Is the ‘Barnacle’ the NYPD’s answer to stopping parking scofflaws in their tracks?

NYPD barnacle placed on windshield of truck
The NYPD has started deploying “barnacle” windshield boots to attach to scofflaws’ vehicles.
NYPD Transport via X

New York City parking scofflaws are feeling the long, clingy arm of the law.

The NYPD has deployed a new weapon designed to immobilize the vehicles of parking scofflaws: the “Barnacle,” a rectangular device that sticks to the windshield with such force that it’s been compared to the tiny crustaceans known to cling to ship bottoms. 

Police used its so-called Barnacle for the first time on Thursday, April 4, on an illegally parked Volvo semi-truck, the department’s Transportation Chief Philip Rivera said. During another operation in Queens the next evening, April 5, four more Barnacles were placed on illegally parked trucks.

“It’s used to immobilize vehicles violating parking regulations,” Rivera wrote on X. “This allows us to hold those accountable, reduce parking congestion & address cars that are a nuisance & hazard to the community.”

How it works, how to get it off

NYPD barnacle on truck windshield
Another Barnacle used on a truck windshield during a police operation in Queens on April 5, 2024.NYPD Transport via X

The Barnacle’s “commercial-grade suction cups” attach to a windshield with “1,000 pounds of force, making forcible removal next to impossible,” according to the company that produces the device.

Motorists can phone the number on the Barnacle, pay their fine, and then release the device from their windshield with a special code; after that, they can return it in a “nearby drop box.”

The NYPD has procured four of the devices as part of a pilot program, the New York Post first reported. Each costs $250 per month.

The Barnacle does not technically immobilize the car, like a boot that attaches to a driver’s wheel, but it makes it impossible to see where one is going.

Any attempt to tamper with the device, or drive while the Barnacle is in place, causes it to blare out a “deafening” alarm.

Various other cities have started utilizing Barnacles on scofflaws’ vehicles. The company said reaction has been “extremely positive” in Charleston, SC, noting cops found Barnacles easier to deploy than boots while for drivers, there was no chance of not seeing the boot and damaging their car’s rims.

Universities have also used the Barnacle on illegal parkers, though back in 2020, students at the University of Oklahoma discovered a hack to get the Barnacle off their windshield: by running the defroster and then picking it off with a credit card.

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