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Don’t try this in California

Ninja rocks. They are neither ninjas nor rocks.

They’re little bits of aluminum oxide ceramic, like the insulator on a sparkplug. Even a small piece flung at tempered glass will make it shatter thoroughly and relatively quietly (that’s the ninja part). Ideal for smash and grabs.

So much so that California has declared them de facto burglary tools. A court in Washington state accepted posession as proof of intent to burgle.

It works because aluminum oxide is very hard and the surface tension of tempered glass is very high. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness (which measures the ability of one mineral to scratch another), diamonds are 10, aluminum oxide ceramic is 9, tempered glass is 6.5. So a light blow with a very hard object breaks the surface tension of tempered glass and makes it do what it’s supposed to do: shatter into a kzillion tiny relatively harmless pieces.

I suppose it would work even better if you threw diamonds, but that would probably miss the point of a smash and grab.

Plenty of video on YouTube. Like here (warning – extreame).


Comment from Deborah
Time: February 13, 2012, 10:08 pm

Good grief.

Comment from Nina
Time: February 13, 2012, 10:14 pm

Bad guys will always figure out a way to take things from people no matter what protections are in place.

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: February 13, 2012, 10:18 pm

Ms Weasel, I have been awarded the “Liebster Blog Award” and am passing it along to you as per the rulz!
Hopefully the link won’t imprison me in the spam filter!!

Comment from Alice
Time: February 13, 2012, 10:34 pm

Hmmm… So having an car emergency kit containing one of those purpose-built window breakers is not legal in CA? Or it’s not incriminating if it’s in the car, just don’t carry it around?

I just don’t get this people.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 13, 2012, 10:47 pm

Politicians are generally incredibly fucking stupid, but California’s are in a class of their own.

The whole idea of ‘going equipped’ is problematic. If no burglary has yet taken place, I cannot see the justice in prosecuting this. The person in question might be a toe-rag, but mere toe-ragosity shouldn’t be enough to get you in trouble with the law.

Comment from Alice
Time: February 13, 2012, 10:59 pm

Maybe if the ‘rocks’ are stuck to the end of something harmless like, say, a crack pipe…

That would be a good name for it, actually.

Comment from Redd
Time: February 14, 2012, 12:14 am

Hmmm… So having an car emergency kit containing one of those purpose-built window breakers is not legal in CA? Or it’s not incriminating if it’s in the car, just don’t carry it around?

I just don’t get this people.

What legitimate reason would someone walk around with broken porcelain sparkplug chips in their pocket?

None of this is new. In fact it is very old. And as far as I’m concerned, they can arrest all the little car burglars they want. Possession of burg. tools is just the icing on the cake.

Comment from Alice
Time: February 14, 2012, 2:10 am

Um, okay then.

I just hope the potential progression to requiring registration and picture ID to purchase spark plugs, or declaring spark plugs to be a controlled item which can be provided only by licensed auto shops and car dealers is as easy a pill to swallow in support of the cause.

Comment from Cobrakai99
Time: February 14, 2012, 2:11 am

Comment from Redd
Time: February 14, 2012, 12:14 am

Well knives have been used in crimes, including kitchen knives, so we should just arrest everybody that owns a knife. Even kitchen knives.

Let me get precrime on this stat.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 14, 2012, 2:23 am


Every person having upon him or her in his or her possession a picklock, crow, keybit, crowbar, screwdriver, vise grip pliers, water-pump pliers, slidehammer, slim jim, tension bar, lock pick gun, tubular lock pick, bump key, floor-safe door puller, master key, ceramic or porcelain spark plug chips or pieces, or other instrument or tool with intent feloniously to break or enter into any building, railroad car, aircraft, or vessel, trailer coach, or vehicle as defined in the Vehicle Code, or who shall knowingly make or alter, or shall attempt to make or alter, any key or other instrument named above so that the same will fit or open the lock of a building, railroad car, aircraft, vessel, trailer coach, or vehicle as defined in the Vehicle Code, without being requested to do so by some person having the right to open the same, or who shall make, alter, or repair any instrument or thing, knowing or having reason to believe that it is intended to be used in committing a misdemeanor or felony, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Cal. Penal Code § 466

You can have all the spark plugs you want. Just don’t smash them and carry around the pieces with felonious intent. ‘K?

And, um, that has apparently been the law since 2003. Not that I’m saying that makes it OK–just, I’d guess it’s not working out as a significantly greater constraint on civil liberties than the prohibition against possessing a slim jim with felonious intent. Y’know?

Comment from Alice
Time: February 14, 2012, 2:52 am

I sympathize with those who want to use every tool in the toolbox to stop crime. I’ve just reached my limit on seeing the benefits of the theory that adding more laws to the books, and criminalizing more and more activities or things, actually has any positive impact on crime, while it complicates more and more the attempt to just be a law-abiding citizen. I say for every new law added, two laws must be deleted for a period of not less than 10 years.

That said – the actual law posted here (Thanks, Can’t Hark) seems to require proof of intent to commit a crime using said bits of sparkplugs or other items above.

Looks to me like a law abiding citizen can wander about with all the crushed spark plugs they want, so long as they are willing to roll the dice that a jury would find them innocent of wanting to use them in commission of a crime.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 14, 2012, 3:12 am

Yup, Alice. Not to mention that before anyone could prosecute them for being in possession of crushed spark plugs, they would have to be found in possession of crushed spark plugs. In order to do which, the police would have to have a valid reason to stop and search. Or would have to get a search warrant for premises/automobile. I’m not saying the police have never, anywhere in the U.S. at any point in the last half-century or so, played fast and loose with reasons to stop and search, or with the affidavits needed to get a search warrant. But–in general, it is improbable that they are going to do either for most residents of the country. So, if you think you might be someone of interest to law enforcement, it probably isn’t a good idea to walk around with a pocket full of broken spark plugs. And, because really weird shit can happen to anyone at anytime, even if you aren’t likely to be of interest to law enforcement, it would probably be better not to walk around with a pocket full of broken spark plugs. Still, if you want to walk around with a pocket full of broken spark plugs for the sheer hell of it, the odds are you will never have to do anything more taxing than finding a container to empty them into before doing your laundry. But you might want to memorize the name and phone number of a good criminal defense attorney (you know, the guy you go to when you get stopped for speeding), just in case.

Comment from Col. Fappington, OBE
Time: February 14, 2012, 3:53 am

Damnable Yank wankers

A right proper Bently is actuated by hand-crank.
these “spark-plugs” are downright German.

Comment from Mysterion
Time: February 14, 2012, 4:41 am

Bad news. The “woolly mammoth” video was a hoax. I’ll admit I was initially excited about the video because I could tell it wasn’t a bear. But, as Goober pointed out (in the earlier bear thread) the video was just too blurry to not be a hoax and he was right.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 14, 2012, 4:58 am

There oi waz mindin’ me own biz, guvenor when this ‘er Bobbie, e stops me on me scoota an he sais “wot’s a bloke loke yu doin’ er bye the jewry sop ot 3 a.m.?” So oi tells im that me choir practice ran late an I din ave time to do me windo shopin for me dear mum’s burpday comin next Tuesday sharp cause o that. So er I was plannin on ow to spend me entire dole onit.

“Roight like it”, e sez, “pull the othar own now” an e makes me empty moi pokets out. Then Guv, he fines thez small bits o bleedin’ spark plog wot I wuz savin’ for me bird asin she mokes necklaces and such like fom em Guv. Ond here I is in front of ya yur honur ond oi ain’t did nuffing but looks in a sop windo while thimkin o me sainted mum.

Comment from Redd
Time: February 14, 2012, 5:06 am

And, um, that has apparently been the law since 2003.

I had to look that up since I have personal knowledge that it has been a crime since the late 1980s. Yes, they added the language about broken spark plugs to the statute in 2003. However, prior to 2003, it fell under the “or other instrument or tool” language, to wit,….

Comment from Oceania
Time: February 14, 2012, 8:27 am

A decent SWeasel Posting at Last!

Comment from Mike C.
Time: February 14, 2012, 12:20 pm

Uh, one could just carry a chunk of synthetic sapphire, which is cheap and easily available. The classic hardness 9 in Moh’s table.

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: February 14, 2012, 2:23 pm

Mike C: Indeed. And since a lot of the oversized “bling” jewelry around is based on synthetic sapphire — at least the expensive stuff is; the cheap ones are glass or plastic — that means your average Celebrity decked out for a party is in possession of burglar tools. Maybe that’s where they got it in the first place…


Comment from steve
Time: February 14, 2012, 4:06 pm

You can have my sparkplug…..

When you pry it from my cold, dead lawnmower!

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: February 14, 2012, 5:02 pm

Diesels don’t have spark plugs . . . I wonder if any Rosicrucians own stock in Wärtsilä.

Comment from Goober
Time: February 14, 2012, 7:10 pm

Mysterion – There is a phenomenon in cryptozoology called the “blobsquatch” phenomenon. Typically, you’ll see hours of clear, unambiguous footage taken by a certain videographer or photographer, and then, in the instant that whatever cryptid creature crosses the path of the lens, the photo quality or video quality goes to absolute pot and all you get is a grainy blob moving across the screen.

Generally, two things can be said about such occurences:

1.) The photographer is being dishonest and purposely blurred the image to create ambiguity. This is usually also accompanied by footage of the blob being very short without explanation (or with a crappy, half-assed explanation), as in this case. If you saw a mammoth crossing a river, would you only take 5 seconds of footage of it? Or would you follow it for a couple of days, taking pics until your camera ran out of batteries and film? I know what I would do.

2.) The photographer is not dishonest, and the blurring was accidental. However, without the blurring, the subject of the video would easily have been identified as something mundane and every day and you’d have never heard about the video at all because it was obviously the neighbor’s black lab running by in the background. This is usually accompanied by a back story of some sort where they didn’t notice the creature upon filming it, but only noticed it later when they watched the video again. At the time, they noticed nothing because, well,it was the neighbor’s black lab. They later forgot that poochy was there, and go all “sasquatch!” when they see the blob.

So, the blobsquatch phenomenon is self-sustaining in this way – there are enough hoaxers out there to supply 75% of the blobsquatch footage that we have, and the other 25% would never have been looked at twice if it wasn’t for the blurriness because whatever you are looking at would be in sharp focus enough to know that it is nothing special.

The fact that in this day and age, with everybody now carrying camera phones with video recorders on them clear enough to show the fleas on a dog’s back from 20 yards, we still don’t have clear video proof of these cryptids – whether they be sasquatch or mammoths – is absolute proof that none exist. Well, proof enough fo me, anyway.

Comment from Oldcat
Time: February 14, 2012, 9:40 pm

There’s a silly series about hunting Bigfoot on cable and on a recent show they found traces in Rhode Island. Perhaps Ms Weasel, as an ex-resident, can tell us more.

Comment from Oceania
Time: February 15, 2012, 12:46 am

When the Moon is full … Sweasel grows fur, long sharp claws and fangs, and wanders Rhode Island …
Although most American females do it .. in search of some poor male to Curse.

Comment from Greg Toombs
Time: February 28, 2012, 5:46 am

The real question is, who thought of this first?

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