The Christmas season is upon us, which means millions of Americans are buying gifts online to brighten the holidays for themselves and others, and having those gifts shipped directly to their homes or the homes of their loved ones.
That also means that package thieves are out there doing their worst to ruin the holidays for innocent victims with delivered boxes sitting unattended by their front doors.
Package thievery is nothing new, and many of those targeted have found numerous and ingenious ways to fight back or get revenge on package thieves, but few have matched the fantastic method of deterring porch pirates that was devised by a former NASA engineer.
The Huffington Post reported Tuesday on the incredible, and hilarious, creation of ex-NASA engineer Mark Rober, who had previously worked on NASA’s “Curiosity” Mars rover and now puts his engineering skills to other uses, including the creation of a non-explosive combination glitter/stink-bomb device rigged up with cameras and disguised as an ordinary package to get revenge on package thieves.
That mission was a personal one for Rober, who himself has been a victim of a package thief. He devoted six months to developing the device and documented its creation — as well as the end results — in a viral video posted to YouTube.
Rober explained how the device is controlled by a circuit board with an accelerometer and GPS system that detects movement and triggers four cellphones to activate and begin recording. Those cellphone cameras with wide-angled lenses are all carefully positioned to provide a 360-degree view once the box is opened.
Furthermore, the GPS system provides the location of the package at all times, and the phones are also equipped with an LTD connection to automatically upload the videos to the cloud in case the package can’t be retrieved later.
Nestled inside of the device is a can of noxious-smelling “fart spray” rigged with a cam and small motor that, after a slight delay, begins to dispense five sprays every 30 seconds. Rober noted that it typically only takes one solitary spray of the foul concoction to clear a room.
Then we get to what Rober described as his “pièce de résistance” of the whole device, a motorized cup full of glitter that rapidly spins when triggered and evenly disburses a cloud of the sparkly stuff over everything in the near vicinity.
The package is then made to look normal with shrink wrap or tape and an address label, which hilariously pays homage to the inspiration behind the device — MacCauley Caulkin’s “Kevin McAllister” character from the “Home Alone” movies.
Indeed, the return address was to Kevin McAllister at the actual home the movie was filmed in, while the package itself was addressed to home invaders “Harry and Marv,” the bumbling criminals that Kevin repeatedly bested with a series of makeshift yet ingenious traps.
Once Rober had finished describing how the device worked, he began to show it in actual use, both in tests and through the inclusion of actual footage obtained from five separate instances when thieves stole the fake package and learned the hard way not to mess with an ex-NASA engineer.
Without a doubt, the most common reactions heard from the tricked thieves was a surprised “What the f—!?!” shortly followed by a confused “What’s that smell?” as they quickly moved to ditch the rigged package and attempt to clean up the impossible to get rid of glitter.
You can skip to about the 5:30 mark of the video to see the package thieves get exactly what they deserve, or you can watch the entire 11 minute video to see how it all came together, which is truly fascinating.
Package thieves and porch pirates are a particularly low brand of criminal, especially at Christmas time as they are jerks who steal delivered presents and ruin the holidays for everyone.
This special form of glittery and smelly revenge against those thieves is enough to make it all worthwhile, though — at least when a video can capture their reactions to the foul-smelling and glitterific justice.
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