Past year dished up plenty of odd news

LAS CRUCES – It never fails. Each year, Las Cruces and Do a Ana County see a fair share of odd and unusual news events. As it fades into the history books, 2011 will be remembered for everything from stolen batting practice dummies to Mrs. Clause’s stolen Subaru, and from a giant rooster in Hatch knocked off his roost by vandals to a woman who tore her daughter-in-law’s nipple off.

There is never a dull moment. Here’s a roundup of the strange stories that have crossed our paths this year.

In September, a Las Cruces woman was subjected to a forcible body cavity search that did not turn up any evidence of what officers suspected to be concealed heroin – and was then charged for the procedure. She later threatened suit and the Metro Narcotics Agency footed the $1,122 bill for the search.

It was “fowl play” of huge proportions when Sparky, the 8-foot rooster that has crowed the Sparky’s Burgers, BBQ and Espresso in Hatch, was vandalized and knocked off his perch in July. Owners Teako and Josie Nunn said the rooster was found on the ground next to several spent beer bottles. Sparky was eventually brought back to rule his roost at the eatery.

In June, a couple of local spas got a few unexpected visitors when they were raided and owners and employees were charged with offering more than the standard massage care. Police said the businesses offered activities and services that were “very out of the ordinary” for Las Cruces.

July brought another allegation of rude

behavior when a local family ended a night out with their 4-year-old at a local restaurant when the youngster posed for a picture with Chuck E. Cheese. The tot’s parents reported the spokes-rodent flipped the bird while posing with their son. The company pointed out that the costume only had four fingers, and so has no middle finger

Another family celebration ended poorly this summer when a woman was charged, and pleaded guilty to, ripping her daughter-in-law’s nipple during a dispute. Police reported alcohol played a role in the incident.

The year got off to a morbid start when five coyotes were found strung up by a hind leg, dangling from a chain-link fence along the Mesilla Dam. The finding raised the hackles of local animal activists. Those responsible never came forward.

The year ended on a more happy note, however. Gail Larkin was playing Mrs. Clause at the Mesilla Valley Mall when her Subaru was stolen. Citing bad publicity, the mall let Mrs. Clause know her smiling face would not be needed for the rest of the holiday season. After a public outcry, Mrs. Clause was back spreading holiday cheer, and her vehicle was found, apparently returned to the mall parking lot – a little worse for wear.

Another item was stolen and returned in September, this time wearing nothing. A 6-foot-tall “hitter” mannequin was taken from the New Mexico State University baseball team. He was spotted in shrubbery a few days later, stripped of his uniform. He was back at the plate, nude but no worse for wear.

And Las Crucens were unusually fascinated in August, as the city boasted the opening of our first escalator. When the Barnes and Noble bookstore opened on the NMSU campus, it was noted there were now two escalators in Las Cruces – one going up and one going down.

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