A former NASA engineer-turned-YouTube star, Mark Rober has received plaudits online after designing a booby trap against parcel thieves.
Rober spent six months combining GPS tracking, cameras, fart spray and glitter in an elaborate and amusing mechanism after discovering thieves had stolen an Amazon delivery from his doorstep.
In a video posted on his channel, the 38-year-old, who helped design the U.S. space agency’s Curiosity Rover, said his engineering experience left him well-placed to “take a stand” after dismissive police left him feeling “powerless.”
“If anyone was going to make a revenge … package and over-engineer the crap out of it, it was going to be me,” said Rober, who spent nine years with NASA.
So-called “porch pirates” — thieves who steal packages off people’s doorsteps — have become an increasing issue as bad actors have sought to take advantage of growing demand for delivery services.
It shows how Rober connected four phones to a GPS-connected circuit board inside an Apple box. Once removed from a home by a would-be thief, the geo-tracking would alert Rober while also triggering the phones to begin recording and uploading footage to the cloud.
Meanwhile, when the box’s lid was lifted, it would set off a can of “fart spray” and a centrifugal motor attached to a cup of glitter, prompting comical responses from the thieves.
Rober, who has more than 4.3 million subscribers on YouTube, described the package prank as his “Magnum Opus,” Latin for great work, or masterpiece.