Bank robbers have occasionally been foiled by dye packs, which can be placed into a bag of stolen cash and then detonated as the robbers make their escape. The dye sprays out everywhere and contaminates the stolen money, making it valueless.
Fig 1: The bag of cartoon money (top left) is rendered worthless by a dye pack that stains all the money into un-usability.
What if we could apply this same technology to deter car thieves?
Basically, instead of just a regular dome light, a car would have a dome light plus a set of dye-spraying nozzles that could spray a permanent ink all over the car interior (coating both the occupants and the seats).
There are several possible variants for how this would be deployed:
- Most expensive: the car could have a theft-tracking device that would allow the car’s lawful owner to remotely deploy the dye pack with a pre-configured password (hopefully not 0000). This would probably require a subscription service, so it could be expensive (and if you were willing to pay a monthly fee, you should probably just get a regular theft-tracking service).
- Slightly less expensive: the car could have a Wi-Fi antenna, and it would automatically connect to public wireless hotspots that happened to be driven by. The car would check a specific web site to see if it had been reported as stolen, and deploy the dye pack in this situation. This would not necessarily require a subscription service, but would probably be hilariously prone to hacking.
- Self-contained solution with no network connectivity required: whenever you start the car, an alarm beeps for 60 seconds (similar to a home alarm), indicating that you need to input a “disable alarm” code before you start driving. If the car is in motion AND the alarm code has not been accepted, the dye pack will spray dye everywhere. Does not require a data plan or other subscription service!
The dye pack deployment may need to be restricted to times when the car is completely stopped, so that it doesn’t cause a deadly hazard to other drivers if it deploys while on the highway.
PROS: Substantially reduces plausible deniability of receiving a stolen car. While a normal stolen car might seem like a legitimate purchase, an obviously-covered-in-ink one probably would not be.
CONS: Option #3 (above) would be the bane of all valet parkers.