Bunhill: Water guns hit jackpot

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The Independent Online
LATE LAST year the normally reliable ticket machines at Stuttgart's urban rail system began to break down. It appeared that unidentified liquids had got into the sensitive innards of the system. Even worse, the coin drums, which should have held hundreds of DM5 coins, were empty.

The Germans put dozens of private detectives on to the case and, following several arrests, the truth emerged. In the words of Railway Gazette International: 'Two children eventually confessed to being the 'inventors' of the trick.

'A comic had distributed a water pistol as a gift. The children had squirted water into the coin slot of a ticket machine and as they were walking away they heard a clanking sound. Turning round, they saw the machine busily spitting out DM5 coins on to the pavement.

'Sensing an easy way to riches, they squirted water into another machine and were thrilled when it responded in the same way. Being of a generous nature, they could not resist spreading the word among friends.'

By the time the authorities had inserted plastic films and drains into the system, the losses were not far short of pounds 750,000. Because most of the 'criminals' were minors, they couldn't recover the losses.