Craig Souza’s classic jailbreak defense: ‘I did it for love.’

Crimes of passion, bizarre mating rituals, forbidden love—it's all here in Santa Cruz. In honor of Valentine's Day, we take a look at just how strange local romance can get:

CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD: In early January, a man scared off a burglar who broke into his girlfriend’s apartment with a samurai sword. For her part, the woman grabbed a road flare from her bedside table—you know, because baseball bats and cans of mace are so two-thousand-late. When going through the couple’s kitchen drawer, police uncovered a Civil War-era rifle, a black mamba snake and an atom bomb.

PANTY GRABBIN’: In another January crime, a teenage boy was caught stealing panties from a woman’s house on Pearl Street. He was later found by police in a vacant apartment, in possession of panties from several other women. While sexy lingerie is a common Valentine’s Day gift, there are only so many ways you can please a girlfriend who won’t be satisfied with anything short of “a mountain of soiled panties from every woman on this block, so help me God.”

MAA SO HORNY: Last February, the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter celebrated V-Day with its first annual story contest. Animal lovers were invited to submit stories about the dear animals that have touched their hearts. The winner, JP Novic, penned “Nellie: Vixen with Horns” about a “naughty goat.” Turns out that “naughty is putting it lightly. This old gal with the spiked horns that are like daggers, loves to stab you in the butt if she doesn’t get her way,” reads the story.

YOU CAN FIND ME IN THE COUNTY BUILDING, BOTTLE FULL OF BUB: The County Clerk’s office will transform itself this Valentine’s Day into a “romantic wedding room,” promising to “ensure a magical and memorable ceremony” complete with roses, cupcakes and sparkling apple cider. Official ceremonies will be provided for a hundred bucks a pop and broadcast on the county’s website through its official “WedCam.” Official notice from the County Clerk: Do not be late for your special day. If you are late, you will have to reschedule for another day. Do not invite more than 15 people. That is all. Love is in the air!

SLUG LOVE: On Saturday, Feb. 16, Big Basin Redwoods State Park will lead a walk called “Romance in the Redwoods,” which will teach walkers about the courtship behaviors of plants and animals in the park, including banana slugs and redwood trees. Some behaviors, as we all know, are surprisingly similar to humans. For example, mountain lions are notorious for drunk texting their ex’s.

LIKE BONNIE AND CLYDE, KINDA: Two couples were caught trying to spice things up by breaking the law, and not in the “tee hee, we just had sex on a public beach” kind of way. In July, a couple opened several unauthorized credit cards in another person’s name, and bought computers from the Santa Cruz Best Buy store. Then in January, a man and woman went on a bike-stealing rampage, breaking windows and hearts at two cycle shops along Mission Street and stealing $5,000 worth of merchandise.

AVAST YE, UCSC!: U.S. News ranked UCSC on its list of 2013’s Best Colleges, giving a special shout out to Harlequin romance novelist Jayne Ann Krentz as one of the top five most notable alumni. Krentz is the author of such titles as Sizzle and Burn, Gentle Pirate and Fired Up. In related news, the institution has recently announced it will launch a Feminist Studies Ph.D. program in the fall.

A LOVER, NOT A FIGHTER: Late last month on a Saturday afternoon, a drunk man was challenging random passersby to fight along West Cliff Ave. When someone finally took him up on it, he surprised everyone by instead dropping his pants and sticking his finger where the sun doesn’t shine. He was also in possession of a pair of brass knuckles. What did he plan to use them for? Police interfered before anyone could find out.

WHAT I DID FOR LOVE: In June, an inmate escaped from the Santa Cruz County Jail for the first time in nearly a decade. While being booked, Craig Souza, who has been in the jail a total of 23 times, said he was worried about the toll his frequent stints behind bars were taking on his marriage and said he escaped because he wanted to see his wife again. “I want everyone to know that I did it for love,” he told KSBW.