that’s going to happen, I swear, on Wingate and Hollywood,” Lupowitz told the dispatcher, referring to an intersection about a mile up the road. “Definitely someone going to get shot. Please, please.”
 

Lupowitz hung up and then called back again to reinforce his bogus story.
 

“I swear, there’s going to be a murder any second. There’s a man and a gun. Please.”
 

Lupowitz hoped that the officer writing his ticket would be ordered to drop everything and rush to the scene, allowing Lupowitz to get away without a ticket while police futilely searched for the imaginary gunman.
 

It almost worked. Lupowitz’s officer was trying to wrap up quickly so he could take off, but while he was still standing at the door of Lupowitz’s vehicle, a broadcast came over police radio announcing that the 9-1-1 calls had been made by a cell phone belonging to one Julius Lupowitz.
 

The officer quickly realized what was happening and now, instead of a $200 speeding ticket, Lupowitz is facing a felony charge with a five-year maximum prison term.
 

Tanks for your bid
 

Driving a Scud missile launcher to work might not be the fastest mode of transportation, but the 35-ft-long short-range ballistic missile on the roof will likely ensure that no one cuts you off.*
 

If that’s worth $345,000 to you, then you should have attended the Littlefield Collection auction this summer near San Francisco.
 

Before his death in 2009, Jacques Littlefield had amassed the world’s largest private collection of armored fighting vehicles, beginning with World War I and spanning every major conflict the U.S. has been involved in since. His focus was on equipment that reflected technological advancements in the field of war.
 

Among the 220 painstakingly restored vehicles in Littlefield’s collection were one of the first tanks ever built, the largest self-propelled gun ever made and the only two privately owned Scud missile launchers in the world.
 

Littlefield’s family donated his collection to the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization. Collings kept the items with the greatest historical significance and sold the rest in what was one of the largest military vehicle auctions ever. The money raised will be used to build a military vehicle museum at the foundation’s headquarters in Stow, Mass., to house the remaining collection.
 

That shouldn’t be a problem after the auction yielded $10.24 million, a full 20% more than was expected.
 

*Note that Littlefield’s collection has already been “demilitarized” and is incapable of shooting missiles or firing real ammunition. So if you are the new owner of the Scud missile launcher, be sure to adjust your road-rage threats accordingly.
 

Lifting his spirits
 

Boris Farihov loves his motorbikes, but so do the local thieves.
 

His first bike was stolen from outside his apartment building in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod despite being locked down with three padlocks.
 

He bought a replacement but only had it for one day before it was stolen, too.
 

After that, Farihov’s wife joked that the only safe place to keep a bike would be indoors, and that’s when inspiration hit.
 

After Farihov bought a third bike, he also invested in a heavy-duty winch, which he attached to his third-floor balcony. Each night, Farihov attaches a steel cable around his bike and uses the winch to hoist it up onto a platform extending out from his balcony.
 

Local police said that motorbike theft is a growing problem in the area because even low-value machines can be quickly resold for their spare parts.
 

However, Farihov is sleeping soundly at night, confident that his bike is finally secure, and fairly sure that it won’t come crashing down on a neighbor or pedestrian below. R&B

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