When a package went missing from Mark Rober's porch, his home security camera captured the package thief in the act. Rober went to the police, but they said it wasn't worth their time to investigate.
Feeling violated and powerless, Rober decided "something needed to be done to take a stand against dishonest punks like this."
But Rober has a few more technical skills than the average irate homeowner. A former NASA engineer, he spent seven years working on the Curiosity rover and has a huge YouTube following. He teamed up with a similarly talented friend, Sean Hodgins, to create a "revenge-bait package." Disguised to look like a normal package, when opened it's a feast for the eyes and nose, shooting fountains of colorful glitter and spraying bursts of "fart spray" into the air. The lucky recipient's reaction is captured by four hidden cameras — and the video of their experience is uploaded to the cloud in case the package is lost.
Not long after he set the trap, Rober received a notice that the package had been taken. He followed it via GPS to a parking garage where it sat in a cloud of glitter. Watch Rober's video above for the surprised thief's recorded reaction when the box exploded in his car with a monstrous puff of glitter and stinkiness. (Note: There's a lot of bleeped profanity.)
The video shows several other incidents in which surprised porch pirates are showered in glitter. Now, we can't condone sending glitter into the environment, because eventually it will make its way into the oceans. But we are impressed with Rober's ingenuity.
Issues with the original video
After the video went viral, Rober posted on his YouTube page the following update regarding concerns about authenticity.
Note about 2 missing the reactions in the video- I was presented with information that caused me to doubt the veracity of 2 of the 5 reactions in the video. These were reactions that were captured during a two week period while the device was at house 2 hours away from where I live. I put a feeler out for people willing to put a package on their porch and this person (who is a friend of a friend) volunteered to help. To compensate them for their time and willingness to risk putting a package on their porch I offered financial compensation for any successful recoveries of the package. It appears (and I've since confirmed) in these two cases, the “thieves" were actually acquaintances of the person helping me. From the footage I received from the phones which intentionally only record at specific times, this wasn’t clear to me. I have since removed those reactions from the original video (originally 6:26-7:59). I’m really sorry about this. Ultimately, I am responsible for the content that goes on my channel and I should have done more here. I can vouch for that the reactions were genuine when the package was taken from my house. Having said that, I know my credibly is sort of shot but I encourage you to look at the types of videos I’ve been making for the past 7 years. This is my first ever video with some kind of “prank" and like I mentioned in the video it’s pretty removed from my comfort zone. I should have done more. Full stop. 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". It genuinely works (like all the other things I’ve built on my channel) and we’ve made all the code and build info public. Again, I’m sorry for putting something up on my channel that was misleading. That is totally on me and I will take all necessary steps to make sure it won’t happen again.
Rober's video has had more than 41 million views. So regardless of how you feel about the errors from the original version, hopefully would-be pirates will think twice before they consider taking other people's stuff.
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in December 2018.