back to article LAPD patrol cars to get sticky-GPS-tracker cannon?

Los Angeles cops will be able to fire sticky GPS tracker devices at fleeing miscreants' cars as of next year, according to reports. The StarChase Pursuit Management System uses compressed-air laser-sighted launchers mounted at the front of a patrol car to fire "a miniature GPS receiver, battery and radio transmitter, embedded …


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  1. Carl

    No shortage of dumb criminals...

    ... so I'd say give it a try. If it can reduce high speed chases, that's a Good Thing.

    I've always been convinced that 95% of criminals get caught just because they make stupid mistakes. Life's not all CSI.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not just...

    ...go all fast and furious? Get some high powered cannons that fire giant spikes into the body work of the car that then "deploy" and grapple onto the vehicle!

  3. Dave


    Vaseline? Cooking spray? A little on the trunk and you're pretty safe.

  4. Chris Goodchild Silver badge


    The manufacturers of Star chase having gone to all the trouble of creating a laser guided delivery system could make the LA cops a lot happier by linking it to a vehicle mounted Taser. All cops like Tasers, they are fun toys and can you imagine the zap with a car sized battery behind it?

    Fire a couple of harpoons into the bodywork attached to jumper cables and you could stop the car with a zap of few million volts thereby eliminating the need to indulge in needless and dangerous car chases.

  5. Jay_rm

    Jammers ? hahaha

    The vast, vast majority of police pursuits concern motorists who make a snap decision to flee when confronted - They don't plan on it when getting in their vehicle. Probably not too many of them will have a jammer in their possession and few are going to notice the impact of one of those devices as they bounce off curbs and other vehicles.

    Don't they offer 'Cops' on the UK networks ???

  6. Mitch Hellman

    Why not just...

    ..switch to another car? Many cars used in high-speed chases are stolen anyway-- just steal or carjack another.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zap! not all that likely to work.

    "Fire a couple of harpoons into the bodywork attached to jumper cables and you could stop the car with a zap of few million volts"

    Unlikely, as the current would harmlessly short out across the metal body of the car and directly to ground. The EMF might just be enough to confuse the EMS or ABS (or even worse, the sat-nav might direct you down a dead end!), but on the whole electricity stays on the outside of a hollow metal shell. (That's why you're advised to stay inside your car if you get caught in a serious lightning storm while you're out driving).

    Here, look how poxy lightning is: it can't even kill Richard Hammond!

  8. mahoney

    re: "Sticky?" by dave

    "Vaseline? Cooking spray? A little on the trunk ..."

    Reminds me of a girl I used to date.

  9. Craig Cruden

    A lot of cold water --

    And yet IF it stuck and transmitted -- that would catch the vast majority.

    Most of the criminals are not really thinking other than to escape (usually with the brain disengaged).

    I would gather 90%+ would not stop to scrape it off.

    Add in intelligent software to direct the police officers to intercept at potentially opportune times -- and there would not be likely much time to think anyway.

  10. Greg C

    Missed the point

    The M.O. for this device is NOT

    1. Shoot it at the offending vehicle

    2. Go to the donut shop and wait for the offenders to stop

    A device like this allows real-time communication of the fleeing car's whereabouts without having to fill the airwaves with "He's turning around, south on blah street!"

    This also allows more intelligent coordination because (ideally) you can show the locations of your other police units on the same GPS/map screen and move them strategically to cover freeway exits, etc. rather than guessing where the fleeing party is.

    Even IF the offender realizes they've been hit with one of these sticky-GPS units, think of how long it would take to STOP your car from 90mph, run 'round back, scrape off an epoxy-mounted GPS receiver, and get back up to speed. In 30-60 seconds of 0mph vs 90mph cops can close in pretty fast.

    But your average car-stealing criminal isn't going to realize they've got this on 'em, much less know how to disable it in real time (unless a very simple way comes about). And even then...A chance of spotty data beats NO data.

  11. Blain Hamon

    Dumb criminals

    > Vaseline? Cooking spray? A little on the trunk and you're pretty safe.

    Like Carl mentioned, the US isn't short on people without foresight. Besides, this is the stuff of people driving around in stolen cars in broad daylight (dumb) or under the influence of alcohol (dumber). They're not going to be bright enough to defend against this, and with a DUI, the cops could strap a cellular tower on the trunk and the drunk wouldn't notice.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone's giving criminals too much credit...

    ...and I'm probably going to give the cops too much.

    Once the tracker is on the vehicle, it is as the previous poster said, it frees up comms traffic to organising the ambush to arrest them. Only very professional criminals might take the precaution of oiling down a car but that very process would draw attention to them. Much easier to use a signal jammer but 2nd gen stuff would use military-style frequency-hopping tech to get around this.

    The tracker is there to bring a helicopter straight onto the vehicle or to do a covert follow and ambush them when they stop for anything including stopping to remove the tracker.

    In the UK, there was a cop show (title eludes me at the moment but it was on the Beeb) that followed various Vehicle Crime Units. Typically, the youfs goaded the cops to chase them. They then blitzed through their estate before using a bit of local knowledge (that bollard is missing and this car won't miss it's wing mirrors) or sheer recklessness to get far enough ahead to disappear out of sight before the chopper is on the scene.

    Speaking of trackers. Stop putting them round the oiks ankles and put them round their bloody necks like we do with elephants, tigers, whatever. One slip and the hacksaw blade might go through their carotid artery instead of the tracker. Here's hoping. Also, no need for fancy GPS gunk guns, just a bit of DF kit since they're in the driving seat. Now that's a bit of joined up thinking!

  13. Craig Vaughton

    Drive Offensively

    Tasers, trackers, non-lethal whatever. Why not save the tax payers a load of money in legal bills and prison food. Fit police cruisers with a 25mm Bushmaster cannon!

    Of course if they did this in the UK, the government would make money on it by selling off more Army surplus APCs and then claim all the proceeds were going to fund new vehicles to replace them (only to be exposed for buying more of the wrong sort of APC ).

  14. Richard Freeman

    Oil? Vaseline?

    Why bother with Oil or Vaseline? a good Layer of dust should work just fine and it looks natural....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glorified Doughnut Couriers

    Lets be honest when this GPS thingy is not in use it'll be used to place the nearest patrol car to dunkin' doughnuts

  16. Eddy Ito

    Of course

    That assumes the cop has any kind of aim worth writing home about. Just look at most of the adrenaline filled coppers clicking off a three and a half dozen rounds at a suspect, who is usually unarmed and stupidly fetching his ID like he was told, only to score 7 hits, only two of which are fatal. So, I'm left to wonder how many bystanders will be going to hospital getting one of these removed from their eye, ear, other tiny bodily orifice.

    That said, always remember, they're from the gubermint and der here ta halp. Oh, someone is at the door I'll be rig'ln........................

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Something doesn't quite add up

    Assuming the device works its only going to track the car, not the people in it. The cops have to stay on the fugitives' tails because they often bail at some point -- its usual for them to drive to an area they know and then try to disappear into it. So I don't see much change from the helecopter overhead and the cars behind (plus cars controlling intersections in front to try and reduce the chances of a collision).

    Usually the idea is to not chase the fugitive but just keep them driving round until they run out of gas. If the cops can slow things down by blowing a tire or two then they'll do it. They'll also do a pit maneuver to spin the fugitive out if they can.

    I've only seen a fugitive get away once. They got away from the helecopter by driving into an area where the copter couldn't go. I'm not sure why -- it wasn't that close to the flight paths into LAX -- but it worked.

  18. E


    Forget rubbing your car with vaseline or cooking oil!

    Roof mount a big klystron with a trunk full of capacitors and when the cops try to attach a tracking device to your cars, just fry their copter's circuitry into slag.

    When exactly did the cops escape due process and reasonable suspicion? People in helicopters are too far away to know whether the citizen they nail has done anything, or to have a reasonable suspicion.

  19. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Re: Zap! not all that likely to work.

    "the current would harmlessly short out across the metal body of the car and directly to ground"

    Um, through rubber tires ? Should I specify, naturally-insulating rubber tires ?

    The current won't go anywhere near the ground, that's for sure. Whether or not it will zap the car's onboard computer or somesuch is another issue, but current leakage to the ground is not.

    Unless, of course, the guy has one of those anti-lightning grounding thingies - made of rubber as well. But the issue is probably moot because at 90mph the thing won't touch the ground either.

  20. JBR


    Electromagnetic pulse should wipe out the car's engine management.

    Of course it would have to be focussed and pretty powerful which would mean Judge Dredd style cruisers with parabolic dishes on the front and a LARGE capacitor to generate the pulse.

    Seeing how keen they are on tasers, they might also be tempted by a low order nuke detonated above the vehicle to generate the EMP as well...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "They'll also do a pit maneuver to spin the fugitive out"

    I've seen a couple of those cop shows. "Precision Immobilisation Technique", my left nadger. These are traffic cops, trained to drive and halt perps, right. "PIT" is a euphemism for bloody dangerous and ineffective.

    A maneuver worthy of the name "PIT" is what I saw Nottinghamshire police do: get a car ahead of the object of the chase, one behind, and sandwich the pursued vehicle between the two. The front car brakes and steers to stay in front of the chased car. If the chased car driver is actually any good, there doesn't even need to be contact. End result: fleeing vehicle halted, no vehicle ever out of control and no chance of it driving away; two cars worth of rozzers to run down the perp if they try and leg it.

    What the yanks laughably call a PIT relies on disabling the chased car mechanically to stop it attempting to depart the crash site. Precision? Ah, like Precision Guided Munitions...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lightning cannot kill RIchard Hammond because....

    ..he is a disciple of Chuck Norris. How else did he survive that rocket car crash. The way of the Hamster is indeed strong. Just not as strong as Chuck.

    (Hamster, Woodchuck - does anyone else see the pattern emerging here?)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Zap! not all that likely to work. (off topic)

    "Here, look how poxy lightning is: it can't even kill Richard Hammond"

    Not even a jet-powered dragster can kill the Hamster!

    No that I think of it, Richard would clearly knock out Chuck Norris. No doubt.


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EMP is possible

    rumour has it that BWMs will soon feature LOTS of supercapacitors in their running boards as part of a hybrid green thing. (it's quite a strong rumour as I have seen/played with the new trendy X6 which has this hybrid technology.) I didn't think to rewire the caps to a Magnetic Flux Compression time....!

  25. martin

    Re: Pascal Monett

    The current won't go anywhere near the ground, that's for sure. Whether or not it will zap the car's onboard computer or somesuch is another issue, but current leakage to the ground is not.

    the electrical charge would be harmless as there is 0 charge in an electrical field

  26. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Wouldn't a paintball gun be cheaper?

    I thonk this idea appeared in sci-fi about 50 years ago.

    But, the gendarmes seem to loath the simple solution, here in las vegas, they shoot knife wielding subjects rather than throw a net over them.

  27. Mark Roome

    "Jammers, sticky, zap and shooting things"

    "Lord Helmut, they just jammed the radar!"

    "What! Tell me what happened"

    "Well, first it was going 'Blip, Blip, Blip' ... then SPLAT .. then it was going 'shshshshshshshshshshshshs'"

    "Raspberry jam!, There's only one... man who would dare give me the raspberry: LONESTARR!"

    (Thats from Spaceballs, just in case you didn't get it)

  28. Charles Hammond


    If they got laser, then why not just laser the back tires?

    What about an EM pulse that knocks out the Ignition System?

    Guided Missles?

    Machine Guns mounted on Hood?

  29. laird cummings

    to PIT or not to PIT

    < "Precision Immobilisation Technique" >...?

    Get it right. It's Pursuit Intervention Technique, AKA Tactical Vehicle Intervention. If you can't even name it right, how can you know enough to talk about it? It's only allowed to be used by specifically-trained offiers, precisely because it *is* dangerous. OTOH, sometimes letting a lunatic yob run loose through the streets is even more dangerous, in which case, a trained officer rams to terminate the chase. It's a tool, one of many, and the only reason *you* know about it is because you've been watching cop shows, which only show the most spectacular footage, not the more boring and mundane *usual* results.


    The technique you're advocating is every bit as dangerous, and places not one, but *two* officers in jeopardy. It's also a useful tool, but again, only in the right cirumstances.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well, wouldn't a few million volts cause the car to hit a boiling point, causing the petrol in the tank to ignite and explode, thereby making the car no different from a vehicle bomb (lightning through a car only lasts a split second. Given the cops will definitely let the current flow for a while, thinking it to be harmless, cause the car to become hot.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone's giving criminals too much credit...

    "Speaking of trackers. Stop putting them round the oiks ankles and put them round their bloody necks..." and then make them explode if tampered with.

    Ever heard of a film called "Battle Royal?" -

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