Cops: Thieves Hit Car With Officer Inside

Gun Misfires, Robber Hit By Van During Heist

M I A M I — It's hard to keep a bad bank robber down.

The attempted holdup at the Wachovia Bank in North Miami Beach started smoothly enough on Monday, when a man in a black T-shirt and blue sweat pants walked in and demanded cash from a teller.

But then the robber's hand gun accidentally went off after he grabbed the cash.

"As he was running out of the bank he went to put the gun back in his pocket and it discharged," said Judy Orihuela, the spokeswoman for the FBI's Miami office.

Witnesses told police he was as startled as they were at the gunshot. It was unclear if he was injured.

After the shot, the robber ran out in the street, where he was struck by a passing van. The vehicle's driver hopped out to help the robber, not knowing he had just held up the bank.

Once he was pulled from underneath the van, the robber limped off to a waiting getaway car. The red Mitsubishi sped off, but apparently the robber isn't in the clear yet. "We recovered two gold teeth from when he was hit by the van," Orihuela said.

"We'll be able to get DNA from that."

Authorities are checking local hospitals in case the robber seeks medical attention.

"Witness said he was pretty banged up," Orihuela said. "We believe he should seek medical attention."

Police Let the Thieves Come to Them

C H I C A G O — If this van's eavesdroppin', don't come a-knockin'.

Two alleged thieves were unpleasantly surprised when they broke into a police surveillance van with an officer inside waiting for them, authorities say. Officer Jessie Watts Jr. was assigned to stake out the commuter parking lot in a South Shore Railroad station in Chicago after several reports of stereos and personal items being stolen from cars parked there.

His job got a lot easier last Wednesday when he saw two men get out of their car and start to case the vehicles, said Robert Byrd, police chief for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the South Shore Railroad.

Watts saw the men look into the car windows and tug on door handles, and he ducked down as the two approached his minivan, the police department said.

"Suddenly, the offenders turned their attention towards our undercover surveillance vehicle," Byrd said.

"Officer Watts was inside waiting for them."

When the men opened the sliding door, Watt jumped out with his gun pointed at them, Byrd said. They arrested Robinson Morales, 25, and Fiore Petrassi, 20, and charged them with theft, attempted theft, and criminal trespass.

Police also reported recovering several car stereos and burglary tools.

Detective Issues Alert Based on Onion Joke Web Site

C O L D W A T E R, Mich. — When Detective Dan Nichols issued a news release on telemarketing scams, he decided to mention a news report about a possible al Qaeda terrorist connection.

The only problem was his source was the Onion, a satirical humor Web site known for joke headlines such as "Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeros," and "ACLU Defends Nazis' Right to Burn Down ACLU Headquarters."

The detective said state officials directed him to the story.

"I had talked to the attorney general's office and they referred me to this news 'Onion' thing — so I read that over and put some of that in," Nichols said.

"I read the story but I didn't even see where came from."

Representatives of the attorney general's office told the Battle Creek Enquirer they never linked to the site.

The Onion item — "Report: Al-Qaeda Allegedly Engaging in Telemarketing" — described a purported CIA announcement linking Osama bin Laden's terror network to annoying sales calls hawking aluminum siding and long-distance phone service.

"Among the victims of al-Qaeda's telemarketing efforts is Coral Gables, FL, retiree Bernice Parks, who last Friday spent nearly 45 minutes trying to say no to a pushy aluminum-siding salesman who identified himself only as 'Mohammed,' only to give in and order full siding for her home," the Onion wrote.

In his news release, Nicholas duly included the Onion item.

"In the course of this investigation, it was learned that this is going on throughout the United States and some of these programs are believed to be operated by," he wrote.

Nicholas said his mistake has made him the target of some ribbing, but that no real damage was done.

"If that's the worst thing I do in my career I'm doing pretty good."

The Onion tripped up the Beijing Evening News last June with its story, "Congress Threatens to Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Built." The Chinese newspaper repeated the story, complete with the Onion's graphic, showing a proposal for a new retractable-roof Capitol.

Crime Blotter, a weekly feature of, is compiled by Oliver Libaw.