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Would-Be Thief Gets Stuck in Vending Machine

Talk about embarrassing moments. A teenager in National City, southern California, had to sit in public for over an hour with his arm caught in a soda vending machine. And he had no one to blame but himself.

Around five in the morning at a trolley station on the west end of 22nd Street, the seventeen-year-old boy must have decided he was really thirsty. Allegedly seeking to steal a drink, he put his arm up to the shoulder in the receiving slot of a Coke vending machine, and then he couldn’t get pull his arm out. Passing trolley riders saw him trapped and in trouble and called emergency services.

The number of people showing up must have made him feel even worse. Trolley security, police officers, firemen, and paramedics all arrived on the scene shortly. Then, while he sat helplessly by his skateboard, they worked for an hour trying to free him from the grip of the soda vending machine.

Michael LaFreniere of the National City Fire Department said, “Initially, we thought if we could get ahold of somebody to come out that had a key that we would be able to open up the door and access the machine and do very little damage, but nobody had the key.” Without keys, the rescue workers turned to larger tools, an axe and a crowbar. They soon realized those wouldn’t force the door of the vending machine open. Finally, they used a rotary saw and an air chisel from a fire engine which they had to call in.

At last the door was open, and the teen’s arm was loosed from the vending machine. Paramedics treated him on-site for minor abrasions and soreness of the arm, caused by trying many times to pull his arm out.

Then police took the young man into custody. They did not release his identity since he was a minor, but they did tell the news that he was a student at Sweetwater High School.

After all of that to-do, the teen never did get a soda. Nor is he likely to be able to afford one any time soon. He will probably face a charge for petty theft, and he also may have to pay expenses for emergency services and damage to the soda vending machine.