BERLIN (AP) — German customs officials say a trail of slime led them to a stash of almost 100 giant African land snails and other items hidden inside bags at Duesseldorf Airport this month.
In a statement Friday, authorities said officials stumbled over one of the snails on a baggage truck and initially thought it was a toy until it started moving. By following the trail left by the 20-centimeter (8-inch) snail, they found a bag with a hole, with another snail already peeping out of it — possibly preparing a dash for freedom.
In total, officials found six bags containing 93 giant snails, 28 kilograms (62 pounds) of fish and smoked meat, and a suitcase full of rotting meat. All had been imported from Nigeria and were destined for an African goods store in western Germany.
The snails were handed to an animal rescue service in Duesseldorf and the meat was destroyed, customs officials said.
“Never in the history of the Duesseldorf customs office has a trail of slime led us to smuggled goods,” said its spokesman Michael Walk.
Sept. 16 (UPI) — A Google spokesperson said a nearly $250,000 payment placed in the account of a confused cybersecurity professional was the “result of human error.”
Sam Curry, a staff security engineer at Yuga Labs and a self-described “hacker,” said on Twitter that Google sent $249,999 into his bank account without explanation and he was unable to get a response from the company after three weeks of contact attempts.
Curry said he sometimes conducts bug hunting projects for tech companies like Google, but he couldn’t find any link between any recent projects and the mysterious payment.
A Google spokesperson confirmed the payment was an error and said the company is now taking steps to correct it.
“Our team recently made a payment to the wrong party as the result of human error,” the representative told NPR. “We appreciate that it was quickly communicated to us by the impacted partner, and we are working to correct it.”
Curry confirmed Friday that he had finally heard back about his inquiries.
“Google did indeed contact me and I’m going to head into the bank today to pay it back,” Curry told MarketWatch.
Sept. 16 (UPI) — A New York family’s security camera was recording when their cat, missing for four days, returned home and rang the doorbell to be let inside.
Stefanie Whitley said her family’s 8-year-old cat, Lily failed to come home one night about two weeks after the family moved into a new house in Mastic Beach, Long Island.
“Normally she comes home, but this time felt different and I didn’t think that Lily was coming home,” Whitley told WPIX-TV.
Whitley’s fears were put to rest four days later when her Ring doorbell camera recorded Lily walking up onto the front porch and ringing the bell.
“We all gasped. We were laughing. We were emotional. We were crying. It was a great moment,” Whitley said.
Whitley said she believes Lily knew what she was doing when she rang the doorbell.
“She’s a very smart cat,” Whitley told the Daily Voice.
Sept. 19 (UPI) — A trailer collided with a guard rail on a California highway and spilled hundreds of pounds of freshly harvested grapes into the roadway.
The California Highway Patrol said a truck was hauling a flatbed trailer loaded with grape containers on northbound U.S. 101 in Petaluma about 12:30 p.m. Sunday when the trailer went over the guardrail and spilled its load into the left two lanes.
No injuries were reported in the incident.
Traffic was limited to a single lane while Caltrans crews worked to clear the grapes from the roadway. All lanes were reported after about three hours, but traffic observers warned there were residual delays from the closure.
Sept. 16 (UPI) — State wildlife officials responded to Colorado State University’s campus Friday when a bear wandered onto campus and climbed a tree.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed officers removed a young black bear from a tree on the CSU Oval in Fort Collins about 10:30 a.m.
School officials had issued a warning for students to avoid the area due to the bear’s presence about two hours earlier.
Wildlife officers said the bear would be relocated to a mountain area.
The bear was the second to visit the school’s campus within a month. CSU Police and Safety said in a late August Facebook post that a bear wandered into the South Campus area. Police worked with wildlife officers to capture and relocate the bruin.
Sept. 16 (UPI) — A Utah company came together at a sports field to attempt the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest blanket fort.
The event, organized by networking group Tacos Together, Moxie Weighted Blankets and Real Salt Lake, aimed to create a 10,000-square-foot blanket fort Thursday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Lehi.
The fort aimed to break the record of 6,736 square feet. Organizers said all of the blankets used in the attempt would be donated to a local homeless shelter.
Guinness officials had not yet determined Friday whether the record attempt was a success.
Sept. 16 (UPI) — A county official in New York said his home has repeatedly been invaded by raccoons — and one of the “unpatriotic” animals pooped on a flag.
Sam Fein, an Albany County legislator representing the 6th district, said raccoons have invaded his home in the South End of Albany on three occasions in recent weeks.
Fein said the first incident was when he left a back door ajar for his cat, the second was when he was having a cat door installed and the third involved the raccoons chewing through a screen to gain access.
The legislator said the most recent incident happened while he was visiting Lake George for the weekend and got a call from his neighbors about mysterious noises coming from his apartment.
“I have an indoor camera so I logged in on to my camera and I saw I have a raccoon in my house,” Fein told WNYT/WHEC.
He said the repeat visitors have stolen food, rummaged through his belongings and left behind some unsavory messes.
“I noticed they got into a cabinet that had a folded up American flag in it and they pooped on the American flag,” Fein said.
He told the Albany Times-Union that incident must have involved “an unpatriotic raccoon.”
(NJ.com) Shortly after New Jersey enacted a strict plastic bag ban three months ago, employees at the Aberdeen ShopRite noticed something unusual — the store’s handheld plastic shopping baskets were vanishing.
They soon realized brazen shoppers who didn’t bring their own bags and didn’t want to buy 33-cent reusable bags were simply leaving the store with their groceries stuffed in the shopping baskets.
“They were taking them out and never returned,” said an Aberdeen ShopRite employee who declined to give her name. “We went down to no hand baskets at all.”
And the Monmouth County store is not buying new shopping baskets, making the bins the latest grocery store convenience to disappear in the aftermath of the plastic bag ban.
“If we get more, people are going to steal them again,” the employee added.
New Jersey banned single-use plastic bags at all store registers in addition to paper bags at large grocery stores on May 4. The bag ban bill was signed into law in November 2020, giving stores and customers 18 months to prepare.
Despite the lengthy warning, several grocery stores across the state report unprepared customers are flouting basic shopping rules and common decency by stealing handheld baskets.
“While most customers have adapted, unfortunately our members have seen an uptick in customers taking the store baskets and not returning them,” said Mary Ellen Peppard, the vice president of the New Jersey Food Council, a group that represents the state’s grocers and supermarkets.
“These baskets are expensive and some stores have decided not to replace the baskets,” she said.
Peppard noted the baskets typically cost $8, but may have risen in price due to inflation.
Michael Tarya, an employee at the ShopRite of Metro Plaza in Jersey City, said his store’s handheld baskets were removed May 1 in advance of the start of the platic bag ban a few days later.
A spokeswoman for ShopRite said hand basket thefts were “a larger industry issue,” but could not say how many locations have removed the baskets entirely.
Hand baskets are still available at the Flemington ShopRite, but since the bag ban some people have used them to bring items to their car and haven’t returned, said Shannon George, catering coordinator at the Hunterdon County store. Signage now instructs customers the baskets can’t leave the store, she said.
ShopRite isn’t the only grocer dealing with the thefts.
An employee at the Midland Park Acme in Bergen County said her store didn’t have any shopping baskets in stock this week because people were taking them. When asked if baskets were available at an Acme in Woodbury in Gloucester County, an employee said “right now, no, because everybody steals them.”
Over at the Bloomfield Stop and Shop, assistant manager Dan Adams said the Essex County store’s baskets have consistently been stolen since the store eliminated free plastic bags.
“Every time we order 15 or 30 hand baskets, within a week they’re gone,” Adams said. “I order them every other week.”
Stefanie Shuman, a spokeswoman for Stop and Shop, confirmed customers at her chain are also raiding the stacks of shopping baskets.
“Like other retailers across the state, we have experienced theft of our handheld shopping baskets — an unintended consequence of the ban on plastic and paper bags,” she said.
A spokesperson for Whole Foods Market also said their stores have “experienced issues with customers taking handbaskets as a result of the bag ban. However, we have not removed handbaskets from our stores at this time.”
Not all chains are running low on shopping baskets. Marcie Rivera, a spokeswoman for Wegmans, said the chain is not having a problem with basket thefts. Spokespeople for Trader Joe’s, Acme, Aldi and Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But grocers say brazen basket thefts are not something that only happens in Jersey. Other states have also seen an uptick in handheld basket pilfering after enacting plastic bag bans.
In 2020, the baskets began disappearing from a Safeway in Redmond, Oregon, after a plastic bag ban went into effect. Other store clerks in Bend also reported missing baskets, according to NewsChannel 21. Grocers also reported similar thefts in Connecticut, Wyoming and Seattle.
Sept. 19 (UPI) — Police in Alabama responded to a residence to deal with an unusual situation when the homeowner found a snake in their toilet.
The Eufaula Police Department said officers with the day shift responded to help a homeowner who found a snake in their toilet bowl.
“We never know from one day to the next what kind of call we will receive during our shift,” the department said in a Facebook post.
The snake, a “harmless” gray rat snake, was released in “a more suitable habitat,” the department said.
“In the snakes defense, he was just trying to reach the homeowner about their car’s extended warranty,” the post quipped.