Package theft is nothing new, but in this era of Amazon Prime and 1-Click ordering, expensive items are disappearing from porches at an alarming rate. People have taken all sorts of measures to protect their property—but no one has gone as far as Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer who, in an act of vigilante justice, took a stand against parcel thieves by building custom “glitter bombs.”
When one of Rober’s packages went missing from his front porch and the cops did nothing about it, he felt helpless. That’s when he decided he would use his highly credentialed engineering background to teach these “dishonest punks” a lesson they would never forget.
Rober’s bait package was cleverly disguised as an expensive Apple HomePod—but underneath the packaging was a pound of extra-fine glitter wired to a spring-loaded catapult. As if that wasn’t enough, Rober included a tube fart spray for good measure.
What made this parcel a true feat of engineering, however, was that it also included four smartphones with wide-angle lenses so that the entire event could be recorded. This required months of work to figure out how to get the cameras to record at the right time, and then to transmit that information back to Rober.
The final result is very satisfying—almost too satisfying, as it turned out. Rober got his sweet revenge, detailed in five wonderfully compelling videos documenting the thieves’ reactions to the glitter spinning out from the package in an iridescent mushroom cloud and the noxious fumes that accompany it.
The festive nature of the glitter bomb wasn’t lost on Rober: “I just wanted to celebrate their choice of profession with a cloud of glitter, because, I mean, who doesn’t love glitter?”
As it turned out, though, unbeknownst to Rober, two of the five reaction videos were fakes—the “thieves” were actually accomplices of the friend of a friend he had enlisted to help him catch the package crooks.
Rober took to Twitter to apologize, and underscore that most of what you see remains true. “So much time, thought, money and effort went into building the device,” he says. “I hope this doesn’t just taint the entire effort as fake.”
One thing’s for sure: Any would-be thief who’s seen Rober’s video will think twice before snatching and running, making porch packages just a little bit safer for the rest of us.