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Themes Emerge When Collecting Strange Security Stories

Today we celebrate the 19th installment of Strange Security, where every month we present some of the wild security (or security-adjacent) news we’ve run across in the previous month. Why celebrate number 19 and not, say, 20, you might ask? My response: Eh, what makes 20 so special? Besides, I won’t be writing number 20, that will be my esteemed colleague Claire Meyer, who will pinch hit for me with the strange news from December.

I know this is the 19th edition because of one of the strange stories considered but not selected in the top five this month—the theft of a toilet made of gold. I thought this lavish latrine had previously graced Strange Security, so I went searching in previous months. Alas, I now remember the precious privy story as one of many we ran across that led us to begin collecting the strange stories and writing about them monthly. It's part of this monthly column's origin story. And while looking back at the previous 19 editions, I noticed some recurring themes, so I selected stories this month that fit into these distinct categories.

P.S.: We have a standard disclaimer that notes security is serious business. We have fun collecting these stories every month, but we want to acknowledge that several of these stories have very real victims and presenting them in this lighthearted manner is not meant to diminish the negative impact they may have on some people.

Number 5Theme: Sometimes it’s just a real solid headline that grabs you. The headline in this case is “How to Hijack a Quarter of a Million Dollars in Rare Japanese Kit Kats.” Who knew that melon-flavored chocolate bars—one of many “sought-after flavors”—could be so popular? The New York Times stated, “These particular Kit Kats would become the key players in an ultimately frustrating saga of shell email accounts, phantom truckers, supply-chain fraud, and one seriously bewildered cargo freight broker.” Now that’s some sweet intrigue!

Number 4Theme: Strange animal stories make regular appearances. Bonus if they, too, have solid headlines. Headline in this case: “A population of hard-to-eradicate ‘super pigs’ in Canada is threatening to invade the U.S.” Turns out, the super pigs aren’t actually making threats. They’re just being feral pigs and wandering around. If you have responsibility for securing land in the northern parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, or Montana, however, it may be time to dust off that “feral pig invasion” risk planning document you’ve been keeping on the shelf.

Number 3Theme: Another theme combo: Animals, plus things that aren’t really security’s business but you know they’re going to end up on the security director’s desk because no one else wants to deal with it. Headline for this one: “A horse loose on a flight to Belgium forces a cargo jet back to New York.” The article featured this never-thought-it-would-be-said dialog from an air traffic control recording: “I do believe we need a vet… for the horse upon landing.” As for the security director: Someone was supposed to secure that horse, who was responsible for that?

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Number 2Theme: Kids behaving badly. Look kids are kids, and doing stupid stuff is just part of growing up. That’s true. But when you do something like steal an industrial-sized forklift and damage 10 parked cars, you deserve what’s coming to you… and a spot in Strange Security. (I’m just glad there wasn’t a high-resolution camera in everyone’s pocket when I was a kid.)

Number 1Theme: Adults behaving badly. I do have (a little) sympathy for the kids who make headlines for doing stupid stuff. Not so much for the adults. So when members of Albania’s parliament set off a smoke flare in the legislative chamber causing a fire, all in order to delay a vote... well, they deserve the ridicule. (Oh yeah, and, hey, security director, why didn’t plan for/prevent/mitigate that before it happened?)

And here are a few other stories that grabbed our attention, beginning with the one I’ve already mentioned:

Four men charged over theft of $6 million gold toilet from English palace

Escaped circus lion roams around Italian town before capture

French police thwart €600,000 champagne heist

Grammy-nominated gospel singer Bobbi Storm nearly kicked off flight for singing

Orcas sink another boat in Strait of Gibraltar off Morocco