Friday, July 6, 2007

Ronald McNapped

Ronald McDonald McNapped in Ballston Spa!

July 5, 2007 02:44 PM

McNapped: the hunt is on, for Ronald McDonald!

The statue was saved from the garbage heap by a Ballston Spa man who took it home and kept it for years - until this weekend, when a determined burglar apparently broke into the family's yard, and took all eight-feet of the familiar fast-food icon.

NEWS10's Jeff Stoecker is on the case of the missing clown.

Sunday started out like any other day for Grace Ruggiero, by letting the dog out.

"Sat down, had my coffee like I always do," Grace says. "She (Grace's dog) usually knocks him (the Ronald statue) down and gets caught up behind him. I just sat there, and I'm like, where the heck is Ronald?"

Someone stole the eight-foot Ronald McDonald statue sitting in the Ruggiero's backyard for the last 14 years. It had to be one of the stranger calls to Ballston Spa Police.

"She (the police dispatcher) said, can you give me a description - I said, yeah, he's an eight-foot clown, his name is Ronald," says Grace, who chuckles.

The Ruggiero's backyard, for the most part, is not even visible from the street. Their garage is even further back - and that is where Ronald used to stand. Neighbors have their theories now, on who is responsible:

"The guy from Burger King," says Randy Cotton, referring to the "King" mascot in commercials.

"The Burger King, is that his name?" Jeff asks Randy.

"Sure, I suppose - the guy with the big 'stache," Randy says.

And just where has Wendy been lately? While Ballston Spa Police are not pointing the finger at fast-food foes, they are investigating.

"We think, or I think that they brought him right over here (pointing to one section of his backyard), climbed over there, opened the fence and just left," says Christian Ruggiero.

"This is my yard, and somebody actually came back here and helped themselves to something," Grace says. "It's beyond the Ronald thing, just coming in and helping themselves."

All kidding aside, Grace believes the statue could be worth thousands. She has called eBay to warn them of the hot clown, if he shows up for auction online.

The Ruggieros say he was sort of like a family member, and they say they just want him back, no questions asked - well, perhaps one small punishment for his abductors:

"No more happy meals for them," Grace says.

911 call 300 times

Thu Jul 5, 10:02 PM ET

CARPENTERSVILLE, Ill. - Authorities tracked down a 4-year-old girl who called 911 nearly 300 times last month by offering to deliver McDonald's to her suburban Chicago apartment.

Unbeknownst to her mother, the girl used a deactivated cell phone to call dispatchers 287 times in June — sometimes as often as 20 times a shift.

Dispatchers heard the child's voice but could only track the phone's signal to the apartment complex.

So authorities used a ruse to pinpoint her.

"We asked (the caller) what she wanted. She said she wanted McDonald's," said Steve Cordes, executive director of QuadCom's emergency center, which covers Carpentersville.

"We talked with her and we convinced her if she told us where she lives, we would bring her McDonald's," he said. "She finally gave us her address. So we sent the police over — with no McDonald's."

After police arrived, the girl's mother took away the phone, Cordes said.

Under federal law, deactivated cell phones still must be able to access 911. Many deactivated phones will contact an emergency call center if the user holds down the nine key.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Habsburg heir puts 'Dracula's Castle' up for sale in Transylvania
Published: Monday, July 2, 2007 | 5:19 PM ET

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - An heir of Romania's former royal family put "Dracula's Castle" in Transylvania up for sale Monday, hoping to secure a buyer who will respect "the property and its history," a U.S.-based investment company said.

The Bran Castle, perched on a cliff near Brasov in mountainous central Romania, is a top tourist attraction because of its ties to Prince Vlad the Impaler, the warlord whose cruelty inspired Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, "Dracula."

Legend has it that Vlad, who earned his nickname because of the way he tortured his enemies, spent one night in the 1400s at the castle.

Bran Castle was built in the 14th century to serve as a fortress to protect against the invading Ottoman Turks. The royal family moved into the castle in the 1920s, living there until the communist regime confiscated it from Princess Ileana in 1948.

After being restored in the late 1980s and following the end of communist rule in Romania, it gained popularity as a tourist attraction known as "Dracula's Castle."

In May 2006, the castle was returned to Princess Ileana's son, Archduke Dominic Habsburg.

Habsburg, 69, a New York architect, pledged to keep it open as a museum until 2009 and offered to sell the castle last year to local authorities for US $80 million, but the offer was rejected.

On Monday, he put the castle up for sale "to the right purchaser under the right circumstances," said Michael Gardner, chief executive of Baytree Capital, the company representing Habsburg. "The Habsburgs are not in the business of managing a museum."

No price was announced, although Gardner predicted the castle would sell for more than $135 million. He added that Habsburg will only sell to a buyer "who will treat the property and its history with appropriate respect."

According to a contract signed when the castle was returned, the government pays rent to Habsburg to run the castle as a museum for three years, charging admission. After 2009, Habsburg will have full control of the castle, Gardner said.

The government has priority as a buyer if it can match the best offer, he said.

Opposition legislators have claimed the government's decision to return the castle to Habsburg was illegal because of procedural errors.

In recent years, the castle has attracted filmmakers looking for a dramatic backdrop for films about Dracula and other horror movies.

Some 450,000 people visit the castle every year, Gardner said.

DESTIN, Fla. -- A fight between two Destin friends ended painfully for one man when he was stabbed with a fish.

Police said one of the men threw a catfish at his 22-year-old friend Monday during the argument.

The fins went in about three-quarters of an inch and stuck in the unidentified man's back.

Lifeguards cut the fish away and the victim was taken to a hospital. His condition was not reported.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.