Brooklyn inventor debuts package-theft deterrent outside Borough Hall

bob box 1
A “Bob Box” appeared outside Borough Hall Wednesday.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

A Kings County carpenter has developed a low-tech security device that he claims would defeat the scourge of package pirates plaguing the borough — if only people would buy it!

Inventor Bob James chained his anti-thievery device, called a “Bob Box,” to a light post at Remsen Street near Borough Hall last Wednesday, as part of a guerrilla marketing campaign designed to drum up interest in what’s undeniably an awkward-looking creation. 

But the Bob Box, which appears like a cross between a wood chipper and a mailbox, met a lukewarm reception from passersby, including one woman who noted that the box, while good in theory, might not work so well in practice. 

“I can definitely understand the need for that because I’ve always said, society is not ready for all this online shopping,” said Evaleen, who didn’t give her last name. “I think it could be a little more compact, the design needs to be jazzed up a little, because I don’t know if anyone is going to want that in their yard like that.”

James, a Bedford-Stuyvesant retiree, designed his namesake box — which serves as a secure, curb-side package receptacle that’s accessible by key —  as an answer to the dramatic rise in package thievery throughout the borough.

The boxes advertise a safe place for delivered packages along with a number and email to reach out to.                  Photo by Kevin Duggan

But the handcrafted security device costs a whopping $199, is made entirely out of wood, and features a comically large nozzle jutting out from the storage compartment, which one local said made the Bob Box less than ideal for the mean streets of Brooklyn. 

“I think it’s an interesting idea if you have a private home, but here in the city, I can’t imagine it,” said Jon Berall. “One more thing like this in front of the apartment house? It’s just another big thing that’s going to fall apart.”

However, the inventor said it’s exactly the Bob Box’s low-tech nature that makes it an ideal deterrent for Kings County package pirates. 

“You don’t need to maintain batteries or give codes to deliverers,” he said. “The only thing you lose is the package pirate blues.”

So far, James has yet to sell any of his Bob Boxes, despite a guerrilla marketing campaign that’s seen him install devices outside subway stops in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg, in addition to the Borough Hall box.

But those stunts unfortunately violate the city’s administrative code, which makes it illegal to leave any box, barrel, bale of merchandise or other movable property on a public street or place, and James relocated the Remsen street container shortly after installing it. 

“I have to move that box — it can’t be there,” he admitted. 

Anyone interested in being the very first, proud owner of a Bob Box can reach James at (718) 789-8910, or by email at [email protected].