Forget wheel clamps – illegally parked cars are now getting hit by this dystopian 'windscreen barnacle'

 Barnacle Parking.
Barnacle Parking.

Up until recently, those who have parked illegally have had to endure the prospect of fines through the post, a wheel clamp, or (at the very worst) a vehicle that has been towed away entirely.

This could all be about to change as a new measure has been introduced to deter pesky parkers: say hello to the Barnacle.

The big yellow device is engineered by a company in the US called, quite aptly, Barnacle Parking and uses suction cups that grip with 1,000lbs of force to attach a giant slab of yellow plastic to a vehicle's windscreen, effectively making it impossible to drive away safely.

The Barnacle is being marketed as a more convenient way of enforcing parking restrictions, as it can be applied in less than a minute, compared to the several minutes required for a wheel clamp or parking boot.

Its inventor, Colin J. Heffron Sr, told CBS News that he was tired of the inconvenience of wheel clamps, having to wait all day to have his car released. Plus, wheel clamps or boots also have a reputation for damaging precious alloy wheels.

To combat DIY removal, the Barnacle contains an audible alarm, which is set off if anyone tampers with it, while the connected nature of the device (it features GPS and a SIM card) means an alert will be sent to the parking enforcer if it detects movement.

Barnacle Parking
Barnacle Parking

“If a driver attempts to pull an Ace Ventura and drive away with their head out the window, the Barnacle’s motion sensors will trigger the alarm – and an alert is also sent,” according to the Barnacle’s official website.

Just like most parking fines, the parking manager will also take a picture of the vehicle, alongside making a digital note of the vehicle registration, and link it to the device with details of the infringement. Should the naughty motorist attempt to rip it off or drive away with the Barnacle attached, they could face additional fines and destruction of property violations.

However, Barnacle Parking has made it easier for those unfortunate enough to have a massive yellow brick suckered to a windscreen to resolve the situation. The driver simply scans a QR code, pays the fine and the device is remotely released.

There are guidelines on what to do with your discarded Barnacle, which involves dropping it off at a local collection point so it can be put into action once again.

A sticky situation

Barnacle Parking
Barnacle Parking

The NYPD is currently leasing the Barnacle devices as part of a pilot programme to target illegally parked trucks and vehicles, according to CBS News, but the device is already in use by other police departments and universities across the US.

In fact, plans to introduce the device to the University of Oklahoma sparked fury among the students back in 2020.

One poster on social news site Reddit reported that he had defiantly protested the university's use of the Barnacle by extracting a mobile network Sim card from one of the devices and using it to access the internet for free, according to the BBC.

Barnacle Parking has since upgraded the design of its device, with its latest generation featuring a suction engine that constantly adjusts PSI based on ambient temperature and a tamper-proof replaceable battery, so defiant drivers can’t wait for the power source to die and toss the thing in the bushes.

As a result, Barnacle Parking says it now has “tens of thousands” of units in deployment, meaning the big yellow eyesore might be coming to a street near you soon.

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