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The case of the thumbcuffs that wouldn't budge

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Posted: Friday, April 30, 2010 12:00 am

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.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 1:41 pm on Fri, Apr 30, 2010.


    Slow news day?

  • posted at 9:50 am on Fri, Apr 30, 2010.


    To funny he will be telling this story to his grandkids. LMAO

  • posted at 7:02 am on Fri, Apr 30, 2010.


    awwww. give the kid a break. We all did something stupid and made our friends and family laugh at us. They also keep bringing it back up. Mine was almost 30 years ago and still they bring it up. Yes, it was also on the front page of the lodi news sentinnel.

  • posted at 6:30 am on Fri, Apr 30, 2010.


    I'd use them but I am all thumbs!

  • posted at 5:32 am on Fri, Apr 30, 2010.


    I first saw thumb cuffs on an episode of the Greatest American Hero during the mid-1980s. FBI agent Bill Maxwell used them once.

  • posted at 5:12 am on Fri, Apr 30, 2010.


    2 thumbs up for this story!

  • posted at 4:24 am on Fri, Apr 30, 2010.



  • posted at 1:32 am on Fri, Apr 30, 2010.


    In related news. Local youth learns there is an organ called a brain and using it wisely pays dividends.



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