Over the years there have been many interesting and innovative ideas for repelling car thieves, some of them even originating in our own crime-ridden corner of the world - remember that flame-throwing anti-hijack device of the ‘90s?

We specifically mention that because it’s not often that an anti-theft device actually causes some kind of injury or discomfort to the perpetrator, but strangely enough Toyota has just applied for a US patent on a device that actually shoots tear gas at car thieves.

The system forms part of a unique perfume dispensing system that Toyota is also patenting. It uses smart phone data to detect who is getting into the vehicle (in the case of cars with multiple users) and will dispense that person’s favourite fragrance through the air vents just in time to welcome said occupant.

But don’t expect a pleasant whiff of strawberry-and-cream-infused rose blossom if the car’s immobiliser identifies you as an ‘illegitimate user’.

The patent application reads: “The fragrance generation section is configured to release a tear gas component inside the vehicle; and the controller controls the fragrance generation section to release the tear gas component inside the vehicle in a case in which an illegitimate engine start has been detected by an immobiliser of the vehicle.”

Read the full patent application here.

How well this will go down with potential customers, and the law for that matter, remains to be seen. Particularly since machines are known to make mistakes.

IOL Motoring