The Staten Island Zoo is weathering a storm of controversy over the annual prediction made by its resident groundhog, Staten Island Chuck, on Feb. 2. Chuck popped up on a Facebook "livestream" at the designated time and day, but something seemed ... off. After hours of accumulating snow in the New York area, the New York Post reported, Chuck emerged into bright sunlight and no snow on the ground, his handlers wearing sweatshirts. "So there ya have it, folks, we're gonna have an early spring," announced Ken Mitchell, the zoo's executive director. Viewers weren't fooled, one commenting, "Welppp this isn't live." Previous Groundhog Day celebrations have also raised a ruckus. In 2014, the stand-in groundhog Charlotte died after being dropped by Mayor Bill de Blasio, and in 2009, Chuck bit Mayor Mike Bloomberg's finger.
Least competent criminals
Edner Flores, 34, entered a PNC Bank branch in Chicago on Jan. 27 and allegedly tried to rob it by handing a teller a note stating that he wanted $10,000, with "no die [sic] packs," and that he was armed, a federal criminal complaint said. The teller activated a silent alarm and told the man to fill out a blue withdrawal slip, which he did, then asked for his ATM card. The helpful Flores instead produced a temporary Illinois state ID card, authorities said. WMAQ-TV reported that police arrived while Flores was still at the window, arrested him and found a knife in his jacket.
From molehill to mountain
Roger Broadstone, 67, was at home in Twining, Mich., when state police officers arrived on Jan. 20 to investigate allegations of $1,500 worth of merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, but he refused to let them in without a search warrant, WJRT-TV reported. When the troopers returned with the warrant, they found the illegally purchased items, but they also found that Broadstone had barricaded himself inside and allegedly set a booby trap designed to harm the officers. Broadstone was charged with two counts related to the credit card transaction, and 16 counts related to the confrontation with authorities, including five counts of attempted murder.
Oh, that old thing?
Italian police arrested an unnamed 36-year-old in Naples on Jan. 16 on suspicion of receiving stolen goods and found a 500-year-old copy of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvatore Mundi," a painting they returned to the museum it belonged to, surprising museum officials, who had no idea it was missing. The painting is part of the Doma Museum collection at the San Domenico Maggiore church in Naples, where the room in which it had hung "has not been open for three months," Naples prosecutor Giovanni Melillo told the Guardian. The copy was made by Giacomo Alibrandi in the early 1500s.
Party needs a shot in the arm
Authorities in Essex County, England, received a tip on Jan. 16 and arrived at the Freemasons' Saxon Hall expecting to put an end to the illegal "rave" reported to be happening, but instead of loud music and wild teens, officers found elderly people lining up to get COVID-19 vaccines, Echo News reported. Dennis Baum, chairman of the hall, said things got testy when the vaccine was late arriving: "It was absolute chaos. ... The car park became chock a block with 80-year-old-plus drivers." Police remained to help with the traffic.
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