I've always liked local newspapers. (I even worked for one in high school.) But easily my favorite thing about them -- except for their quirky, homespun movie reviews, maybe -- is the police blotter. If you really want to get your finger on the pulse of a community, I always say, read the blotter. It's actually some poor j-school grad's job to write it; they go down to the police precinct, look over stacks of records for the week and pick, choose and rewrite the juiciest bits into a few reader-friendly column inches. A quick browse will let you know where it's a bad idea to park your car overnight, which bar has the best fistfights, and which of your neighbors are having marriage problems of the chair-throwing variety.

Reveling in the fun that the blotter can sometimes be, a lot of papers will run a "best of" at the end of the year, featuring the weirdest, funniest and sometimes the most horrifying crimes of the past 12 months. I've collected some of my favorites from around the country for 2008. Enjoy -- and be safe out there!

The Palm Beach Post

Location, location, location

Just before 5:30 p.m., a caller from the 2400 block of Marina Isle Way said that several people walked into her residence claiming to be Realtors. It appeared that nothing was missing from her home but officers still went to investigate. The intruder was a real estate agent who was showing the wrong residence. He meant to go to the home next door.

Food fight

An 88-year-old man was charged with misuse of 911 for calling it to report that his roommate was eating his food. Police had responded to the man's home on the 600 block of Juniper Place for similar calls 89 times this year.

Three's Company

During a ménage à trois in the 12200 block of Lakeshore Drive in Canal Point, a woman became upset that the man's performance was better with the other woman. The man began to punch the upset woman in the face. She also received scratches to a wrist and forefinger. The man denied any physical confrontation with the victim. The victim refused medical treatment and said that she and the man had been drinking and smoking crack cocaine all evening.

And if you believe that...

A woman found an unknown man sleeping with her 19-year-old daughter in the 1100 block of Northwest 13th Street. The daughter was evasive as to how he got there, eventually saying that he must have come in the window while she was sleeping.

Atlanta Constitution

Soul Games

A 30-year-old man said he got home from work and found a checker/chess board in front of his apartment on Piedmont Avenue. A note was taped to the board. It read: "To [the man] from Satan. Welcome to hell. Play with me and you'll see the dead. It's not in your head Satan."

Turns out the game board came from the lobby of the apartment complex.

The man said he didn't know who was responsible for the threatening note/game board. Also, the man said he had been in conflict with evil spirits prior to this incident.

Making the Grade

A 21-year-old man walked into a high school on Hutchens Street and tried to enroll. A school employee informed the man that he could not enroll in the school. So, the man walked to the front of the school, took off all his clothes and said he would have sex with another man to get into the school. (He offered to have sex with a specific man, not another man in general.)

The school employee was able to put the man's clothes back on and detain him until police arrived. The man was charged with indecency and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital's psychiatric ward.

Doctor Good Hurt

A woman said she went to her dentist's office on Broad Street. The dentist asked if she was following his cleaning instructions for her earlier procedure. "No," the woman said. According to the woman, a dental assistant came into the room and held her down. Then, she said, the dentist operated on her without using painkillers. When the dentist was finished, they let the woman up and asked her again if she was following the dentist's instructions for cleaning.

The woman left the dentist's office and called police.

Shotgun wedding

A married couple got into a spat at their home on Westboro Drive. According to the husband, it started when his wife asked him to take her out to eat. The husband, 51, said their money was running low and it would be better if they made a meal from the food in the refrigerator. His wife got furious, he said. She grabbed a handgun from the back bedroom and said, "If you don't want to take me to get something to eat, you ain't takin' nobody to get anything to eat." Then she walked onto the porch and shot the front tire on their Toyota Camry. The husband recently had a heart transplant and the "least excitement can cause irreversible damage," according to the police report.

The wife was jailed for assault.

Ratted out

Police responded to a call about a man lying in the roadway on Cheshire Bridge Road. The man told police he was kidnapped by flesh-eating people that would defecate rats -- the rats would then become people. Then the man said his name was Joshualamb Getto (which, of course, wasn't his real name). An ambulance arrived, but the man said he didn't need medical attention.

Police eventually identified the man, who is 36. The man was completely sober at the time of arrest.

Denver

Police arrest film students

Officers responded to a report of a bleeding victim and a gunman in the parking lot of Qdoba at 28th Street and Arapahoe Avenue on March 9. When they arrived, they determined that a group of CU students were filming a class project. The blood was fake, as were three realistic-looking replica plastic guns. An incident report was completed and police from the University of Colorado at Boulder were notified.

[At USC film school, this is exactly why the profs would never let us use guns in our films without (expensive) weapons wranglers on set.]

Hot air balloon gets stuck

Officers responded at about 6:15 p.m. July 2 to a hot air balloon stuck in a tree at 63rd Street and Pine Avenue with parties suspended above ground. Firefighters and sheriff's deputies arrived first and determined that the accident location was in the county. There were no injuries reported.

The Haverford and Bryn Mawr Bi-College News

Sunday, November 9, 1997

Haverford. Two HC students were caught operating the boom of a backhoe at the rear of Hall Building. They nearly struck others with the boom as it swung around. Two fire extinguishers were emptied and the taillight lens of the backhoe was broken. Other students fled from the scene; this incident was referred to the Dean's Office for adjudication.

Thursday, February 19, 1998

8:16 p.m. Haverford. A faculty member reported a man kissing and hugging trees in the vicinity of the Duck Pond. This tree-lover was not found.

What's good for the goose ...

4:21 p.m. Haverford. A visitor reported finding the head of a goose on Merion Field. Officers investigated and discovered the decapitated head of a goose planted in a hole in the center of the field. Lower Merion Police were called to take a report.

Tuesday, October 12, 1999

3:23 p.m. Haverford. The Edy's ice cream machine was reported missing from the west wing of the Dining Center. It was found inside the handicapped rest room where all of the ice cream had spoiled. The cover of the machine was found on the roof of the DC, and a goldfish was found inside a 5 gallon water dispenser.

Lake Oswego Review

6/23/08 4:16 p.m. A child called police to say his or her mother wouldn't let them leave the house.

3/18/08 12:26 p.m. A woman identified only as Ruth called police to say she was "stuck in a hole," according to a police report. Police found she was stuck between a couch and chair and helped her out.

6/10/08 10:55 a.m. A man called police to say he'd been buying drugs from bad people.

6/25/08 2:55 a.m. An apparent domestic squabble in a car on Highway 217 turned out to be two men and a woman having a tickle fight. Police located the trio in a hot tub at a hotel.

7/8/08 9:36 p.m. Children on Eaglecrest Drive were told by police to do what their mother says.

8/2/08 8:27 p.m. People were pretending to fornicate in a driveway on Lords Lane.

8/17/08 9:38 p.m. A woman who was threatened on the phone was not really in danger, police found, just enduring the ire of a son-in-law after she informed his wife of an apparent weight problem.

8/27/08 4:00 p.m. A man seen pouring liquor into a water bottle on Fourth Street told police this was to hide it from his wife. She knows now.

9/11/08 2:57 p.m. A local woman kept receiving calls from people asking about transgender clothing.

9/12/08 8:44 a.m. Police released a bicycle and a ukulele to their owner who, inexplicably, lost both at the same time.

11/30/08 7:13 a.m. Police were summoned to help with an out-of-control 11 year old who was upset over that night's proposed dinner selections.