Mark Rober, American engineer, inventor and YouTube personality.
Mark Rober, YouTube
The former NASA engineer-turned-YouTube star — who earned viral acclaim last year with his glitter bomb booby trap for doorstep delivery thieves — has made a festive comeback, just in time for season’s gift-giving spike.
Mark Rober spent nearly a year designing a new and improved version of his “Home Alone”-inspired revenge trap in a bid to catch some of the numerous doorstep thieves who continue to dog the U.S. postal system by stealing packages from outside shoppers’ homes.
In a video uploaded Sunday to his YouTube channel entitled “Porch Pirate vs. Glitter Bomb Trap 2.0,” Rober describes how a heightened use of glitter — this time, biodegradable — and extra offensive stink spray, improve on his original “ratsnest” design. The newly improved version has additional features including a countdown voice and fake police chatter.
The video even features a guest cameo from original holiday prankster, Home Alone’s Macaulay Culkin.
Rober said the update provides “relatively harmless karmic justice” for some of the estimated 1.7 million delivery packages that either get stolen or go missing every day.
The former-engineer, who helped design the U.S. space agency’s Curiosity Rover, was originally driven to invent the device in 2018 after a $5 delivery was stolen from his doorstep.
He spent the next six months tinkering to come up with an elaborate and amusing mechanism which combines GPS tracking, cameras, fart spray and glitter inside a discrete electronics delivery box.
The trap works by setting off a can of “fart spray” and triggering a glitter explosion on would-be thieves when the device is taken from a doorstep and the lid removed. The comic process is tracked and recorded by devices inside the box and immediately uploaded to the cloud.
Following the online praise for last year’s video, Rober this year enlisted the help of his some 9 million subscribers to try the new device.
Rober said he received 400 responses from applicants who themselves have dealt with package thefts in the past, and a handful of them were chosen to deploy the trap.
Among the respondents was one bad actor, Rober noted, who took the device for his own. He was swiftly avenged with a Scientology subscription and an influx of cringeworthy postcards, Rober said.
However, the viral star said the experiment also helped restore his faith in human nature, with several good-hearted passersby going to great lengths to return the stray parcel to its rightful owner. They were swiftly rewarded with $400 for their “opportunity cost,” he said.