Local Shrink Ray Inventor Solves Crime Spree
Local inventor Jake Sampson came forward on Wednesday of this week to help police solve a string of seemingly unrelated robberies.
Sampson, 44, invented a shrink ray gun several years ago. He says he uses it mainly around the house.
"Well, except for when I go to my Uncle Bud's junk yard and shrink up the piles of junk for him. But that's just sensible. That's just ecology. I go to the county dump once a month and do it for them too. Oh, and then there are all those tires that the Firestone folks need shrunk up, and of course the recycling.
We're big on the plastic recycling not getting to sit around and muck up the ground water here in Medina. We shrink it right up and put it in a file cabinet down at city hall. There's 52,000 plastic milk jugs filed in an 8 x 10 manila envelope under 'J' in the mayor's office," said Sampson.
"I invented the shrink ray back in 1997 right after my truck died," continued Sampson "I couldn't fit my dog or his giant bags of dog food into my VW, so I figured out a way to make them smaller for easier transport."
The gun could be easily overlooked since it looks so ordinary. For the body of the gun Sampson used a bar coder that he picked up in a retail auction.
Sampson said that about two weeks ago he was in his back yard using the ray gun to enlarge the riding lawn mower that he had purchased and then shrunk and carried home in his pocket.
His neighbor, Joe Thornton, 51, came around the corner of the garage and witnessed the restoration of the lawn mower.
Thornton asked to borrow the gun to bring home a tractor that he said he had just purchased and Sampson loaned it to him.
Over the next three days Thornton shoplifted a tractor, side by side refrigerator, a living room suite, a hot tub, a revolving bed, a floor freezer, an entire side of beef, and a pack of gum.
Sampson read about the mysterious string of robberies in the paper and put two and two together after he went to Thornton's house to reclaim the shrink ray gun and saw the new furniture in Thornton's living room. The living room had previously been decorated with a rusty lawn chair and a beer cooler.
"After the cops had him in handcuffs, I asked him what the hell he was thinking about using my ray gun like that to break the law and all, and he said that he had just intended to steal the tractor, but then the other stuff was just so fancy he couldn't help himself. And that he likes gum," said Sampson.
Reported by Karen Schindler of Miscellaneous Yammering June 5, 2009