Has anybody ever noticed the prevalence of crazy stories coming out of the Sunshine State? Florida’s freedom of information laws makes it easy for journalists to access information about arrests and police reports, filling up local news with stories crass and crazy. It’s become a meme in itself, with Twitter accounts dedicated to cataloging the phenomenon. It’s no wonder, considering the state hosts 20 million residents and 100 million annual visitors alongside a cacophony of alligators, insects, pythons, and wild peacocks. Besides elderly drivers, America’s Sweetheart (rapper Pitbull), and Mickey Mouse, there’s a lot of daily craziness that pops out of the peninsula thanks to the freedom of information laws that aren’t necessarily respectful to the privacy of regular folks. But hey, if it’s entertaining, who cares if it’s ethical, right?
Even though the antics in the elbow of America can get pretty crazy, it’s surprising how funny and family friendly some of the news stories that come out are. For every crazy dude waving around a machete or every alligator attack, there’s a story about somebody dressing up in an animal costume and trying to commit a crime. In this list, we have two. Here are 19 hilarious news stories that have come out of the Sunshine State recently. Each one is totally true.
19 That Time Two Dudes Dressed In A Bull Onesie Tried Burning Down A House With... Spaghetti Sauce?
Two Flordian men were caught red-handed trying to burn down the apartment of the ex of one of the accused, all the while donning bull onesies. I guess the relationship didn’t end well. Police arrested the pair speeding away from the crime scene and discovered a burning pot of spaghetti sauce had been left on the stove.
The ex told reporters that the accused were “trying to make it look like I left the stove on, but who gets up at 2 a.m. and fixes sketti?"
The victim also lost a TV set and an air conditioning unit in the robbery. While this case has all the fixings of a perfect crime, we have a lot of questions. Bull onesie? Spaghetti sauce? Do people really call it “sketti”?
18 When A Man Stole A Car With A Baby Inside & Left The Baby At A Gas Station
What would be any mother’s nightmare ended happily for this Palm Beach mom. After her car was stolen from a gas station with her baby still strapped inside, the thief drove to a different gas station to drop off the baby. The baby, by all accounts, was peacefully asleep. While police did eventually recover the vehicle, the would-be-kidnapper is still at large. For those who are considering stealing a car to drive a short distance, we would advise you to check out Uber, Lyft, or use a traditional taxi service. For the more eco-minded, perhaps cycling? Stealing a car is bad enough, but accidentally kidnapping a baby is inadvisable even under the worst circumstances. At least this man had the clarity of mind to pass the baby off to somebody more equipped! You know what they say about how it takes a village to raise a child.
17 A Department Of Citrus (Yes, That's A Real Thing) Used State Computers To Generate Bitcoin
Did you know Florida has a Department of Citrus? Caught up in the Bitcoin craze, a Tampa Bay employee of the Department was arrested after using state computers to harvest Bitcoin.
The man allegedly used state funding to buy powerful computers in order to bolster his efforts, causing utility bills to jump by hundreds of dollars – talk about a red flag!
Besides wasting company time on what basically amounts to gambling, the Department estimates he used nearly $22,000 of taxpayer money to fund his operation. While the word is still out on how well his Bitcoin operation did, he, unfortunately, lost his most regular means of income: His job. If Orange Is The New Black taught me anything about prison, it’s that he’ll probably spend more of his time there trading toothbrushes for gum than mining for Bitcoin, but I honestly have no idea how Bitcoin works. Wild.
16 Who Can Forget The Guy Who Thought God Was Telling Him To Burn Down Churches
This St. Petersburg man was arrested for arson after being caught setting fire to two local churches. His reasoning? God told him to. The churches were thankfully empty at the time of the fires and security footage of the man went locally viral thanks to Facebook. While he may have interrupted the most important Christian holiday of the year (sorry, Christmas, but you know it’s true), it’s unclear as to what he was trying to achieve by burning down the community churches. This, of course, isn’t the first time a regular man has claimed to have spoken to directly the Most High. A cursory Google search will turn up dozens of results of similar people doing crazy things according to divine will, only to end up in prison… Maybe somebody out there is trying to tell us something.
15 That Time A Guy Was Arrested For Pretending To Be A Doctor On Instagram
Can we blame Kylie Jenner for this? After her lip injections sparked a Juvederm renaissance, thousands of accounts appeared on Instagram of doctors promoting their work. One Miami-area man was arrested at the beginning of March for posing as a physician on Instagram, calling himself the “master injector”. While he wasn’t living the luxurious lifestyle of a Miami cosmetic surgeon, he kept a steady feed of photos showing his clients receiving injections and other minor procedures from his office.
He didn’t go completely unnoticed, however, as other doctors operating in the same practice believed he may have been lying about his credentials.
While we’re not qualified to give medical advice, we think that perhaps it’s best to avoid looking for lip injections at a discount price.
14 A Crazy Woman Passed Out On A Goat & Got Arrested For Mistreatment Of Animals
After an over-indulgent night in, Jan Strickland of Pensacola was arrested after running away from her family gathering, finding a goat in a barn, and affectionately holding a goat. In her merry state, she passed out on top of the goat. When her nephew attempted to intervene and remove the goat from her tender loving arms, she became violent and attacked the nephew. After calling the police, Strickland was found sleeping in the barn. She attempted to attack officers, who subsequently arrested her. Maybe she was trying to cash in on some cheap Goat Yoga? The trendy form of yoga has been a great way for Floridian goat farmers to make extra money and finds its basis in animal therapy. Perhaps she’ll be able to profit from that after her sentencing.
13 That Time A Lady Was Attacked By A Wild Otter
Don’t let the fun picture fool you! Otters are very vicious animals. Sue Spector of Bradenton knows this all too well, after being the unfortunate victim of a ferocious otter attack on the Braden River. What should have been a lovely day kayaking with friends turned into an absolute nightmare when she was swarmed by otters bent on destruction. Thankfully, she was not horrifically injured beyond a knick on her nose – they’re not monkeys, after all – and will be able to return to kayaking as soon as she can stomach it.
Otter attacks are increasingly common in the Sunshine State, with multiple reports of attacks on both humans and pets.
If you’re bringing your small dogs or grandmothers to Miami, make sure they’re on high alert for any potential rabid animals! Are we sensing the beginning of a revolution?
12 When Florida Police Arrested A Woman & She Bit A Cop's Leg
After being arrested in a stolen SUV, Hillsborough County resident Ellen Pride slipped free from her handcuffs and bit a police officer on the leg. Even though he was wearing pants, he was still slightly injured. Besides facing charges for stealing the vehicle, she will also face charges for resisting arrest, as well as violence and battery on law enforcement officers. We’d like to think that she was just exercising her right to remain silent, but it’s difficult to tell how she thought she might manage after successfully biting the officer. Maybe she thought he’d change his mind and let her drive off in the stolen vehicle? This isn’t even the latest case of a lady biting a cop in the Sunshine State, with public arrest records revealing this is a relatively common occurrence.
11 A Florida Woman Literally Paid A $500 Bill In Pennies
There’s a trend online of people who have been struck with large utility bills of going to pay their bills with buckets of pennies. There’s a similar trend of people trying to pay for items in luxury stores, like Gucci or Louis Vuitton, with buckets of pennies.
No such exception to this trend is Deltona resident Dana McCool, who “peacefully protested” her nearly $500 water bill by paying the entire thing in pennies and live streaming the affair on Facebook.
We get it, Ms. McCool. We all like to take very long showers and flush the toilet one extra time out of courtesy, but yeesh. It is unclear if she achieved anything by paying the bill in pennies, as the state employee in the video told her that counting them all “wouldn’t be a problem,” and that following the media attention, her life probably went back to normal. Maybe now she takes shorter showers.
10 A Florida Woman Was Arrested For Calling 911 Thirty Two Times For Fun
Within the space of 24 hours and across two towns, Melissa Harbor of Leesburg, Florida, made 32 phone calls to 911. While this sounds like the beginning of a scary true crime documentary, the only crime in this story is wasting police time. During the spat of calls, she told officers that she “heard a noise inside her room and was scared,” and was checked on by police. Once police determined there was no threat, she called again, asking the police dispatched to her to join her for ice cream. We’re not exaggerating at all. When that didn’t work, she called 911 once again, this time pretending to order pizza. Maybe this time her finger slipped. Fortunately for everyone, she was arrested and booked on the charge of misusing 911. No word on whether or not she did order pizza that night.
9 That Time A Grown Woman Threw A Hot Pizza At Employees Because She Was Mad
The expression “the customer is always right” actually means “the customer is always insane”. Take Leslie Vermilio from Deltona, for instance, who chucked a pizza at employees in a local pizza restaurant after being upset that her pizza was made incorrectly. The pizza, which was still hot, actually burned the employee.
After discovering her pizza was wrong, she escalated a confrontation with the store manager to the point “brandishing her pizza like a weapon” and tossing it at the employees.
Thankfully the incident was caught on camera. Her adult son - who did absolutely nothing to intervene - can be seen standing thoughtfully off to the side, so as not to interrupt. She was later arrested, and unfortunately never received the correct pizza.
8 A Dude Stole A Real Live Peacock & Got Caught On Camera
This is news to us, but apparently, there are wild peacocks that just roam around in Miami. We initially thought that maybe a rich Bitcoin investor had a gaggle of peacocks wandering around his private gardens, but apparently, they just run around wild and don’t discriminate between Bitcoin investors and common thieves. Miami is a designated bird sanctuary, which means it’s illegal to tamper with or disturb the birds. In the neighborhood of Coconut Grove, one resident’s home security system captured footage of a man climbing out of his truck, chasing a peacock, and grabbing one. He then sped away with the bird in his truck. Police were unable to determine the identity of the birdnapper. The bird is still unaccounted for.
7 That Time A Pregnant Woman Jumped Onto A Moving Car To Stop Purse Thieves
When one Miami woman had her purse stolen, she decided she would stop at no lengths to get it back. As Cassandra Better was in the midst of planning her baby shower, she noticed two men in the parking lot enter her car and steal her purse. Despite being pregnant, she chased them to their car and climbed up on their hood.
Even though the thieves hit the gas, she screamed, “Hey, I’m pregnant!” but to no avail.
She rolled off the car, and the thieves escaped with $3000 in cash and a diamond ring. That’s definitely a shame, but it just goes to show that it’s not safe to leave your valuables in your car. It also goes to show that being pregnant doesn’t just mean you can climb onto the hood of a getaway car and expect criminals to change their minds.
6 A Florida Woman Accidentally Let Her Car Roll Into A Pool With Her Family Inside
A Crestview woman put her entire family in unexpected danger when she dipped out of her car to quickly get something from her apartment. Forgetting to put the car in park, the unnamed woman’s car rolled into the building’s swimming pool with her husband and daughter inside. "New meaning to the term carpool," the Sheriff’s office told Fox News. While no injuries were reported – dad and daughter escaped quickly and unharmed – the car did not survive. Police shared photos of the incident on their Facebook page (which seems kind of illegal, but hey, America!) causing them to go viral. We hope the family is able to replace the car, but we know it can be hard to swim through the treacherous waters of financing a new one.
5 When A Miami Woman Rode A Horse Into A Nightclub & Ruined Everyone's Night
The internet exploded when photos of a horse riding through a Miami Beach nightclub surfaced in March, with thousands of voices unifying into a single chorus of “but why though”.
The nightclub is thought to have organized the event as a publicity stunt, and an investigation by police led to their business license being revoked.
In videos of the event, a woman in swimwear enters the crowded floor on the horse before falling off. The public response was overwhelmingly negative, and the club is being investigated for animal cruelty. Perhaps they would have fared better if they had tapped into Miami’s rampant wild peacock population for local animal entertainment, but we doubt the peacocks are unionized.
4 A Woman Sued A Hamburger Joint Because She Got Injured By A Drag Queen's Costume
What do you get when you cross “I Need To Speak With The Manager” hair with RuPaul’s Drag Race? A $1.5 million dollar lawsuit. When a Tampa woman entered a Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in 2015, she told the courts she had no idea that there would be any special events happening that night. The joke was on her, though. It’s always a special night at Hamburger Mary’s, the only restaurant chain staffed entirely by drag queens. We like to imagine it’s something like working at Sephora and McDonald's at the same time. During a performance by the staff, the plaintiff was repeatedly struck by a dancing drag queen. After the performance, the woman checked herself into the hospital for “excruciating pain” and said she was getting a headache. The word is out as to whether or not the woman will be compensated for her trauma.
3 Remember When A Florida Man Tried To Rob A Gas Station With A Corn Dog
If you’re ever looking for a fun way to spend a Friday afternoon in the Sunshine State, consider loitering around any rural gas station. According to a police report obtained by Fox News, a man from Marion County escalated an argument with a clerk after she refused to sell him beer.
While it is unclear as to why wouldn’t sell it to him, he immediately sprung into action and threatened the employee with a corn dog on a stick.
The corn dog injured the employee, leaving her with “a red mark under her eye,” according to Fox. Reports do not detail whether or not the aggrieved man left the gas station with what he came for, but thanks to security footage he was later arrested. If CSI Miami was still on, we’d be very interested in the episode based on this.
2 That Time A Guy Stole A Utilities Truck & Wiped Out Cable Service For Literally Everyone
When thousands of Cocoa residents found their cable service had been interrupted, they had no way of knowing that this was only one small part of one man’s very terrible day. While a municipal worker was dealing with fiber optic cables in the trailer attached to his work truck, Shane Edward Younger climbed into the cab and drove the truck away. The worker jumped from the trailer and watched the truck fly off. In doing so, Younger tore a cable that was being fed into the ground, causing $10,000 worth of damage to the fiber optic lines. The fun doesn’t stop there, folks. The man then drove the truck to the parking lot of a restaurant and blocked people from entering or leaving, then sat down for a meal. When asked to move the truck, he said that it wasn’t his. While this was admittedly true, it was also quite rude. Employees called the police, and Younger was arrested. Cable and order have since been restored.
1 That Time A Woman Dressed As A Turkey Got Arrested For Shoplifting
If you’ve never heard of The Villages, it’s probably because you haven’t been considering retirement. The Villages is the name of America’s largest retirement community, with somewhere around 125,000 permanent residents. It’s very common for the elderly residents to roam around The Villages in golf carts. A Villages resident dressed as a turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving and pass out candy in front of a Belk’s store.
Employees were later shocked to discover the very same turkey woman on their security cameras pocketing handbags, electronics, jewelry, and a waffle maker.
She was arrested and given a date for the hearing, telling the Tampa Bay Times that she was planning to contest the charges and had initially planned on showing up to court dressed as a turkey but ultimately decided against it.
References: foxnews.com, theroot.com, tbo.com, theweek.com, brevardtimes.com, foxnews.com, 10news.com, cnn.com, foxnews.com, wdsu.com, dailymail.com.uk, dailymail.com.uk, dailymail.com.uk, fox13news.com, wftv.com, local10.com, miamiherald.com, ajc.com, miamiherald.com, theweek.co.uk