Well kidlings, it's time for another round of "You Can't Make Up This Stuff," the game based on my brother Big Rob's theory that reality is stranger than any fiction. As usual, when we play this game we begin with an item from Big Rob's stomping grounds of Flint.


The good news here is that a Flint resident could pick up a quick $1,000. It's part of an effort to shut down sort of a Home Shopping Network for crooks. The bad news is a national TV show has already lost $10,000 in Flint and stands to lose more. 

“A $1,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for breaking into eleven Flint rental homes to steal water heaters and furnaces. The properties are featured in “Just Renting," a reality show about flipping Flint homes into rentals that premiered on the Heartland Network on Aug. 25.  The break-ins have cost the property management company around $10,000 in damages.” 


Basically, the crooks just see the show on TV and go “shopping” at the vacant properties. “We just can’t afford to tape. ,We still have to find a way to make it work. What we’re having to do right now is take all properties listed for rent off the market. Now we can’t rent them, which is a loss of rents.”


Flint police are on the case, but are already stretched thin. Their best advice to the TV show backers? “Rent out the homes faster.” (


If someone does buy or rent one of those homes in Flint, they will certainly want to sleep there (if for no other reason than to guard their investment). In order to do that may require a long-term loan. And the item with the longest term in the house could possibly be their mattress. Some mattress deals require and MBA nowadays. “A six-year loan to buy a mattress is longer than the average new-car loan, which was 69.7 months in September, according to car-research site Edmunds.” 


Even so, more people are buying mattresses on time than ever before. “Jerry Epperson, a mattress industry veteran and managing director of investment banking and corporate advisory firm Mann, Armistead & Epperson, said more than half of all mattresses are purchased with credit.” Who knew counting sheep is big business?  (


While that is going on inside the house, some care needs to be taken outside. One thing to absolutely do is fill in the holes in your yard. Why? “The safety experts at discovered America’s phobias. They analyzed internet searches for nearly 40 different 'fear of' terms, focusing on the top 15. They gathered Google Trends data to determine the top phobia in each state.”


It turns out that Michigan suffers from trypophobia: the fear of holes. “We aren't the only ones who have this fear. Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island and South Carolina also fear holes.” 


This is actually logical because, as stated in a Detroit Free Press article: “Given we are the unofficial pothole capital of the nation, this makes A LOT of sense.” I agree. There are so many potholes on my street any time a pickup truck (or larger) goes by the vibrations set off every Ring doorbell in the neighborhood.  (


One group that does not have to worry about financing a mattress or filling in front yard potholes are millennial millionaires. Here's the kicker. Most of them live nearby. “The top zip code for millionaire millennials isn’t in Southern California or New York City. Nope, according to a new report,  the surprise No. 1 spot is none other than Traverse City.” 


Who are these folks? “According to the report, there are approximately 618,000 millennial millionaires in the United States in 2019. The vast majority, about 93 percent, have a net worth between $1 million and $2.49 million. Millennials are projected to inherit $68 trillion from predecessors in what financial experts have dubbed 'The Great Wealth Transfer.' Millennial millionaires are projected to become one of the richest and most influential generations in history.” 


What do they do with all that cash? “Millennial millionaires value walkable neighborhoods, about 92 percent have purchased property, and 77 percent are interested in home improvement as a way to personalize their space. About 56 percent donate to charities.” (


Finally, my favorite “you can't make it up” item of the week might fall into the “Good-help-is-hard-to-find” category. I was intrigued by an article titled: “Hitman outsourced a murder to hitman, who hired hitman, who hired hitman, who hired hitman.”


See, in China a real estate developer named Tan Youhui wanted to kill a rival developer. Follow along. “Tan paid Xi Guangan around $282,800 for the job. Xi then took the money, and used half to hire another hitman, Mo Tianxiang, to do the job. Around the same time, Mo subcontracted another hitman, Yang Kangsheng — paying him around $38,000 upfront and promising around $71,000 when the murder was completed. Yang then offered the job to a fourth man, Yang Guangsheng, with a similar up-front payment of around $28,000 and another $71,000 when the job was done. The second Yang ended up tasking the hit to a fifth man, Ling Xiansi, for a measly $14,000.”


But here's where things went sideways. “Ling ended up reaching out to the rival developer to tell him about the hit out for him. Ling and the developer ended up faking the murder, staging an image of the developer with his hands tied — which then circulated through the chain of hitmen back to Tan, the businessman who hired the first hitman. The developer, however, reported his would-be murder to police.”


A Chinese court put all the would-be hitmen in the slammer for the crime of intentional homicide. My guess is the six are no longer on Angie's List as preferred sub-contractors. (


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and