The Adventures of Florida Man

This posting inaugurates a new category of posting: The Adventures of Florida Man; the mythic superhero of popular culture who crops up periodically in police blotters.

Google news is great for this sort of thing, because you can save a search for “Florida man”+”arrested” and it’ll update you with his adventures in a section of your front page. There are other tools for doing this sort of thing but I still sometimes use google.

From Newsweek [nw]

Florida Man Finds Grenade While Magnet Fishing but Drives to Taco Bell Before Calling Cops, Sparking Evacuation

A Florida man caused an evacuation at a Taco Bell in Ocala this weekend after telling cops he drove there with a hand grenade he found while magnet fishing.

In social media updates yesterday, officials from the Ocala Police Department advised citizens to avoid the area after it was verified that the device was an “authentic WWII hand grenade.”

It appeared that the man, who was not identified by law enforcement, had waited until arriving at the popular fast food restaurant before reporting his discovery to the authorities.

The department said bomb squad experts had to be called onto the scene to remove the grenade, which they fortunately did so without incident. The Taco Bell closed for about an hour.

The police Twitter account wrote earlier: “Be advised that the Taco Bell on East Silver Springs Blvd. has been evacuated, following report of an explosive device located in a vehicle on premises.”

It’s not a bad idea to know how to recognize inert armaments from live ones. 10 years ago, one of my neighbors asked me, “do you think you might want this? I know you have all kinds of weird junk…” and handed me a live German 88mm antiaircraft round. I did not poop myself on the spot because I know the fuses on those things are rather stable. Rather. There was a team of guys drilling holes to drop explosives in so they could sono-map for gas for fracking and I dropped by there, explained the situation, asked if they had a deep hole they were going to be filling over, and now that round is 150 feet down where it’s not likely to ever bother anyone. Unless someone goes magnet fishing down mining bore-holes, that is.

Unlike Florida Man, I did not call the police because – as you can see – they are duty bound to take the safest course of action (if you are white) but I figured I’d wind up on some terrorist watch-list, or in Gitmo. On the other hand, it takes the steely courage of Florida Man to drive around with something like that in his car. I’ve seen hand grenades go off (a few seconds after I threw them as far from me as I could, which is “not far enough”) and those things are terrifying.


  1. komarov says

    I dropped by there, explained the situation, asked if they had a deep hole they were going to be filling over

    That must have been an interesting conversation (I imagine the 911 operator from Florida felt the same way). I have enough trouble striking up a normal conversation so I’d probably not have fared well at all in that situation. Then again given the description of their job, maybe these people have had similar requests before, ones involving all sorts of oddities that need to be disposed of permanently and/or discreetly. Waste chemicals, “pet” bones deserving of a proper burial…

    But I don’t suppose they reacted with, “Oh, hey, it’s another Flak shell…”?

  2. says

    But I don’t suppose they reacted with, “Oh, hey, it’s another Flak shell…”?

    There’s a bit more back-story. At that time I was renting some space on my property for them to store a magazine of high explosives. It was a great deal for me, they paid $1200 a month and the thing was monitored with all kinds of special alarms including (apparently) satellite. So: no way to make an unscheduled withdrawal. I wandered by and asked to talk to the supervisor, because I thought they might want to, you know, drop it into a hole before they fired their shot. And the supervisor said “hellz yeah!” and called me the next day and said he’d thought it over and they’d “lose the thing down the hole” but wouldn’t try to set it off. And so it happened.

    It’s surprising how much live ammo GIs brought back from various troubles in various places. Sazz told me of a Vietnam vet who smuggled home a case of C4 and some AK47s. Now, a normal person would think, “that’s a lot of modelling clay to give your kid” or something like “I do not want that in my basement!” but an American Red Blooded Gun Nut is going to grab that kind of thing, if it kills everyone in their house. Fortunately, it’s generally safe – until it’s not.

    If you talk to cops who’ve worked around here long enough, most of them have a story reminiscent of that great scene in Hot Fuzz where they find the American Red Blooded Gun Nut, England Version.

  3. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#1:
    Off-topic: I’m Cybersecurity Consultant MacKenzie Brown, and This Is How I Work
    She doesn’t even make knives so I don’t know if she can be any good.

    Often how good they are is dependent on their tools, and their familiarity with the tools (says the former tool-smith). I’m glad to see cybersecurity is getting less gender-dominated; we still have a very long way to go.

    I’m also glad to see that being a “penetration tester” is being de-emphasized in favor of a more consultative approach, in which the security practitioner works with and advises the client. Basic penetration testing is pretty dumb, in my opinion. Most of the industry disagrees with me about that. And, oddly, the basis of my disagreement is like my disagreement about psychology – it has to do with testing methodologies and epistemology and science. So, I will forgive you if you decide to interpret that as “Marcus is also a crank about that” although I did have quite a bit to do with forming the computer security industry as it exists today, so maybe I know what I’m talking about there. (I may have trained her teachers or her teachers’ teachers)

  4. says

    Re: Red Blooded American Gun Nuts
    I made the mistake of casually mentioning to a Red Blooded American Gun Nut that you can buy high explosive by the case from, if you know what the primary ingredients of certain things happen to be. You still can, too. Anyway, the Red Blooded American Gun Nut proceeded to buy 5 cases of the stuff and stash them someplace. Because, I dunno, that’s why!
    It’s this irrational urge to have something you are not supposed to have, which is the same thing that we’ve discussed as a possible driver of the whole Tactical scene. I’m pretty sure that if you told the Tactical crowd that this particular stuff is high explosive, it’d be sold out and Amazon would be nonplussed by the spike in sales of some normally uninteresting products.

    I’m not going to confirm or deny or even make a funny expression if people start guessing what I am referring to. Note that, if people start guessing: you should not. Why? What if there are other high explosive precursors on Amazon and we start a discussion about that, and all the Red Blooded American Gun Nuts who read this blog discover more ways to make things that go bang unexpectedly. It’s the “unexpectedly” part, as they say, that kills you.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    although I did have quite a bit to do with forming the computer security industry as it exists today, so maybe I know what I’m talking about there.

    I was with you right up until that bit. Would you say that the computer security situation is in good shape? Is it something that would do you credit?

  6. komarov says

    Bringing back unstable souvernirs isn’t an exclusively American tradition. Every so often we get some news stories about idiots wanna-be collectors causing trouble with WW1 (yes, one) shells they found on some old battlefield. I think the people running the Eurostar trains may have had to remind their passengers not to travel with highly explosve luggage on more than one occasion.

    Maybe people think that if those things haven’t gone off in a hundred years they’re not going to do so now. I, on the other hand, think the irresponsible idiocy of taking a rusty artillery shell on a train is truly breathtaking. I’d say “awe-inspiring” but it’s difficult to be awed when you’re turning blue. Compared to something like that taking a few assault rifles and some fresh and unused C4 home is practically harmless.

    Perhaps the main difference between European and American collectors is the ready access to warzones. Yes, we often go along* whenever our Good Reliable Allies start another Thing** fucking bombing campaign somewhere but the US is first in, last out and always has something going on. I’d imagine some locals have also stashed away the odd bit of kit but in their case I might understand if they said they need it.

    *My worst euphemism yet, I’m sorry.
    **Hot contender.

    P.S.: I may have unfairly lumped all Europeans together. [BBC]

    An official with SNCF, France’s national railway, told the BBC that such incidents were happening “fairly regularly”.

    “It’s always Brits,” he said.

    Sincere apologies to non-british Europeans everywhere.

  7. says

    A good while back I saw a forum post someplace that showed a bunch of guns that had been seized in Iraq, including some WW2 vintage goodies. (Might have been MP40s or StG44s, I can’t remember) In any case some of the posters were sad the guns wouldn’t be brought back to the United States, but would be destroyed instead.

  8. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#6:
    I was with you right up until that bit. Would you say that the computer security situation is in good shape? Is it something that would do you credit?

    Well, I feel that collectively we understand a lot about security, and the problems and their solutions. A lot of good work was done, and in the cases where things were done as suggested, they worked quite well. The problem is that the customers themselves preferred to be seduced with snake-oil, so there is a tremendous amount of security that is largely theater. It’s one of those “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink” situations. In many cases, industry trends are exactly the opposite direction from what many security practitioners have recommended for years. In conversations I have had with business leaders, some of them have said things to the effect that “security is soooooo unwieldy; it’s hard.” And, they try what the snake-oil salesmen tell them. When it fails, it’s only customer data or an expensive control system failure; it’s never the fault of the snake-oil salesmen or the executive that made the decision – usually someone says “see? Security is hard!” and it’s lather up, rinse, and repeat again. I refuse to accept any of the blame for that. My peers and I have consistently warned against doing that, and the blame for it lies squarely on the snake-oil salesmen and execs who decided that sloppy and fast was better than deliberate and solid. Back around 1995-7 I used to teach classes in secure programming under UNIX. They were popular – with security practitioners; developers hardly ever showed up. Developers learned that if you throw code over the wall and get the customer’s money, all you have to do is keep your foot in the door and you can throw versions at them until it mostly does not suck – or, if it’s Adobe PDF viewer or Flash interpreter you can keep throwing versions at them until 15 years later your market niche closes. And, of course, there are users who cling onto running some utterly wretched stuff. I think our job ended at the point where we explained how the code was bad and what its consequences would be. Then, all that’s left to do is clean-up and say “I told you so.”

    I regret how optimistic I once was. By 1997 we had most of the necessary technology to lick the problem, it was a matter of willpower and getting the job done. It seemed doable. But the last decade has been a nightmarish period, as we begin to see the gigantic iceberg that ripped security open below the water-line – The US Government, mostly, but China, Russia, and Israel with help from Canada, the UK and Australia, acted independently but in concert to subvert pretty much all the systems. Should security practitioners take the blame for seeing that coming but being unable to stop it? I think not. Nor should we take the blame for telling everyone “Facebook is not going to be a good custodian of your data, and neither is Google” now everyone is shocked, shocked, the snake-oil salesmen won again.

    I don’t accept the blame for that. Doing things right is just too damn hard. We had the problem sorted but the damn horse wouldn’t drink and just stared at us and said “but gmail is free!”

  9. sonofrojblake says

    A quick Google turned up “Florida Man arrested for trying to pay for McDonalds with marijuana”. Thanks for this, it’ll be a regular search for me from now on…

  10. lochaber says

    I’ve got some prior enlisted experience, and while I never saw combat (awkwardly thankful for that), I knew quite a few other fellow-enlisted who managed to get some smoke grenades and such out of training events, and can only imagine that an active combat theater is a lot looser on the inventories.

    Also, we did a couple training bits with dummy grenades. I don’t know how true it was, but what we heard was that we were basically given the same fuse assembly (pin, spoon, and blasting cap?) that goes in the live grenades, and we just screwed them into a “dummy” grenade, that was a hollow metal ball.

    I really hope those fuses weren’t the same ones used on actual live grenades, because they were unreliable as all hell. It wasn’t uncommon to have one go off right after the spoon popped off. I can’t even imagine trying to do something like trying to time it for an “air burst” or whatever.

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