FOX: Is Sikes A Balloon Boy?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
fox is sikes a balloon boy

Two days ago, Ed Niedermeyer CBS news website that Sikes “is caught in 2 attempts to defraud his insurance company out of $60K, Just lost his house, and was fired for ‘unethical behavior’, in the middle of bankruptcy, and now this.” No reaction from CBS.

Then, nothing. Until ...Yesterday, Jalopnik was on the story. First, they had not much else to report than the swinger site. One of the Jalopnik commenters pointed out that Jalopnik has “a sibling site” called Fleshbot (definitely NSFW), so who’s to throw the first stone? That didn’t deter the Jalops. They kept on digging.

Through adroit use of Google, they found that someone had posted on that in a foreclosed house, previously owned by a Jim and Patti Sikes, ”before giving possession back to the bank ‘someone’ stole the ENTIRE kitchen out of the house……….Granite countertops, cabinets, appliances and even the lights!”

Jalopnik decided that something was fishy, and, Fleshbot be damned, they called up their colleagues at Gawker. They fired up their public records search engine – and found a – by Jalopnik standards – morass of incriminating information about Sikes.

This led to the Jalopnik headline “ Did Bankrupt Runaway Prius Driver Fake “Unintended Acceleration?” They unearthed a bankruptcy filing that allegedly (it was redacted) said that the Sikes “have a combined liability of over $700,000 dollars in debt.” According to the document, Toyota Financial Services was named as a creditor to the tune of $20,494, owed at the time of bankruptcy. Jalopnik contrasted this to an email they received from Jim Sikes that claims “we are and have always been up to date on all payments.”

Then, Jalopnik heard “rumors that Sikes has a history of items in his possession being stolen and him filing for insurance claims.” The bankruptcy documents named a saxophone and clothes, stolen from a car (of unnamed provenance) with a value of $2500, and an insurance payment of $7.500.

After that, all hell broke loose. Fox News “uncovered a new business that Sikes appears to have started: the website” (Well, they didn’t uncover it, it was the anonymous tipster, but hey, it’s Fox.) We would have expected some on-premises candid camera work, but no. Fox did their own internet search and found more dirt on Sikes:

“In 2001, Sikes filed a police report with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department for $58,000 in stolen property, including jewelry, a prosumer mini-DV camera and gear, and $24,000 in cash.” Sikes seems to be a victim type.

Fox found “a neighbour near Sikes’ former home in Atwater” who said “I’m not surprised [if] he’d try to get money.”

Fox also found “a spokesperson with Toyota” who told FOX40 News “they’re aware of Sikes’ background.” (Hmmmmmm.)

The breathtaking piece of investigative reporting brings Fox to the conclusion: “While the California Highway Patrol doesn’t question his story, bloggers and radio listeners are wondering whether this is another ‘balloon boy’ style hoax, done for the publicity or the money.”

Ever since, speculations of a hoax by a couple with a salacious sidebusiness are all over the web and social network sites. What took them so long? (Hat tip to Jalopkink: In 10 minutes on Public Records, they found more than Fox in a day.)

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2 of 51 comments
  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Mar 15, 2010

    Put the car in friggin' NEUTRAL!!!! WHY doesn't the media say this every time one of these incidents happens? We're screwing around with lives here by not saying the obvious. Here we have people driving apparently out of control on roads surrounded with oblivious drivers unaware of the 90 MPH car approaching them. We're missing out on opportunities of instructing people to use neutral. On a side note we ate dinner with elderly Prius driving friends and of course the topic came up. I mentioned neutral and the female friend went on to say that she realized that only recently and had to practice b/c she did not in fact know where neutral was on her car. That of course scares me b/c how many people do I share the roads with in a similar situation?

  • Carquestions Carquestions on Mar 17, 2010

    March 17, 9:03 p.m. -Carquestions reports - The NewYork Prius investigation preliminary results are in - and......brake is 0% accelerator pedal 99.9% - The local Sheriff has all the details and copies of the investigators evidence. He seems rather unimpressed that there is not more to the story according to witnesses of the investigation

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂