Who knew cuffs existed for thumbs as well as hands?
A Lodi teenager learned Thursday that such things are real, and that they require handcuff keys in order to be unlocked.
After using such methods as dish soap for more than an hour to free his thumbs, Ryan Walbridge finally had a friend drive him to the police for help. Officer Leo Ramirez successfully freed the 19-year-old's reddened fingers, much to his relief.
Walbridge found the thumb-cuffs in his garage and said he thought they were a toy, because he'd never imagined they really existed.
Once they locked and he couldn't release them, he resorted to the Internet, where he learned that a handcuff key will work.
Lodi officers don't use the contraptions, and veteran officer Lt. Chris Piombo said he hadn't heard of a department issuing them to officers.
"I don't know who uses them — maybe Oompa Loompas," Piombo said, referring to the wee folk in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
Police do occasionally get called when people — usually youths — lock handcuffs on themselves, thinking they're toys.
An Internet search reveals plenty of websites where thumb-cuffs may be purchased, as well as toecuffs. They run as cheap as $5.35, not counting shipping.
Walbridge, his thumbs finally unshackled, said he'd learned his lesson.
"I'm putting these in the safe, and they're not coming out again," he said.