If you are a college student and you get too many parking fines, you are going to get in trouble. But one school didn’t count on students hacking their high tech parking violation deterrent. Some even got free internet from the devices.
You pay your taxes or — in the case of students — your tuition. But still, the city or university wants you to pay to park your car. In the old days, you’d get your car towed. But the people running the parking lot don’t really like having to share the fees they charge you with a tow truck driver. Many places clamp a device to your tire that makes it impossible to drive. Oklahoma University decided that was too much trouble, also, so they turned to Barnacle. Barnacle is a cheaper alternative to the old parking clamp. In sticks to your windshield so you can’t see to drive. The suction cups have an air pump to keep them secure and a GPS squeals if you move the car with it on there anyway.
From an engineering point of view, this makes sense. You don’t need a fleet of tow trucks and a storage lot. You don’t need to jack up cars and have a boot that can withstand quite a bit of force. In fact, you can release the device with a payment via cell phone and then drop the unit off at a drop box. More fees for the parking operation and less for pesky tow truck drivers and traffic enforcement.
Instead of paying $185, though, some students have posted on Reddit other solutions. Running your defrosters for awhile will loosen the suction cups enough to get a shim under them and break their seal. Other students suggested blocking the GPS signal and cell signal to the Barnacle. It was suggested to create a mock Barnacle you can leave on your parked car to dissuade the man from putting a real one on.
According to reports, at least one student realized the device has an unlimited SIM card on it and used it to tether his phone to the internet until they got wise. Unsurprisingly, the university has decided to hold off implementing the Barnacle and returned the five units it borrowed from the manufacturer. We have to wonder if other universities will follow.