Thursday, February 21, 2008

Go away kid. You bother me.

How did I miss this? Patrick McIlheran of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on a device called the Mosquito that chases away loitering youth.

It puzzles me, why a store would risk alienating future customers by hurting their ears, but in Britain quite a few apparently do, installing a device called the Mosquito that puts out really high-pitched sound to repel loitering youths.

They won't if an official, Sir Albert Aynsley-Green, who's appointed to be a busybody on behalf of what he perceives as children's interests, has his way. He wants the thing banned, saying it indiscriminately annoys even innocent tots who are 14 years before prime loitering age. Among his allies is a human rights group, the spokeswoman of which was quoted by the Times: "What type of society uses a low-level sonic weapon on its children?"

Well, not on its children -- rather, on other people's children who are hanging around and making trouble. The machines, which at 85 decibels are about the volume of traffic and which automatically shut off after 20 minutes, have been selling since 2006 to stores, banks, train stations. They beat posting "no loitering" signs, apparently. Best of all, from the installers' point of view: They can't be heard by most people over 25.

Proprietors had their reasons. "As soon as the Mosquito goes in, theft goes down, trade increases and profits go up," the Times in 2006 quoted Simon Morris, commercial director of Compound Security, the device's manufacturer. "One of the Co-ops (a retailer) said their trade went up £3,000 in the first week. They were amazed by it. If there are no kids hanging around, people feel more comfortable going into the shop and hence spend more money."