Janesville63.2°

Strange crimes: Officials recall odd cases

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
April 16, 2010
— Everybody in Walworth County law enforcement seems to have a favorite, weird case.

District Attorney Phil Koss was quick to remember Nicholas Weber.


It was October 2009 when Whitewater police received a complaint of a burglary. Weber, the victim said, had seemed interested in her Xbox 360. So she was suspicious of him when the videogame system went missing.


“The police went to talk to him, and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry. It was wrong of me to do that. Here are the Xbox and the games,’” the Walworth County district attorney recalled.


Weber, who was 20 at the time, was cooperative and seemed repentant, Koss said. Whitewater police forwarded charges to the DA’s Office, but the perpetrator wasn’t taken into custody.


A few days later, another friend of Weber’s called police with a complaint of a missing Xbox.


Officers visited Weber again.


“Police asked him, ‘Didn’t we just talk to you three days ago?’” Koss recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, I learned my lesson, it wasn’t me.’”


But when police searched Weber’s closet, they found an Xbox, the second Weber had stolen in less than 10 days.


Some cases don’t make the careers of prosecutors and law enforcement officials, but they are remembered for different reasons.


Elkhorn Police Chief Joel Christensen remembers the case years ago of an underwear thief.


“We had someone enter someone else’s house and take some female undergarments,” Christensen said. “That was one of the more peculiar thefts we ever investigated.”


More recently, Elkhorn police investigated the theft of two chicken statues from the Walworth County Fairgrounds. The chickens weren’t terribly expensive, but they had sentimental value to the community.


For some reason, the community’s attachment to the statues added a degree of interest to criminal minds, Christensen said.


He said people sometimes steal small personal objects of little resale value, such as a Buddha ornament stolen last year.


Delavan’s police chief remembers similar burglaries.


“Sometimes they are antique statues of some sort that a lot of people would view as junk,” Delavan Chief Tim O’Neill said. “But it’s certainly important to the victim. What’s strange about it is how it is important to the burglar, though there is no clear motive.


Assistant District Attorney Steve Madson’s fondest memory of a weird case is one he prosecuted in Brown County years ago. It was dubbed the “dental floss escape.”


Two inmates at a state prison had collected enough dental floss to create two 21-foot ropes about the diameter of a man’s pinky finger, the prosecutor recalled. They used the ropes to make a rustic ladder using pens as steps.


One of the inmates actually made it out of the facility.


“The fun part of the trial was showing all the effort that went into this crime,” he said. “They even had special jackets with crackers, cheese and meat, and were ready to make their escape.


“Of course, it didn’t take the jury very long to convict them.”



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