The gadget that could curb e-bike and scooter muggings in Britain: UK police could get Ghostbusters-style backpack devices that fire electromagnetic pulses at vehicles to stop them in their tracks

  • Sci-fi-inspired device could stop a thief making a quick getaway on an e-bike 
  • READ MORE: Moment brazen thief on an electric bike snatches a woman’s phone

In the Ghostbusters films of the 1980s, protagonists use a fictional backpack called a ‘proton pack’ to capture pesky ghosts in New York City. 

Now, it seems British police has taken inspiration from the classic sci-fi movies to make the ultimate high-tech crime-stopping device. 

Officials are working on a backpack that can shoot electromagnetic pulses at e-bikes and electric scooters to stop them in their tracks.

Police officers could use the devices on vehicles ridden by brazen thieves making a quick getaway after snatching people’s possessions from their hands. 

‘It is experimental at the moment but that is the new sort of tech that we need to keep us safer,’ explained Gavin Stephens, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). 

Who you gonna call? British police has taken inspiration from the Ghostbusters films to make a crime-stopping backpack. In the Ghostbusters films, the proton pack is a fictional backpack used for capturing ghosts. Pictured, Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters II (1989)

How would the device work? 

The backpack would work by firing an electromagnetic pulse at an e-bike or electric scooter. 

An electromagnetic pulse is a quick burst of electromagnetic energy and is capable of short-circuiting a wide range of electronic equipment. 

The pulse would then ‘confuse’ the e-bike engine to make it seem like it’s overheating, shutting down the engine and bringing the vehicle to a halt. 

In Ghostbusters, the backpack is a nuclear accelerator which fires a rapid stream of protons out of a hand-held ‘wand’, according to ‘Geektionary’ by Gregory Bergman.

But the real-life version used by British police and being developed with the Defence Science and Technology Lab, which is overseen by the Ministry of Defence, would work differently. 

Mr Stephens said the ‘ginormous’ carryall would work by generating an electromagnetic pulse.

This pulse would be fired through a handheld ‘particle thrower’ towards an assailant getting away on an e-bike or electric scooter.

The pulse would then ‘confuse’ the e-bike engine to make it seem like it’s overheating, shutting down the engine and bringing the vehicle to a halt. 

‘All these electric motors apparently have an inbuilt safety system that if it thinks it’s overheating, it shuts down,’ Stephens said at a media briefing on Monday, as quoted by the Guardian

‘Basically, it interferes with the electric motor, to trick the electric motor into thinking it is overheating.’ 

In the Ghostbusters films, the proton pack is a fictional energy-based capture device, used for controlling and lassoing ghosts. The Ghostbusters backpack is a nuclear accelerator and generates a rapid stream of protons that are fired out of a hand-held 'wand', according to 'Geektionary' by Gregory Bergman

In the Ghostbusters films, the proton pack is a fictional energy-based capture device, used for controlling and lassoing ghosts. The Ghostbusters backpack is a nuclear accelerator and generates a rapid stream of protons that are fired out of a hand-held ‘wand’, according to ‘Geektionary’ by Gregory Bergman

Stephens said the backpack is currently in development and could be months away from being used for the first time. 

Any police officer using the device would need a clear line of sight to properly work. 

It’s unclear what would happen if an officer missed their target and the electromagnetic pulse hit an innocent bystander. 

But according to the Guardian, police hope the emitted pulse will be harmless to humans and other vehicles. 

MailOnline contacted the NPCC – the national coordination body for law enforcement in the UK – for more information but a spokesperson refused to comment further. 

E-bikes are scooters have become the tool of choice for criminals across the country who can whip smartphones out of people’s hands and make a quick getaway.  

E-bikes and e-scooters are fitted with electric motors to boost pedal power, allowing riders to escape faster and with less effort compared with a conventional bike (file photo)

E-bikes and e-scooters are fitted with electric motors to boost pedal power, allowing riders to escape faster and with less effort compared with a conventional bike (file photo)

Last month, footage emerged of a man on what appears to be an e-bike snatching a phone from a woman in Marylebone, near Regent’s Park. 

The X account @CrimeLdn that uploaded the clip captioned it with the words of warning: ‘Keep your head on swivel when in London.’ 

And last August a brazen thief on an electric bike snatched a woman’s phone in broad daylight just metres from the Ritz hotel near Green Park in London. 

Dash cam footage showed him rushing through stationary traffic at a red light, mounting the pavement and stealing the gadget from the lone pedestrian.

Figures have shown a mobile phone is reported as stolen in London once every six minutes – so around 240 phones per day. 

There were almost 91,000 phones snatched from Londoners in 2022, at an average of 248 a day, with only two per cent of the stolen devices recovered.

Watch the terrifying moment an e-bike battery EXPLODES – releasing plumes of toxic white smoke, sparks and flames 

It is a terrifying sight – an e-bike battery spewing out toxic white smoke and erupting into flames with such ferocity that it could prove fatal.

That is the warning from electrical safety experts, who say if such a fire breaks out it can destroy a room in minutes. 

The danger of incompatible chargers, safety experts warn, is that they risk supplying a battery with too much voltage, which can then spark a catastrophic process called thermal runaway.

This is where the battery goes into an uncontrollable self-heating chemical reaction which leads to a fire breaking out.

To make matters worse, a new survey by the charity Electrical Safety First has found that hundreds of e-bike and e-scooter owners are at risk of inadvertently sparking such a blaze by using incompatible chargers.

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