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The skinny

Police follow escapee via his Facebook page

Police reports

Police have a lot of luck catching criminals using Facebook, but one British criminal is using the social network to taunt those chasing him. Craig "Lazie" Lynch, 28, escaped from a minimum-security prison in southern England in September and has since built a following of more than 3,800 virtual friends who follow him in his attempts to elude capture. On Christmas, he posted a photo of himself holding a turkey in one hand and showing a different kind of bird with the other in a message to police. His followers post best wishes, mostly, though some remind the others they are cheering for a convicted burglar. To squash romantic notions of Lynch's escape, police remind his fans that he escaped a converted college. "Basically it's an open prison," said spokeswoman Anne-Marie Breach. "(Inmates) can virtually walk out."

Stolen game leads police to burglar

Police in Pelham, N.Y., raided the home of Jeremiah Gilliam, 22, last week and arrested him on charges involving several recent burglaries. And they say it was an item from one of those burglaries that led them to him. It seems a recent burglary victim lost an Xbox video game system. When he signed on to play on another Xbox, he found that he was already signed on. He called police, who traced the Internet protocol of the stolen game to Gilliam's house. "At the house, we found Xboxes, PlayStations, GPS units, laptops — a total of 53 items, including stolen credit cards," Pelham Detective John Hynes told the New York Post. Gilliam was suspected in 13 burglaries, but police think the stolen property came from as many as 200.

Christmas trees can't multitask

An 18-year-old in San Clemente, Calif., was hospitalized with head injuries after a surfing accident. A surfing accident in December? Well, yes, because it wasn't your standard surfing. It was an extremely seasonal form in which really dumb people tie a Christmas tree to the back of a vehicle then ride on it as it's being dragged. Police say that the tree veered into a parked car when the SUV pulling it took a hard corner. The driver fled after impact, but strangely, a second surfer and two passengers say they didn't know the driver. Tricky. The injured surfer is expected to survive, and police suggest never tree surfing.

Big blue teddy bear a smuggler

It is not unusual for Toy Town in Ladera Ranch, Calif., to get a package of toys. But when owner Joshua Vecchione opened up a package last week and found a 2-foot-tall blue teddy bear, he was a little perplexed. Especially since it was "hard and crinkly," which is not what he usually looks for in teddy bear inventory. He noticed that he was not the addressee, but that his store was listed as the return address. Then he called police. When they cut it open, they found three packages of marijuana inside the bear. "Some mix-up took place," Vecchione said.

Compiled from Times wire services and other sources by staff writer Jim Webster, who can be reached at jwebster@sptimes.com.

Police follow escapee via his Facebook page 12/29/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 1:06am]

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