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The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, Jan. 19 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Utah's home foreclosure rate dropped significantly in 2012, according to figures released this week by RealtyTrac. Foreclosure filings dropped nearly 40 percent.

Associated Press

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Loser: Sometimes, a criminal's sheer lack of conscience can be stunning. Such was the case this week with the theft of personal items from a storage shed belonging to a local family. The items had belonged to the family's mother, who recently died of cancer. They had been placed there during a home-remodeling project and were to be used as keepsakes to remind children and grandchildren of the deceased woman. Now the photos, journals, yearbooks and other mementos are gone without a trace. Crimes such as these no doubt happen frequently, many without generating any attention. The larger question is how people who perpetrate them can sleep at night.

Winner: Speaking of unthinkable crimes, a South Jordan man admitted this week he took $250,000 in life-insurance funds from a woman who was widowed in the 2007 Trolley Square shooting. But this story has a bit of a happy ending. The man, Jason Kim Brown, has paid full restitution to the woman, and he pleaded guilty to third-degree felony securities fraud. She, in turn, has since started a nonprofit organization, Circle the Wagons, that provides the resources survivors of violent crime need in order to recover from the trauma they have experienced.

Winner? Utah's home foreclosure rate dropped significantly in 2012, according to figures released this week by RealtyTrac. Foreclosure filings dropped nearly 40 percent, but the state still ranked 13th nationally. The good news isn't all rosy, however. Utah may be looking up, but 25 states saw an increase in foreclosures, and the report said that, as of this month, 26 percent of all home mortgages in the nation were seriously underwater. That's a term meaning the value of the home is much less than the money owed on it. This is a clear indication that the toxic effects of the bursting of the housing bubble five years ago continue to linger. As long as those home-owners can meet their monthly payments, the effects are minimal. But every time one of those owners dies, is forced to sell or no longer can meet the payment, the economy has to absorb the loss. No wonder economic recovery is taking so long.

Loser: A lot of people read with interest this week about the cleaning woman in Sweden who allegedly stole a train and drove it so fast it derailed and crashed into a building. Now it turns out the woman did no such thing. She accidentally started the train while cleaning it, the BBC reports. That's good news for her, sort of. She remains hospitalized with serious injuries. If a simple cleaning can do that much damage, the train company has a lot of explaining to do.

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