Retailers are turning the tables on groups of unwanted youths hanging around their stores - by giving them an earful of ultra-sonic soundwaves.
The novel technique uses a high-pitched sound said to be only audible to the under 20s.
Hidden in the casing of halogen floodlights, the pint-sized sound unit, called Mosquito, emits piercing sonar that is out of an adult’s normal hearing range.
Although not harmful, the sound is said to be “extremely unpleasant” and is being hailed as a quick-fix solution to the problem of loitering youths.
Robert Gough, owner of a 1,500 sq ft Spar store in Barry, South Wales, is one of the first retailers to try the system, which has a range of 20-30 metres. He said: “I was told about the device by my local wholesaler and was a bit sceptical at first.
“But it really does work. I wouldn’t say it sends kids fleeing, but it certainly annoys them and we have seen a vast reduction in the number of youths hanging around.”
Gough said he was not worried about the loss of trade from youngsters as pilferage levels had tumbled since he installed the device.
The Grocer Top 50 retailer Tates is planning to trial the system at a number of stores.
Inventor Howard Stapleton, MD of Compound Security Systems, said he came up with the idea after reading about hearing levels changing with age.
It is not the first time retailers have used a novel method to drive away nuisance teenagers. The Co-operative Group started playing classical music outside some of its stores earlier this year after trials proved successful (The Grocer, March 19, p11).
Simon Mowbray