An odorous gas is released when robbers break the lock, causing immediate and uncontrollable vomiting
While no city in the world is a stranger to bike thefts, a designer in San Francisco is hoping to tackle the scourge through chemical warfare. Daniel Idzkowski’s design, named the SkunkLock, contains a spray that fires in the direction of any thief attempting to drill open the device to nab the bike, so noxious that it causes the robber to uncontrollably vomit.
Inspired by a friend’s misfortunes – his pal had used two locks, each priced at $120 (€110) and both of which failed to stop the bike from being taken – Idzkowski came up with the idea for the SkunkLock.
“I realised there really is no solution to this problem,” he told The Guardian. “The biggest problem in this industry is that people don’t know that the lock that they bought for $20 (€18) is absolutely worthless. It costs at least $100 (€92) to have at least somewhere close to where you can at least curb the chances of a thief wanting to steal your bike.”
Working with his co-inventor Yves Perrenoud, the pair used steel and carbon to a build a traditional u-shaped lock, but which contains three pressurised chambers filled with gas solutions of their own invention. When a thief breaks 30% into the lock, the gas rushes through the hole created by a power drill, right in the direction of the person attempting to take the bike.
“It’s pretty much immediately vomit inducing, causes difficulty breathing,” said Idzkowski. “A lot of similar symptoms to pepper spray.”
The designers have created a number of different repellent gases in order for them to be compliant with legal statutes across the 50 state, as well as with EU nations. While the device has yet to be field tested on an actual bicycle thief, its creators and volunteers have been victims of the gas, describing it as “pretty bad” and “very unpleasant.”
The spray also clings to skin and clothes, meaning the thief would need to shower and change what they are wearing in order to rid themselves of the smell. But that does not mean they cannot return to the scene of their attempted crime and finish the job off.
“You can’t prevent a theft 100%, so that’s why we call it a deterrent lock, not a solution. All you have to do is be better than the bike across the street,” Idzkowski added.
The SkunkLock is currently seeking backers on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo and is expected to go to market by June 2017.