Prankster's pals turn room into
man-size hamster cage
Olympia resident finds new apartment transformed
BY DIANE HUBER
OLYMPIA — Luke Trerice knew revenge would come after he encased a friend's apartment in aluminum foil more than two years ago.
Trerice, 28, did a gleeful dance of sorts when he opened the door to his downtown apartment and found one room had become a life-size hamster cage, according to witnesses. Hand-shredded newspapers 2-feet deep covered the floor, a giant water bottle dangled outside the window
and a 6-foot hamster wheel sat prominently along one wall.
“That's what you do — you get giddy,” said the prank's mastermind, Keith Jewell, a longtime friend of Trerice and aluminum-foil victim Chris Kirk.
Back in January 2004, Trerice foiled Kirk's apartment when he was out of town.
CD cases, books, dishes in the cupboards — hardly a thing was left untouched. For two weeks, Kirk was bombarded with media calls. Cleanup took two years. A giant ball of foil still sits in the basement of the complex.
Revenge plotting began immediately.
Jewell, 26, came up with the idea for the hamster cage; it was just a matter of waiting for the perfect time. Though Kirk moved to Colombia, his friends intended to carry out the plans without him.
Trerice, too, was waiting to see what his friends would come up with. He even helped them out, making sure they knew it would be a month before he could move in to his apartment on Washington Street and Fifth Avenue after graduation from dental school in Las Vegas.
“I knew that something was happening. They made no effort to hide it,” he said.
Jewell, a theater set designer and computer networker, brought drawings to a machinist a month ago to build the frame of the wheel — two parallel 19-foot pipes looped into a ring. Using the machinist's shop, Jewell connected the rings with cross braces and hardware cloth and perched them on wheels. He suffered some head injuries when testing the ring.
“If you spin upside down, you're not gripping the bars with your feet. So of course I went head first on the concrete,” he said.
At noon the day before Trerice's planned arrival, it was crunch time. Jewell, who lives across the hall, and friends worked through the night shredding newspaper, blowing up a beach ball, installing the water bottle and filling the metal bucket with Cheetos. There wasn't time to finish lining the walls with wire fencing, put a bell in the ball or install the hand rail to try to prevent any further injuries in the wheel. A stack of newspapers still sits in the closet, unshredded.
Eight people put in more than 100 hours assembling the room. Supplies cost $300.
“It was a lot of work, but it was one of those cases where you do it because you have to,” Jewell said.
Trerice has gradually started cleaning up, but trips to the recycling bin haven't made a dent in the pool of shreds.
“I think this will take less than two years (to clean up). That's the gauge that I measure to see if I got off better than Chris did,” said Trerice, an Olympia native.
The hamster wheel has proven popular entertainment for his friends, and it will become a permanent fixture in the room. After all, it took four people to push it into an oval shape that would fit up the stairwell and through the door.
As Trerice begins his job search, he's also brainstorming.
“I'm going to start saving up for my revenge plans,” he said. “They claim they did this on (Kirk's) behalf. If they think that's going to mitigate any of the revenge that's coming, well that's even funnier than the wheel.”
Diane Huber covers the city of Lacey and its urban growth area for Lacey Today. She can be reached at 360-357-0204 or firstname.lastname@example.org