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Anarchist clown cuffed after virtual dragnet

Krusty the bicycle thief snared on net

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A clown who stole a man's bicycle at last year's Burning Man counterculture festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, breaking the poor chap's arm in the process, was tracked to a medical centre in Seattle by internet sleuths and eventually persuaded via bulletin board to give himself up.

Victim Dennis Hinkamp told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he had been riding his bicycle away from the festival's signature burning man event (wooden man, we hasten to add), when the deranged Krusty assaulted him from nowhere. "He pushed me over and the way I caught myself, I broke my arm," Hinkamp said, adding that as he tried to get up, the assailant punched him in the face and kicked him for good measure, before making his exit aboard Hinkamp's bike.

Hinkamp suffered a radial head fracture in the attack, plus two plates and 13 screws in his broken arm.

The hunt for the cantankerous Coco now began. Hinkamp's chum Jim Graham and others posted requests for information on two Burning Man bulletin boards, and soon discovered that the culprit's name was Johnny and he was a member of a group called "Anarchoclowns".

Further correspondence elicited an anonymous apology from Johnny, who declined to reveal his identity. However, a hacker mate of Graham's traced his email address to the Seattle medical centre, at which point Graham urged him to do the decent thing and turn himself in because, as Graham quite reasonably put it: "If you're a nursing student in Seattle and you're a clown, you're pretty identifiable."

And so it was that Johnny Goodman eventually came to cough up $21,000 damages and earn himself three years' probation, a ban from Burning man, bars and casinos as well as the obligation to present himself for alcohol and drug testing.

Before sentencing, Goodman apolgised in person to Hinkamp and for wasting the court's time. Hinkamp graciously accepted the apology, although whether assailant and victim then attempted to exit the building aboard a comedy wooden car which immediately shed its wheels is not noted. ®

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