Convicted drug smuggler Mike Gielen, 24, hired a helicopter at Deurne airport near Antwerp, Belgium, on Sept. 25, then hijacked the aircraft midflight and forced the pilot to fly to Berkendaal women's prison south of Brussels to free his wife, Kristel Appelt, 27, who is being held on suspicion of murdering an ex-boyfriend, the Guardian reported. As inmates cheered and waved below, the pilot circled the prison yard, trying unsuccessfully to land before giving up and flying off. Authorities arrested Gielen and several accomplices within 24 hours when they discovered he had used his real name to hire the helicopter. "It seems the whole thing has been staged quite amateurishly," remarked Tom van Overbeke, Gielen's attorney.
A different kind of shooting
Hillsborough County (Fla.) sheriff's deputies responding to reports of a domestic violence situation on Sept. 23 arrived at the apartment of Devon Garnett, 26, to find Garnett and two friends, fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning, watching Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Neighbors had become alarmed after hearing shouts of "Shoot! Shoot!" and "I dare you to shoot!" just before 8:30 that evening, reported the Associated Press. The deputies "thought there were guns in the house," said Garnett, who told them, "Nope, we're just screaming for Steven Stamkos."
Bad behavior set in stone
CNN reports a 32-year-old Irishman was charged with vandalism after being caught on Sept. 21 carving his initials into a pillar on the first floor of the Colosseum in Rome. The structure, which has stood for two millennia, is a World Heritage Site, and Italian law calls for a hefty fine or prison sentence for damaging a historical and artistic landmark. Archaeologist Federica Rinaldi, who is responsible for the Colosseum, suggested it would be better to "take a selfie" than to carve into the amphitheater's walls.
Police rough up typewriters
Keith Bebonis knows a secret about the Chicago Police Department, reported the Chicago Sun-Times on Sept. 25: They still use typewriters. Bebonis knows because he repairs them when the officers "abuse" them. "Police officers, in general, are very heavy typists," said Bebonis, 46, who carries on the business his dad started in the late 1960s, Bebon Office Machines and Supplies. He contracts every year to repair 40 to 50 IBM Wheelwriters — early word-processing machines that can store a few pages' worth of data. "I don't want it to seem like I'm saying they're taking their frustrations out on the typewriter," Bebonis said. "But they're just not very sensitive with these machines."
It's good to have a hobby
Calling himself "Britain's dullest man," Kevin Beresford, 68, of Redditch, is the founder of the Roundabout Appreciation Society and has traveled all over the country for the past 17 years, searching for the best traffic circles, which he memorializes in calendars with photos of his favorites. His hobby began when he ran a printing company that created calendars for clients every year, he told BirminghamLive, and they jokingly created a roundabout calendar. Since then, this self-described "Lord of the Rings" has expanded his interests to car parks. "I started the Car Park Appreciation Society 10 years ago, but nobody has joined," he said. "It's a bit sad."
Send your weird news items with subject line Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com.