The porch piracy problems were not all what they seemed.
The idea was glorious: To get revenge on thieves swiping packages off doorsteps, ex-NASA engineer Mark Rober built parcels with a pound of glitter and fart spray that burst out when the lid was lifted. He also put phones in the package to record thieves’ reactions and to capture their location.
The video Rober released of five “glitter bombs” in action was the perfect antidote for anyone who’d ever arrived home to find only a doormat where a delivery should have been. They showed giant glitter messes and complaints about the stench (one thief even said he was worried about how his girlfriend would react to his smelly, sparkling car).
But now, Rober is apologizing for footage of two of the glitter attacks, which he admits is “misleading.”
Rober explained that he’d asked his friends — and friends of friends — to try out his invention, even offering to pay those who could recover their packages.
What Rober didn’t know, he said, is that some people called on their own buddies to pretend to be robbers, then sent the sham reaction videos to Rober, who passed them off on social media — unwittingly — as authentic.
Rober took to Twitter on Thursday to let his audience know about the mishap.
“From the footage I received from the phones which intentionally only record at specific times, this wasn’t obvious to me,” he wrote. “I can vouch that the reactions were genuine when the package was taken from my house.”
Rober, seemingly contrite and a bit wounded, said he has removed 90 seconds from the original video he’d posted on YouTube because it shows the reactions of phony thieves.
“I’m especially gutted because so much thought, time, money and effort went into building the device and I hope this doesn’t just taint the entire effort as ‘fake,'” he wrote on Twitter. “I know my credibility is sort of shot but I encourage you to look at the types of videos I’ve been making for the past 7 years.”