When it comes to deterrence, no animal does it better than the skunk. Taking inspiration from this creative natural defense mechanism, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur has invented the SkunkLock – “the bike lock that will make thieves vomit when they try to steal your bike,” according to the company.
Along with being a conventional medium carbon steel U-Lock, it’s also rigged with a pressurized tank ready to spray a would-be thief with noxious chemicals. The substance is released when the lock is cut, slitting open the pressurized tank and spraying out the contents.
“It’s pretty much immediately vomit inducing, causes difficulty breathing," Daniel Idzkowski, one of the inventors of SkunkLock, told The Guardian. "A lot of similar symptoms to pepper spray."
The formula of the noxious substance remains a secret, although they do say on their website “some versions of the SkunkLock may contain capsaicin compounds.” This is a natural irritant found in chili peppers and often used as the active ingredient in pepper sprays.
The project is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo, with the hope of hitting shelves in the US by June 2017 and parts of Europe later that summer. In homage to the creature that inspired it, the lock comes in a black and white color scheme.
But is it legal to spray someone in public with noxious chemicals? Apparently so. The start-up say they’ve already studied every state in the US to verify that the device is legal. They’re now seeking to do the same with the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Japan, and more.
As they explain, no lock can ever 100 percent prevent a theft. But with half of all bike thefts going unreported, this project could help kick up a stink among thieves.