By LARRY McSHANE, Associated Press Writer
There's nobody nice on this Christmas list: snowman stabbers, Grinch snatchers, wreath-robbing weasels. 'Tis the season for strange crimes by even stranger people, with police blotters expanding faster than a 6-year-old's wish list of gifts.
David Allen Rodgers, 42, was arrested Dec. 3 for driving while intoxicated - at the wheel of a float during the annual Christmas parade in Anderson, S.C. According to witnesses, Rodgers sped down Main Street in the Steppin' Out Dance Studio float with 19 people aboard, ran a red light and led police on a 3-mile chase.
Police said that when Rodgers finally stopped, they found an open container of alcohol in his truck. "I made a very bad judgment on my part," Rodgers said at a court hearing.
In Chicago, 32 plastic baby Jesus dolls were stolen from nativity scenes set up in people's front yards. The kidnappers then lined up all the dolls along the fence outside a Chicago woman's home; she rounded them up and turned them over to her parish priest.
Similar creche crimes occurred in 35 cities from Fayateville, N.C., to Mission Viejo, Calif., according to The Catholic League, which tracks nativity vandalism.
In Houghton, Mich., somebody stole an inflatable Grinch from outside an apartment complex. That was just one instance in the area's rash of seasonal thievery: Two brown plastic reindeer, a baby Jesus statue and several wreaths were also stolen.
In Ohio's Hamilton County, a pair of 18-year-olds were arrested for using screwdrivers to stab an inflatable 12-foot-tall Frosty the Snowman. "Why me?" asked Frosty's owner, Matt Williquette. "And why Frosty?"
The snowman had survived two previous stabbing attacks.
Two other local teens were arrested in an unrelated incident where they allegedly smashed a car with a large decorative candy cane, causing $1,000 worth of damage.
An Oklahoma woman was arrested after she visited the Delaware County Jail with a Christmas card for her incarcerated boyfriend. Police said the card held marijuana, leading to Dawn Smith's arrest.
A real-life Grinch in Yonkers, N.Y., made off with $14,000 in staff bonuses and money from the office safe during a Christmas party, police said. Daniel Rios, 38, spent $7,500 in cash but returned about $6,500 in checks, authorities said.
And then there's the case of the Santa Claus kidnapping.
A motorcycle-riding Santa Claus with a stuffed Rudolph in his sidecar was arrested after allegedly grabbing an 8-year-old girl from outside a South Carolina convenience store. John Michael Barton, 55, was in his Claus outfit filling his bike with gas when the girl's family stopped by the store.
The girl's father then saw Barton speeding off with her. After a chase at speeds of up to 80 mph, Barton pulled over his motorcycle and turned over the girl, police said.