$20k in mystery gold found in Kiama backyard: The stack of gold bullion - part of a package left in plain sight for a woman to discover at her home in July - may have been abandoned in the closing chapter of an aborted theft, police say. If their owner could not be found within six weeks, there was a high chance the rule of finders keepers would apply.
Russell Vale 'zombie’ stops car dead. In August a dreadlocked man who stood in the path of a moving car at Russell Vale and tried to get inside was likened to a character from a horror movie. The man ignored a blaring horn and high beams and was caught on dashcam footage walking at the car, both arms extended.
Struck by lightning at Wollongong beach? A woman who fell violently ill at Wollongong McDonald’s in January was thought to have been unwittingly struck by lightning at the beach minutes earlier. At City Beach, the woman had pressed a metal shower tap so her young son could rinse off. She was standing in water, with her other hand on the shower’s metal pole, when she felt a tingling sensation throughout her body. At the same time, her friend saw her fall backwards onto the ground, as if thrown.
Illawarra 'panther' drops in on Seacliff selfie spot: Alex Vourliotis and his partner Tanaya Webb were pursuing the perfect selfie in the escarpment at Coalcliff in October when the Albion Park personal trainer realised they weren't alone. Mr Vourliotis firmly believes he had seen for himself the Illawarra ‘panther’ – the big, black cat said to roam the region’s green border.
And the award for dumbest criminal goes to ... In April an Illawarra woman allegedly stole a prosecutor’s handbag from Wollongong courthouse just moments after convincing a judge she was a good influence on her drug dealing boyfriend.
North Wollongong prisoner flashes magistrate: A prisoner “mooned” a magistrate while appearing on video link in Wollongong Local Court in February. No we’re not joking, yes it did happen. Or at least, it was part-way through happening when court officers managed to disconnect the camera feed from the custodial room mid-shot, before the incident reached the point of no return.
Lingerie lad makes surprise catwalk appearance: Organisers, models and onlookers of Illawarra’s Top Model got more than they bargained for in September when a late entrant crashed the catwalk. Models maintained their poise and didn’t miss a beat during the man's scantily clad appearance, while the crowd in Crown Street Mall initially thought it was part of the show.
Corrimal man sues after pizza never arrived: A court awarded Tim Driscoll $1203.27 after waiting 18 months for a Domino’s pizza delivery. He ordered three pizza’s online on Anzac Day 2015 though they never turned up, Newscorp reported in October. After querying it several times with his local Fairy Meadow store, he sued after they failed to honour a refund.
Message in a bottle sparks search off South Coast: A message dated January 2 and found by campers on a Potato Point beach sparked an air search between Broulee Island, Bermagui and Montague Island. It read “enough food for two days, boat out of fuel, scared, send help”. It also listed latitude and longitude coordinates, and names of a male and female. The search cost $4500 in resources and was later treated as a possible hoax.
Kayaker's fate a secret for the lake: In May an unmanned kayak found capsized on Lake Illawarra perplexed authorities. After an extensive land, sea and air search, police were no closer to learning the identity of a man who was spotted aboard the vessel about 2.30am, three and a half hours after it was discovered overturned just east of the Windang Bridge pylons.
Bedsheet rope found in Nowra prison escape plot: A lone car in the otherwise deserted prison carpark roused the suspicions of staff in May. When the car’s lights flashed several times in the direction of the jail, staff confronted the driver and her passenger. The women allegedly admitted they were there to collect two inmates who planned to escape. Staff searched the prison’s minimum security section and found a 20-metre rope made of bedsheets and a 10-metre electrical cord.
Wollongong men win entire island resort in raffle: In July Josh Ptasznyk and Nicolas Saravanja won their own Pacific island resort in an international raffle, shelling out just $65 for the winning ticket. With little to no hospitality experience, the pair were not planning on quitting their jobs any time soon.
Brothel customer steals mobile phone: A patron of an Oak flats brothel who demanded a refund after he, ahem, finished his business rather quickly, ended up stealing his purchased lover’s mobile phone after she refused to return the money.
Kiama's Little Blowhole sends thrillseeker dog flying: Thumper and Rukus are fixated on the rocketing water spout, and don’t mind copping its strong blast of water directly to the face. Video that did the rounds in October showed the water pushing the dogs off their feet or even into the sea, after which they would merely swim to the rocks, collect themselves and do it again.
Bomaderry man ate cannabis hidden up bum: A 37-year-old man took disposing of evidence to a new level when he ate cannabis he had hidden up his bum before he could be properly searched by police, a court heard in October.
Creepy craze spreads to Wollongong: The fad was borne in the US, where police had warned residents not to approach or engage with the clowns. With the October arrival of the craze in Australia, pages purporting to organise clown activity bloomed on social media. Some promised clown meet-ups in Illawarra suburbs including Warrawong and Berkeley, but police said the online bluster came to nothing illegal.
'Boom – there you go': A man who filmed himself removing an illegal card-skimming device from a Kiama ATM in July was praised for his “serious detective work”. Eli Maguire pulled the device off an ANZ ATM. “Check this out,” he told the thousands of people who would later see his video of the discovery. “Just found the camera. Boom – there you go.”
Pull over before you Pokemon Go: In August police announced they were increasing patrols at Wollongong’s most popular Pokestops, in search of drivers distracted by alternative reality. Patrols would target the areas surrounding Flagstaff Lighthouse and Levendi harbourside cafe – both popular stops in the Pokemon Go gamesphere.
Man scales 12-storey crane at Wollongong construction site: Police were called to a construction site on Stewart Street in Wollongong about 6.45am in January. They found a 20-year-old man on a chain that stretched from the main body of the crane to its arm. He walked the chain as if it were a tightrope while a small crowd watched with bated breath below. Wollongong police said the man wore no safety harness and police were fearful he would fall.
Description of 'fat flanno-wearing drunk' leads to arrest: Residents in Oak Flats reporting a suspected arsonist to police in November gave officers a very Aussie description of the alleged culprit, who it is believed was responsible for setting fire to two cars, a boat and a house. “There was a guy in our yard with a shaggy beard; he was fat and really drunk, he had a flanno on,” the neighbour said when asked to give identifying details of the person they’d seen at the front of their home a short time earlier.
Shameless 'goat napper' cops jail time: In April an Albion Park man who tried to ‘kid-nap’ a Barrack Heights goat named Gladys failed to proffer a reason for his bizarre actions. During his sentence hearing, a defence lawyer said he could shed no more light on why his client tried to steal the goat from her Barrack Avenue yard in the early hours of February 23, 2015. The court heard Gladys’ owner was woken by her bleating about 5.45am that morning to discover a man carrying the brown and white goat across the road, towards a parked car with an open boot.
Woman finds snake in recliner: A Bega resident had a rude awakening in June while relaxing at home on a property just outside Bega. “I was sitting in my recliner on Tuesday morning looking for my glasses and I reached down to a side pocket and there was something cold and slimy in there,” the shocked woman said. “I jumped up and couldn’t speak.” Her husband checked the chair pocket and discovered a black snake curled up inside.
South Coast fisherman bailed up by seal: A seal was caught on film chasing down fish – and a fisherman – at Merimbula in March. The seal darts back and forth only centimetres from the shoreline chasing its prey at top speed. However, it’s the a fisherman of the human variety that makes this footage even better! After catching the fish, the seal pops out on to the sand to enjoy its meal, but perhaps thinks the fisherman with his rod is a potential threat to the prized catch and goes after him.
Wollongong base jumping instructor saves man from jumping to his death: Chris McDougall was hailed for saving a beginner’s life in September after he stopped the man from flinging himself off a 110-metre high bridge without his parachute properly attached.
No we’re not joking, yes it did happen.
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