Thanks to the news and the internet, it's never been easier to know which places are safe to take your family and which aren't. But what if you're the kind of go-getter who doesn't want to make two trips? What if your schedule requires you to have your kid's birthday party and buy heroin in the same place? Luckily, many innocent-looking, everyday locations are actually crawling with crooks. In fact, you could be visiting a secret hotbed of crime every week and never even know. For instance...
If you hear bells and see a little tot running down the street, you know there's an ice cream truck around the corner. If you see a full-grown adult running after the same sweet-treat peddler, call the police, because the guy who just rocked up to your suburb driving a van and luring your kids is probably a stone-cold drug dealer.
Ice cream truck drivers and drug dealers already have so much in common (riding around all day playing music and slinging treats on a street corner), so it kind of makes sense that some of them decided to start selling much harder candy. In addition to bomb pops and snow cones, many drivers are also selling marijuana, cocaine, and meth. Star players of this offbeat criminal career include a dealer who cruised middle schools in a Mister Softee truck selling weed and blow while flashing his gun for all to see, and a savvy cocaine and painkiller purveyor who offered free ice cream with every purchase. That's the kind of synergy we can get behind.
In what may or may not be surprising to learn, quite a few of these vanilla-related crimes are taking place in New York City. The city has had a minor rash of Rocket Pop pushers, with police arresting four ice cream truck drug dealers between 2007 and 2013, including a million-dollar bust in 2011. Two wiseguys of the Lucchese crime family decided to get into the oxycodone painkiller business with nothing more than a dream, a bunch of stolen prescription pads, and a Lickety Split ice cream truck. Over the span of two years, they used the branded truck as a front to distribute 42,755 oxycodone pills, which is about one for every sprinkle they sold. The sting was nicknamed Operation Bad Medicine, because for some reason the Police Naming Brigade decided to exclude any mention of the ice cream.
In the eyes of librarians, we're all criminals. If they could, they'd lock up everyone who has ever had a late fee or spoken above a whisper and then file away the key using some byzantine sorting system. There is, however, one type of patron who's a librarian's wet dream. They're quiet, they never forget to return a book, and they never bring in outside food or drink. They also get naked and masturbate for internet money.
Libraries are meant for dignified learning, yet a new strand of lawbreakers have turned their local book lender into a licentious lair. It started with the creatively nicknamed Library Girl, who got down and dirty in her local library for a webcam show. The video quickly became viral, which boosted the career of several more porn performers. Catching on to what many broke college students have known for years, webcam models began to take advantage of the free internet found in the public library. Quite a few amateur camgirls have since been inspired to jump into a book or two, creating a bona fide new porn niche.
Camgirls aren't the only sex workers who have started using libraries as their offices. A woman in New Hampshire was arrested for soliciting strangers for sex at their local library. The would-be call girl's M.O. was to sidle up to a prospective john and pass him a note like some starry-eyed fourth-grader. Why she decided to try to gather sex dollars in the library is unclear, but she's not the only person to think of it -- a library in Maryland recently had to crack down on "loitering" in a desperate effort to reduce the number of people having sex in their parking lot. Apparently the magic of reading is just too powerfully erotic for some people.
When thinking about big-time heists, we like to imagine a bunch of Clooneys and De Niros masterminding a genius plan to steal millions worth of precious diamonds. But why go through the trouble of assaulting a bank or high-class casino when you could just burgle your nearest toy store for millions of dollars worth of tiny plastic bricks?
All across the country people are making off with thousands of dollars of extremely popular LEGO sets and then flipping them on the web. Police have estimated one Arizona racket to have stolen and resold $250,000 worth of LEGO, and one ambitious Florida man stole $2 million worth of plastic dad-landmines. A gang of crooks in Canada broke into a Toys "R" Us just to steal LEGO merchandise. That means they passed aisles and aisles of expensive video game systems to get their hands on a bunch of little plastic blocks.
But why is the LEGO brand such a hot ticket for thieves? Unless you're a 7-year-old day trader, you might not know that the price of LEGO bricks have been going through the roof for years now. These Scandinavian gemstones have an unrivaled market growth rate, with mint condition LEGO sets steadily increasing in value by 12 percent per year. Even more amazingly, some sets that are less than a year old can easily go for 36 percent more than the original price on eBay. Thieves have been capitalizing on the toy's popularity with collectors by selling their pilfered goods online, turning those LEGO bricks into bricks of pure gold -- making Legoland the new El Dorado. It makes us wonder why gentlemen thieves even bother heisting priceless diamonds guarded by lasers when they can just clean out a Walmart and retire.
Living in close proximity to a volcano doesn't immediately seem like a good idea, but those who learn to tiptoe around the murderous mountains can usually expect a quiet life with an amazing view. They just can't become too attached to their house or their possessions, because if the lava doesn't eventually get them, thieves surely will.
Thanks to the occasional river of molten rock flowing down the street, residents in the vicinity of a volcano sometimes have to flee their homes, leaving their possessions to the wrath of the gods. However, the gods usually don't get a chance to weigh in on the matter, because thieves see this as the perfect opportunity to loot the ever-loving shit out of the abandoned houses. They also raid research centers, making off with valuable solar panels and GPS tracking equipment, which means that they're more of a hindrance to volcano research than the fucking volcano itself.
Unfortunately, looters are not the worst volcano-themed criminal element. Criminals tend to gather where tourists are, and tourists like to go stare at volcanoes. But there must be something about living under a black mountain full of fiery death that makes people more ruthless than usual, because around the Iztaccihuatl volcano in Mexico, victims were getting straight-up murdered. Things got so bad a volcano police task force was set up to patrol the boiling mountains decked out with ski poles, helmets, and polarized sunglasses in search of marauders. So yeah -- volcanoes are surrounded by so much lawlessness that they need their own police force.
Much like debutantes in the Victorian era, famous people are expected to present themselves with an immaculate public persona -- and to have better-than-average teeth. With constant supervision by managers, agents, paparazzi, and everyone with a smartphone, that means there are very few spots for famous folk to let their guard down. But everyone needs a place where they can blow off some steam, and it turns out that for celebrities that place is Waffle House.
More than any other type of entertainer, musicians are the ones who seem most likely to snap in this proverbial house of waffles. In 2008 the Insane Clown Posse pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after beating an 18-year-old in an Indiana Waffle House, which, in the band's defense, is the most Insane Clown Posse sentence that has ever been written. Rapper Juvenile beat the hell of out of a fellow Waffle House patron after the guy called his girlfriend a "hoe," successfully correcting the man's inappropriate sexism and leaving before the cops arrived. Speaking of weird chivalry: Kid Rock and guitarist Jason Krause were ordered to pay out $40,000 in restitution after stomping a mudhole into some guy for speaking to a female member of their entourage while they were trying to enjoy their Waffle House hash browns. As atonement for his behavior, Kid Rock later appeared at another Waffle House franchise to apologize and work behind the counter to raise money for his charity. However, he did not apologize to the probably innocent man he punched. Way to know your audience, Kid.
Even Disney stars have been known to throw down near some Belgian-American cuisine. In 2015, Disney alum Raven "That's-So-Not-That-Raven" Goodwin got kicked out of a Waffle House after getting into a fight with a woman who refused to leave a table that Raven wanted to be seated at (no, we didn't know you could reserve a table at Waffle House either). After confronting the loiterer in the bathroom, the two women started to fight, forcing several employees to separate them and escort them outside to the parking lot, which incidentally is the nicest table in Waffle House.
Speaking of Disney ...
Apparently, if you dub a place the Happiest Place On Earth, criminals will flock to it to sell drugs and guns. They may not always succeed, but that sure won't stop them from trying.
For instance: In 2015, one couple took their kids for a fun summer blowout at Disneyland Paris, except they were just using the kids as cover to transport 10 kilograms of heroin, presumably assuming that nobody would be suspicious if a trip to Disneyland ended in a magic dragon ride. With that kind of drug trafficking going on, it might not be surprising to learn that people trying to smuggle guns into the House Of Mouse are eerily common. Thankfully, they almost never make it through the gate, mainly due to vigilant visitors who keep an eye out for suspicious bulges.
Speaking of suspicious bulges, since 2006 at least 35 Disney employees have been arrested for various sex crimes involving minors. At least two of these crimes (both of them possession of child pornography) actually took place inside the gates of Disney's parks. Presumably somewhere in the Haunted Mansion.
Then there are the Disney gangs, or "social clubs," that roam the parks. Social clubs are Disney fanatics who act and dress like bikers who have devoted themselves to the Mouse instead of meth (one Russian club even started worshiping one of the Rescue Rangers as a goddess, although this may have more to do with meth than Disney). As of 2014, at least 90 different groups were identified, many of them considered "creepy" by some Disney employees, which, if you've been paying attention, is really saying something.
Much like real gangs, the clubs frequently indulge in antisocial and sometimes illicit behavior. They have a reputation for skipping lines, doing drugs, and engaging in the saddest turf wars in human history. Such obsessive behavior is almost a park tradition, dating all the way back to the 1960s, when hundreds of "long-hairs" swarmed Tom Sawyer Island and prompted the attraction to be shut down early after they caused mayhem and assaulted a few police officers in the process.
What we're trying to say is: The news was right. Don't ever go outside.
Carolyn's tweets should be a crime.
Which Sci-Fi Trope Would You Bring To The Real World, And Why? Every summer we're treated to the same buffet of three or four science fiction movies with the same basic conceits. There's man vs. aliens, man vs. robots, man vs. army of clones and man vs. complicated time travel rules. With virtual reality and self-driving cars fast approaching, it's time to consider what type of sci-fi movie we want to be living in for the rest of our lives. Co-hosts Jack O'Brien and Adam Tod Brown are joined by Cracked's Tom Reimann and Josh Sargent along with comedians David Huntsberger, Caitlin Gill, and Lizzy Cooperman to figure out which sci-fi trope would be the best to make a reality. Get your tickets to this live podcast here!
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