From creative ways to deal with stolen packages to a $284 billion electric bill, here's a look at some of this week's strangest headlines from around the world.
Police: Man attempted to rob store with fake furniture gun
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Police say a man who tried and failed to rob an Ohio convenience store with a fake gun made from pieces of furniture has been charged with robbery.
Akron police say the man walked into a local Circle K store Monday afternoon waving what appeared to be a rifle and demanding cash. An employee realized the rifle was a fake and confronted the man with the help of three customers.
The man tried to flee but was subdued and detained by the people in the store until police arrived. He has been charged with aggravated robbery and is scheduled to appear in municipal court Wednesday.
Police say the man had a pole, a fake scope, a spring and two table legs fastened together to look like a rifle.
Life-size elf decoration turns heads, even loses his own
ROCKPORT, Mass. (AP) — A life-size elf mannequin on display in a Massachusetts yard has been turning heads — and occasionally losing his own.
Actress Melissa McMeekin has been having a little fun by moving her 6-foot-tall elf doll to different locations outside her Rockport home.
During the countdown to Christmas, Daryl the red-suited elf has appeared seated on a tree branch, riding a bicycle, lying on a hammock and tied up like a hostage.
McMeekin tells the Gloucester Times her family has been getting a kick out of the double takes the moveable elf has elicited from passers-by. She says on one blustery day Daryl fell off his bike and his head landed a few feet away.
McMeekin's acting credits include "The Fighter," "American Hustle" and other films.
Minneapolis man seeks foul revenge on porch thieves
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis man put his dog's excrement in an old iPhone box and placed the packaged box on his porch to teach the neighborhood thieves a lesson.
The package was stolen off his property within two days, so the man decided to replicate the prank. The packages of dog feces were stolen faster as the holidays approached.
The Star Tribune reports that the Minneapolis man first sought his foul revenge after neighborhood kids stole an envelope containing a $10 watchband from his front porch. He caught the theft on his home surveillance video camera.
As he continued to set up his surprise packages, he found that adults were inspecting neighborhoods in search of packages too.
He says he wasn't trying to be a crusader, but that the pranks took on a life of their own.
Raja the cat returned to family 3 years later
GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) — Raja the cat once was lost, but now is found — three years later.
On Tuesday, a man brought a stray cat to a shelter in Georgetown, Delaware, run by the Brandywine Valley chapter of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Staffers there found the cat's microchip, and through some sleuthing connected 6-year-old Raja to his owners, the Tuttle family.
As it turns out, the Tuttles lost Raja back in 2014 when they were living in Florida. The Tuttles now live in Virginia.
The family came to Delaware on Saturday to reclaim their prodigal feline.
Man's 1944 love letter found within remodeled home's walls
GREENFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Massachusetts police have a new mystery to solve: Who wrote a 1944 love letter discovered within the walls of a house being remodeled?
The Greenfield Police Department took to Facebook on Saturday to ask for the public's help in figuring out the backstory behind the handwritten letter. Police say the letter is dated April 19, 1944, and was penned by a man who identified himself only as Walter.
The letter was addressed to Miss Betty Miller, of Greenfield. In the letter, Walter makes no attempt to hide his affections. He writes: "I have always thought more of you than any other girl, and I still do."
Wild truffle grows on Paris rooftop, in scientific mystery
PARIS (AP) — Urban scientists and Paris foodies are getting excited about a bizarre discovery atop a hotel near the Eiffel Tower: the first-ever wild truffle growing in the French capital.
It's just one 25-gram (0.9-ounce) winter truffle. But truffles normally sprout only in limited areas of southern Europe, and are so rare that the most prized versions can sell for thousands of euros per kilogram.
The National Museum of Natural History, which confirmed the discovery Friday, called it a "beautiful example" of environmental benefits of rooftop gardens sprouting across Paris and other cities.
Urban ecology researcher Frederic Madre described on France-Info television finding the mushroom beneath a hornbeam tree at the Mercure Paris Centre hotel.
This truffle was donated to science — but the hotel is already hoping to be able to offer homegrown truffles to diners someday.
Fruitcake package temporarily halts Seattle ferry service
SEATTLE (AP) — Authorities say a wrapped present that turned out to be a fruitcake temporarily halted service at a Seattle ferry terminal while police investigated.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Kevin Fortino says troopers were notified Tuesday that a suspicious package was found beneath a Christmas tree in the pedestrian waiting area.
Fortino says the package was deemed suspicious because it was unmarked and was the only gift under the tree.
Officials evacuated the terminal and kept all inbound ferries away for about a half-hour while the police bomb squad investigated.
Fortino says the gift was found to be a fruitcake.
He says it wasn't clear why it was left at the terminal.
Woman stunned to find electric bill listed as $284 billion
ERIE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman says she went online to check her electric bill and was stunned at the amount — more than $284 billion.
The Erie Times-News reports that Mary Horomanski said her eyes "just about popped out" of her head when she saw the amount. She suspected that her family had put up their Christmas lights wrong.
The silver lining was that she didn't have to pay the full amount until November 2018 — only a $28,156 minimum payment was due for December.
Horomanski's son contacted Penelac, her electric provider, who confirmed the error. Parent company First Energy said a decimal point was accidentally moved. Her new amount was quickly corrected to $284.46.
A cougar in your luggage? Hunting carcass found at airport
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Police say a hunter's trip home hit a snag in Las Vegas after security screeners found a dead cougar in his luggage.
No crime was committed because the man had a hunting tag. But police Lt. David Gordon told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Transportation Security Administration agents held the man at McCarran International Airport late Tuesday to confirm the validity of the Utah hunting tag.
His name and where he was headed weren't released.
Airport spokeswoman Melissa Nunnery says the man ended up shipping the cougar carcass home, not on the airplane.
Gordon says it's not a crime to transport legally possessed game on an airline flight. But he says airlines can refuse to transport certain items.