Another Bright Idea

Why is it no-one thinks anything right through before filing the patent? On the surface, the idea of a ‘watchdog’ system to keep track of (and authorise the operation of) all your household appliances and technology is a great idea…until you consider what happens if you decide you want to sell one of the items on, or take it to a friend’s house. Would it really deter burglary? Or would it just mean that burglars would have to do more jobs to raise the odds of seizing objects that actually worked beyond the building they came from?

4 thoughts on “Another Bright Idea”

  1. Wireless watchdog systems are a great idea for some things.

    Consider, for example, an expensive robot used in an outdoor/public location (e.g. a lawnmower or street cleaner). You don’t want to be watching it all the time it is in operation, nor building a large fence around it’s entire operating environment.

    A watchdog system could alert you, track and/or disable the object, trigger an alarm on the object or even start spraying indelible ink around if you feel creative!

  2. Look at it economically. The burgler is going to be getting less per job – sure he could increase the number of jobs to make up for it, but if it was that easy, why wouldn’t he increase the number of jobs now? The burgler is balancing risk (of getting caught) and effort with return; if the return goes down without decreasing the risk or effort then the burgler will be looking for other activities that have a better balance.

  3. I take your point, Smokefoot, but I’m pretty sure that most burglars are already fairly desperate people – most breakins here in the UK are opportunist crimes done by people who need money quick, for various reasons. The ‘bespoke’ burglar who plans carefully and pulls off massive hauls is a statistical rarity indeed.

    So, yes, there would be a deterrent effect, but I still hold that it’s better to cure the disease rather than the symptoms – in other words, looking at it economically, wouldn’t it make more sense to create a society where most (if not all) of the reasons that people burgle were absent, rather than protect non-burglars from their depradations? This device would only protect those who could afford it; most burglaries happen in poor areas, with the deprived taking from the slightly less deprived.

    OK, so I’m taking the long view here, but this just seems to be another device that panders to the fear of the poor that the well-off have. A sound set of locks would probably be just as effective a deterrent, and would cost a hell of a lot less.

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