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Illustration by Security Management

Scorpions, Tools, Pickleball, Slingshots, and Graceland: Oh M(a)y!

Maybe May was made for mayhem. This edition of Strange Security brings you a selection of some of the strangest security-related articles our editors ran across in May, which featured a lot of thieving and attempted thieving, as well as a neighborhood terrorized by a slingshot-wielding menace. But we start with that rare occurrence in Strange Security: an accused smuggler who appears to actually be innocent.

But first, our standard disclaimer: Security is serious, and while we treat the stories in this monthly feature with a lighter touch, we understand that many of these stories have victims, and we do not mean to diminish any pain and suffering endured by those featured in them.

Number 5“I Swear, I’m Allowed to Have Those Dead Scorpions:” A man was detained at the Istanbul airport when 88 bottles of liquid containing 1,500 dead scorpions were found in his luggage. The man was Lorenzo Prendini, and he is a curator for the American Museum of Natural History who said airport authorities ignored permits showing he was allowed to transport the specimens. He got to spend a night in a Turkish detention cell before being released.

Number 4One Carpenter Finds Multimillion Dollar Tool Theft Operation: They are easy marks: an open garage, a tool cache at a construction site, or a toolbox on a contractor’s truck. One carpenter fought back after having been the target of multiple thefts. He hid Apple AirTags on larger items where they were easily concealed. What police found at the AirTags’ location looked like a disorganized big box hardware store.

Number 3Pickleball: Every New Craze Brings a New Target for Thieves: The story describes the tactics of a trio of thieves—still on the lam—that has apparently hit several East Coast sports equipment stores. The ring involves a man working to distract employees while two women hide pickleball paddles under their clothes. Reports of the thefts travelled south from New York to Philadelphia, but not quick enough to prevent crimes following the same pattern occurring in the Washington, D.C. area.

Number 2 81-Year-Old Terrorizes Neighborhood with a Slingshot: A California octogenarian was arrested for allegedly shooting ball bearings from his backyard. Get this: he reportedly had been terrorizing the neighborhood since he was a septuagenarian—dozens of complaints during the past nine or 10 years. The ball bearings reportedly broke windows and car windshields and narrowly missed people. Police finally served a warrant and discovered the slingshot and ball bearings.

Number 1Forget Those Small Potatoes, If You’re Going to Steal Something, Steal Something Big: Sure with enough volume, construction tools—heck, even pickleball paddles—could be lucrative theft targets. But one fraudster had a much bigger prize in mind. In a plot that brings to mind the old “I’ve got a bridge to sell you…” schtick, scammers attempted to steal Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate from his granddaughter Riley Keough.

As we look at a few of the other stories that caught our eye, we give a special salute to the headline and deck writers at the not-as-stodgy-as-you-think Wall Street Journal. Check out this headline… and a few other notably strange and unusual security-adjacent articles:

A Connecticut Town Confronts the ‘Aporkalypse:’ A battle over roaming pigs is roiling neighbors in an area long proud of its rural character. Even the feds have stuck their snouts in.

Man pleads guilty in theft of Arnold Palmer green jacket, other Masters memorabilia from Augusta

Rare Editions of Pushkin Are Vanishing From Libraries Around Europe

FBI investigating missing ancient treasures from British Museum