Ensuring burglars don't have the foggiest

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013
Protect fog cannon
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
WHITEOUT: The fog cannon spurts smoke over our ‘‘intruder’’.
Protect fog cannon
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
GOTCHA: The Protect fog cannon in action.

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"Burglars can't steal what they can't see," is the slogan for a security system that shoots disorienting fog at would-be thieves.

The Danish-developed Protect Security Systems Fog Cannon releases a harmless mixture of glycol and water that creates a white cloud that can fill a large room in seconds.

It was on display yesterday in Christchurch.

Alastair Burgess, business development manager for installer ECL Group, said some of the fog cannon protecting Kiwi businesses had been proven in action.

A service station on the outskirts of Christchurch had installed a fog cannon halfway through last year.

Within a few months, a group of burglars rammed the doors down and leapt the counter to raid the cigarettes and till.

The burglary was caught on the closed-circuit television cameras, Burgess said.

"Next thing, you see the burglars running out of the building empty-handed."

The sudden burst of dense fog appeared to panic them, he said.

With about 250 of the systems installed around the country, fog cannon may soon be less of a shock to burglars.

But there was not much would-be thieves could do to thwart the fog, which was so thick that a person could not see even a few centimetres ahead, he said.

The cloud would remain for 30 minutes to an hour , he said.

The technology has been around for about a decade and licensed in New Zealand for about half that as long.

Protect Security Systems Australasian business development manager Rob Coburn said the technology had been kept relatively low-key this side of the Tasman while regulatory issues and processes were worked out with the Fire Service and other organisations.

But Protect, and Kiwi installer ECL Group, has now started ramping up marketing the device, he said.

Electronics warehouses, chemists, jewellers, bottle stores and service stations were potential customers, Burgess said.

He hoped to sign up government departments and nationwide corporations to standardise the fog cannon as part of business security alongside CCTV and siren alarms.

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