Raising a stink with bike thieves

I’m intrigued by a new bicycle lock that’s claimed to be more thief-deterrent than its predecessors.  Its Indiegogo page claims:

Many of today’s U-Locks are vulnerable to even simple hacksaws or crowbars. Some electronic locks that have fancy technology like GPS tracking and are app enabled can even be zapped into submission with an inexpensive taser. Serious thieves use serious tools like battery operated angle grinders and blow torches – that’s what it takes to cut through a quality lock. SKUNKLOCK is a hardened medium-carbon steel U-Lock that’s as difficult to compromise as the strongest U-Locks, AND comes with a surprise: it’s pressurized inside with a noxious chemical deterrent that slams the would-be thief with noxious chemicals. The chemicals are so disgusting they induce vomit in the majority of cases, and elicit an instinctive response to run away immediately.

. . .

Can’t a thief just wear a mask or protection?

Technically, yes.  Will it help them steal your bike? Probably not.  The formula that we’ve developed is detectable through even some of the most robust gas masks (unfortunately, we learned this the hard way!).  More importantly, we aren’t strictly relying on chemicals incapacitating the thief to prevent the theft.  There is no technology that can guarantee theft prevention; however, we do believe SKUNKLOCK is the best lock on the market to deter theft.  Not only does an attack on the SKUNKLOCK release chemicals onto the thief that create a scene that makes people take notice, it also has economic implications for the thief.  Our formula irreversibly ruins the clothes worn by the thief or any of the protection they may be wearing, and replacing these items is likely more expensive than the resale value of your stolen bike (generally only 1/10 of the retail price).  You don’t need to be perfect, you just have to be the best protected on your block.  So more than likely, a thief will attack a more hassle free bike parked nearby than your bike.

There’s more at the link.  Here’s a promotional video for the Indiegogo campaign.

I think it’s an ingenious idea.  However, I can think of a few drawbacks, too.

  1. What happens to your bike when the gas is released?  Doesn’t the stench make it unrideable until it’s been thoroughly cleaned?  Looks like you might strand yourself, as well as deterring a would-be thief.  Also, wouldn’t the skunk oil or whatever it is penetrate softer materials like the bike’s saddle, or any pannier or container mounted on the bike?  That would mean you’d have to replace all such items, as I’m sure the smell wouldn’t wash out.
  2. What about surrounding people and businesses?  If a thief releases the gas, and it’s sucked into a shop’s air-conditioning or heating system, it might make the entire shop unfit for habitation, and render some or all of its stock unsaleable.  I can see all sorts of lawsuits coming out of that!
  3. What if you get a thief without a working sense of smell?

I’d personally prefer a somewhat more robust deterrent;  something like the ‘Blaster‘, a South African anti-car-hijacking device, shown in action below.

Now, if one could fit something like that to a bicycle, with a gas cylinder concealed within the frame and an exhaust jet aimed up through the middle of the saddle, timed to go off as the thief rode it away . . .



  1. Am I the only one thinking that the Blaster is the perfect device to have the BLM road-blockers change their mind and allow you to go through?

  2. @Miguel: It's a nice thought, but I suspect it wouldn't be legal under US law (it's legal in South Africa, of course).

  3. As far as the bike booby trap, just rig a a shot shell in the down tube of the seat using something similar to a trip-flare type device. Lock the bike, remove a safety pin, and when someone cuts the lock and jumps on the seat, oooooops HIS bad. Give a whole new meaning to the term "forced enema".
    Of course better then that would be to figure a way to set things up so there was a small time delay – say a minute or so after the miscreant jumps on the seat to ride away – before things go boom. Probably wouldn't have to set up more than a couple of bikes this way in a city to discourage all theft.
    Am I a bad person?

  4. 0007 beat me to it!

    The Officer Commanding the EOD in the Police Force in which I served did just what 0007 suggested, except for the fact that his was deactivated by a key-fob. Have the fob and ride the bike. No fob and after about 20 feet your proctologist wouldn't want to know you. A 12-gauge magnum buckshot cartridge can do some nasty stuff.
    Fortunately the OC EOD and his bike were featured on TVB Pearl (there's a give-away) and his bike was never ever 'lifted' even though it was never locked up!

    The OC EOD had something similar arranged for his car. It involved one-time locks on all of the doors (you could NOT open them), similar locks on the electric windows and a series of CS cartridges going off inside the car, one after the other giving about 20 minutes of concentrated CS gassing if you didn't have the very necessary fob. This was also featured on TV.
    His car was never touched!

  5. I agree that it is a neat idea, but I don't think it is legal in the US – decades ago, there were people who used tear gas booby traps on safe doors and other high security places, but they are now illegal.

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