From a woo-worthy alligator to a prancing naked man, 2011 was filled with memorable characters.
The Times presents the year's most bizarre police stories as the year draws to a close, involving region residents and some strange situations.
Passing the buck to Frosty
LAPORTE COUNTY | A Michigan City man in early February told police a snowman was driving his Chevrolet Blazer when it got stuck on railroad tracks.
Aaron Kelly was charged with misdemeanor operating while intoxicated related to the incident at 3:30 a.m. Feb. 5 in the area of Earl and County Line roads.
A LaPorte County sheriff's deputy who arrived at the scene said Kelly turned off the ignition after revving his engine to try to free the Blazer from the rails.
Police said Kelly told the deputy that he didn't know how he wound up on the tracks, saying, ''I think a snowman brought me here.''
He also stated he'd been drinking but added, "I'm not driving. It was the snowman," police said.
Kelly was charged after declining to take a breath test.
A pain in the butt
VALPARAISO | A Center Township man was injured in March when authorities said he accidentally shot himself in the butt with a semiautomatic handgun.
Officers were called about 3:30 p.m. March 29 to the emergency room at Porter hospital in Valparaiso after doctors treated a man for a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Porter County Sheriff's Department said.
The Center Township man told police the gun accidentally discharged when he and another man were working on a car inside a Washington Township pole barn. The Times is not naming the man because he was not charged with a crime.
The man said he and the other man had just finished their work and were packing up when he attempted to place his .45-caliber Kimber semiautomatic handgun into his waistband, police said. The man told police the gun discharged as he slid the gun against the right side of his back. The man said the bullet passed through his right buttock and struck his calf muscle.
The man was treated for his injuries and released. After inspecting the firearm, police returned it to him.
FORD HEIGHTS | Police removed a 4-foot alligator in May from the home of a man who said he was keeping it as a pet to attract women, authorities said.
Dewayne Yarbrough, of Ford Heights, was charged with possession of a dangerous animal.
Investigators with the Cook County Sheriff's Department Animal Crimes Unit had received information that Yarbrough was keeping an American alligator in confined conditions at his home. They secured a search warrant and went to Yarbrough's home May 5, where they found an alligator in a fish tank in the kitchen, police said.
Yarbrough told police he bought the alligator for $200 five years ago in Indiana. He said he kept it as a pet because it attracted women.
To keep the size of the alligator down, Yarbrough kept it in a small tank and fed it only once a month — a meal of 10 live mice, police said. American alligators traditionally average between 8 and 14 feet in length.
Police and Cook County Animal Control secured the alligator and took it to the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge. It later was expected to go to the Chicago Herpetological Society.
No Father Christmas
GARY | A man was arrested in May after leaving his wallet at a vacant home he allegedly helped loot for scrap metal, police said.
A worker for a company that owns a vacant home in the 400 block of Jackson Street went to check on the house May 12 and found a window had been smashed.
After entering the home, he saw the piping had been cut out and a water meter taken. He found a wallet about two feet away from the broken window, police said.
The wallet contained identification for Terrence Christmas, of Gary, who later admitted he had gone into the house, taken a bag of metal and sold it with a friend for scrap, police said. He denied breaking into the home.
He was arrested May 13 and charged with felony burglary and criminal mischief.
Saving them for later
VALPARAISO | Police were forced to throw away a package of cookies after a Valparaiso woman was accused of stuffing it down her underwear.
Faith Green, of Valparaiso, faces charges of theft, public intoxication, resisting law enforcement and criminal mischief. Her son Anthony Green, of Joliet, faces charges of resisting law enforcement and drunken driving.
Valparaiso police reportedly found the Greens, both allegedly intoxicated, about 3:15 a.m. Aug. 17 inside Pilot Travel Center, 4105 Morthland Drive.
An employee told officers Faith Green reportedly caused $200 in damage to the gas station's restroom, "severely damaging" the toilet.
As an officer was removing the woman from the store, she reportedly began unloading snack cakes and candy bars from her bra.
Officers said Anthony Green then began cursing at them before leaving the store and heading back to his SUV. Police said when he was told to stop, he took a fighting stance with officers. He backed down, police said, after they threatened to use a Taser to subdue him.
Police said the two were taken to Porter County Jail, where officers reportedly found a pack of cookies in Faith Green's underwear.
'Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs'
An Illinois man was charged in September after marching with a "samurai sword" on Interstate 65 south of 61st Avenue, Indiana State Police said.
Cicero, Ill., resident Bryon Womack, who initially identified himself as "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" when police asked for his name, was charged with attempted carjacking, resisting law enforcement and possession of marijuana.
State troopers came across a shirtless Womack carrying a nearly 3-foot-long sword on the inner shoulder of Interstate 65 about 2:30 p.m. Sept. 4 in Merrillville, police said. The 43-year-old was discovered south of an abandoned Toyota, which was left in the middle lane of the expressway near U.S. 30.
Womack swung the 35-inch-long sword in a defensive manner as officers approached him but dropped it when ordered, police said.
When Merrillville police showed up at the scene, a motorist had to swerve to avoid hitting the police car and the man. When that Chevrolet SUV came to a stop, Womack attempted to get into it until he was ordered to the ground at gunpoint, police said.
At Lake County Jail, Womack told police he was "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" instead of giving them his name. He later was identified.
No tan lines for this man
LAPORTE | Earlier this year, LaPorte County police investigated complaints about a naked man walking in his backyard.
"They should be able to enjoy their yards without having to see some naked guy prancing through his yard," said John Boyd, LaPorte County police chief of detectives.
The Times is not naming the man because he has not been charged with a crime.
One woman reported she was watching TV on July 8 with her 18-year-old son when they looked out their living room window and spotted the man again in his birthday suit, police said. The woman told police he walked around his backyard swimming pool and into the garden, where he was "sunning himself" before going back inside his residence on Aspen Lane.
Boyd said several complaints about the man, who is in his late 50s or early 60s, had been filed since Memorial Day.
Boyd said criminal charges could result because there is only a chain-link fence around the man's property. Without a privacy fence, the view by his neighbors is unobstructed.
Police later told The Times the problem was resolved without filing criminal charges.