Monday, April 15, 2013

Apple #632: Noteworthy Thievings

I don't know if you've noticed, but there have been some pretty unusual thefts in the news lately.  I don't mean to condone or even praise theft because it royally stinks when someone steals from you.  But these are too oddball to resist passing along.

1. Cookie Monster Holds Giant Cookie for Ransom

  • In January of this year, someone claiming to be Cookie Monster stole a giant 44-pound golden statue of a cookie in Hanover, Germany.
  • The cookie in question is the Leibniz square butter cookie made by Bahlsen. They're a big favorite in Germany, kind of like the Oreo is in the United States.
  • The company immortalized their tasty butter cookie in gold and hung the giant cookie over its corporate headquarters.  It's been hanging there since 1913.

A package of the Leibniz butter cookies, this variety coated in chocolate.
(Photo from i can't even's tumblr page)

Above, the figures in the statue holding the golden cookie between them. Below, the golden cookie is gone!
(Photo from Gawker)

  • Police said witnesses saw two men dressed in dark overalls taking the cookie in broad daylight.  One of the climbed a ladder and took it down while the other stayed below to take the hand-off.
  • The person who stole the golden cookie sent a ransom note saying "I have the biscuit!"  The ransom note is signed Krümel Monster (Cookie Monster in German).
  • What were the Krümel Monster's demands?  That cookies should be given to all the children in a nearby hospital.  But only "those [cookies] with milk chocolate, not those with dark chocolate and not those without chocolate. And a golden biscuit for the child cancer ward."  The Krümel Monster knows that most children prefer milk over dark chocolate.
  • Also, in response to Bahlsen's offer of €1,000 (~$1,400) for information about who was in that Krümel Monster suit, the Krümel Monster said Bahlsen should donate the reward money to the local animal shelter.
  • The punishment if the demands weren't met?  The golden cookie would wind up with Oscar the Grouch in the dustbin.
  • The ransom got enough notice that Sesame Street heard about it.  The real Cookie Monster tweeted that he wasn't the thief.  "Me no steal the golden cookie. But me willing to help find real cookie thief!"  Pretty good typing for having only 3 furry fingers per hand.
  • The company said it wouldn't be blackmailed and told the thieves, "Give us our cookie back."
  • Days later, Bahlsen received a second ransom note along with a photo of one of the thieves dressed in a (rather bad imitation) Cookie Monster suit and taking a bite out of the golden cookie. 

The Krümel Monster's photo and second ransom note
(Image from Gawker)

  • This was more than Bahlsen's CEO could stand, apparently, because he then promised to give 52,000 packages of cookies to 52 different charities.  Why 52, I don't know.  Maybe for the number of weeks in a year?
  • A week later the golden biscuit was found -- hanging around the neck of a statue of a horse in front of Leibniz University.  The cookie was a little bit bent and dinged, but otherwise intact.  In other words, there was not a bite out of it.

The golden cookie, wrapped with a nice red bow, hanging around the neck of a statue in front of Leibniz University in Hanover. 
(Photo posted by Tintin at David

  • Not long after the cookie was recovered, the company received yet another note.  This was also made with cut-out letters, and it reminded the company it still had to make good on its promise to donate cookies to children, and to make sure the cookies are the kind with chocolate.  Accompanying the note was a photo of the Krümel Monster playing in the snow.
  • A lot of people thought this all might be an elaborate publicity stunt put on by the cookie company, but a few days later, a German TV station posted on its website an interview with four people whose identities were concealed -- including the one was dressed in a Cookie Monster suit -- who said they were behind the theft. They held up what they said was proof -- the original ransom note.
  • At last report, police said they were still investigating, and they released a photo of an investigator examining the giant golden cookie under a microscope.
  • The company is in the process of making good on its promise.  It invited charities to apply to the company to be given free cookies -- 1,400 groups did so -- and Bahlsen has recently announced which 52 charities will receive the cookies.  The charities include groups that help kindergarteners, children's hospitals and hospices, to supporting physically disabled children, children in special education, children in need, YMCAs -- all sorts of groups.
  • Not bad, Krümel Monster, not bad.

2. Five Tons of  Nutella Stolen

  • This one happened in Germany, too.  Last week, thieves stole 7 palettes of Nutella jars.  That's about  €16,000 (~$21,000) worth of the yummy, gooey, chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Nutella is made by Ferrero in Italy, is a huge hit in Europe, and is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Basically, you eat it like peanut butter. Except it's chocolate & hazelnut. Yum.
(Photo from Foodbeast)

  • The thieves broke into a parked trailer where the jars were stored and took the palettes.  Apparently, the area where the theft occurred (Niederaula, northeast of Frankfort) is a common weekend stopover point for truck drivers.
  • Other large-quantity thefts have occurred there recently, including 5 tons of coffee stolen in March, and 34,000 cans of Red Bull taken last August.
  • Or, maybe the theft is related to the insatiable desire for Nutella at Columbia University.  Last month, it became such the fad for Columbia students to eat Nutella that the student body was were going through an estimated 100 pounds of it per day. (That estimate is highly speculative. Some say it's way too high, others say it's way too low.)
  • Students were sneaking the jars out of the dining hall all sorts of ways -- under their shirts, in soup containers, in their bookbags.  They stole enough jars of Nutella that it cost the dining hall $5,000 to restock its Nutella jars the first week.
  • It became news when a freshman posted a message on a facebook page for Columbia freshman asking people "don't take more than you need at one meal."  I'm not sure if he meant "don't steal" or if he was really saying, "don't steal too much."
  • He did mean to say that if people keep stealing the good stuff, the dining services might stop selling any good stuff, which apparently made people panic that they the dining halls would cut out the Nutella, and the thefts only increased. 

One reviewer on Amazon said, "Words cannot express how much I love this spread. It is highly addicting so eating an entire jar in one sitting is easy."
(Photo from Your Internet Life Base)

  • Well, it's doubtful that the theft in Germany and the rash of thefts at Columbia are related, except that people love Nutella.  

3. Thief Stole an Excavator to Steal an ATM

  • This one is not food-related, but it's pretty unusual.  In Winston-Salem, NC, at 1:00 in the morning, someone stole an excavator from a construction site, drove it about 200 yards, and used the excavator to literally knock over an ATM kiosk.

A pretty typical excavator -- a Case CX470C, to be exact.  The specs say it has operating weights ranging from 105,300 to 108,600 pounds. That sounds about strong enough to lift an ATM.  I'd like to learn how to operate one of those things.
(Photo from Aggregates Manager)

This is the literally knocked-over ATM kiosk, now without its ATM.
(Photo by Aaron Glancy/WGHP)

  • Using the excavator's claw, the thief picked up the 2,000-pound ATM and dropped it into "a waiting vehicle" and then drove off with the ATM.  I'm thinking that vehicle must have been a pick-up, but the reports don't get more specific than that.
  • The still photos from a surveillance camera do show a white male who had to stretch to reach for the excavator's steering wheel, so they think he might have been short. The camera also captured a black Crown Victoria with tinted windows parked nearby.

Surveillance photo of the nearby Crown Victoria.
(Photo from WGHP)  

  • I don't know if this was once a police car, but Crown Vics have been tailor-made for police cars for decades.
  • So what do you think, is the suspect an ex-cop?  Or a cop-wanna-be?  And could a Crown Vic carry an ATM?  
  • Police do want anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800.

4. Supposedly Stolen Tortoise Hidden in an Elevator

  • This one has a happy ending.  In early April, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (which is not in Mississippi but rather in Dubuque, Iowa) put out a notice that its African leopard tortoise named Cashew had been stolen.

Cashew weighs 18 pounds, and her exhibit is surrounded by a four-foot clear plastic wall.
(Photo by Katlyn R. Gerken, National Mississippi River Museum)

  • Two days later, a visitor discovered Cashew riding an elevator in the museum building.
  • At first the aquarium speculated that whoever stole Cashew later repented and put her in an elevator and left.
  • But it was later revealed that a staff member found the tortoise wedged behind a museum wall. Embarrassed at having told everyone the tortoise was stolen when in fact they'd just lost track of her, the staff member put Cashew into an elevator to make it appear that she'd been taken and returned by a thief.
  • Fortunately, the aquarium says, Cashew does not appear to be especially stressed by the incident.  Heck, she was probably happy to get out and ride the elevator for a change.

German 'Cookie Monster' Holds Giant Golden Biscuit Ransom, Time, February 4, 2013 
Thief Who Stole Iconic Golden Cookie Releases Amazing Ransom Note Demanding Cookies for All the Sick Kids in Town, Gawker, undated
Relief after Hanover Find: Police Retrieve Missing Cookie, Der Spiegel, February 5, 2013
A Giant Gold Cookie Goes Missing, Sets Off Monster Investigation, The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2013
Thieves steal five tons of Nutella, The Telegraph, April 8, 2013
On Campus, Costly Target of Brazen Thefts: Nutella, The New York Times, March 6, 2013
Man used stolen construction equipment to steal from ATM, (WGHP), April 8, 2013
Excavator Stolen, used to Steal 2,000-Pound ATM in North Carolina, Huffington Post, April 8, 2013
NC Police: ATM Picked up by Excavator, Stolen, ABCNews, April 9, 2013
Cashew the Stolen Tortoise Discovered Chilling in Elevator, RYOT, April 5, 2013
Cashew the Tortoise is Found, KCRG, April 4, 2013
African Leopard Tortoise Cashew Was Never Stolen, NPR, April 8, 2013

1 comment:

  1. I assume you don't actually mean palettes, thin boards for mixing paint, but really pallets, platforms used to store materials so they can be moved by forklifts, of Nutella.

    Now that I think of it, the lowly pallet, ubiquitous and indispensable, would be a great Daily Apple if you haven't already done that.


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