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There's A Genius New Way To Stop People Stealing Your Bike

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Photo: Xochi Romero.
If you've ever ridden a bike and locked it to a nearby lamp post while you pop to the shop, you may have felt a sense of dread as you made your way back to collect it. Will some opportunistic crook have ridden it off into the sunset? Will you have to get an Uber home? Or is today your lucky day?

Bikes are some of the easiest vehicles for thieves to target and bike locks are notoriously simple to break and pick open. More than 327,000 were stolen in England and Wales between April 2015 and March 2016, according to official crime statistics.

Luckily a new lock has been invented that could stop a thief in his or her tracks – and give them a nasty, smelly shock.

SkunkLock is designed to emit a disgusting-smelling spray when drilled through, making thieves promptly throw up their lunch, reported The Guardian.

The ingenious device was invented by entrepreneurs from San Francisco, who were fed up with bike thefts.

Daniel Idzkowski, one of SkunkLock's inventors, said: “The real last straw was we had a friend park his very expensive electric bike outside a Whole Foods, and then went to have lunch and chat. We went out and his bike was gone."

While Idzkowski conceded that "there really is no solution" to the problem, he and his co-inventor, Yves Perrenoud, believe SkunkLock could be a pretty effective deterrent.

It's a U-shaped lock made from carbon and steel that holds one of three of their unique pressurised gases. The gas then erupts when someone cuts about 30% of the way into it, The Guardian reported.

The noxious spray emitted is “pretty much immediately vomit inducing" and "causes difficulty breathing,” said Idzkowski. “A lot of similar symptoms to pepper spray.”

The founders haven't tested it on a real thief yet, but they said the smell "was absolutely vomit inducing in 99% of people" who volunteered to test it at between two feet (60cm) and 20ft (610cm).

The founders are seeking funding on Indiegogo, promising anyone who donates $99 (£80) a SkunkLock of their own in June 2017 if the device passes a risk assessment.

Traditional bike locks are often ineffective at preventing theft, despite their hefty price tags, Idzkowski pointed out. They can be easily cut through with an electric saw in less than a minute.

However, he admitted SkunkLock isn't a silver bullet to the age-old problem, saying it could be picked open with a cheap plastic pen in less than half an hour (a pretty major flaw, if you ask us!), and a thief could easily return to the bike once the smell had died down.

"You can’t prevent a theft 100%, so that’s why we call it a deterrent lock, not a solution," Idzkowski added.

Still, better than nothing, we suppose.
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