Cameoed BMW causes NYC scare

Unlike Detroiters and residents of any major auto-building town, New Yorkers aren't used to camouflaged vehicles on city streets.

Last Sunday, Martin Birkmann, a manager for BMW of North America, left a camouflaged model-year 2011 prototype X3 crossover running near the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park in New York City. Birkmann apparently didn't fully depress the start/stop button when he left the car parked and strolled off.

The bizarrely painted car with black cloth over the instrument panel scared a passer-by, who called the police. Remember that less than a week earlier, an unexploded bomb was found in a SUV left in Times Square.

The bomb squad closed off several city streets for about 90 minutes. Since police couldn't see what was inside the X3, they smashed the rear window. No bomb. Birkmann got a ticket for leaving an idling car on the street.

This being New York, he also got chided for being a "dopey BMW employee" and a "boneheaded BMW driver" by the New York Daily News.