Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

In 1969, One Inventor Tried to Sell Police a ‘Net Gun’ for Catching Robbers

While effective, the invention never quite took off.

If a burglar is on the loose, what better way to catch them than with a gun that launches a hundred square-foot nylon net? At least, that’s what one inventor thought in 1969.

In the video above, archived by British Pathé, an inventor by the name of Colin Brown shows how his device “net-a-thief” can easily capture a robber who had stolen five penny stamps from the post office. At the pull of a trigger, the projectile instrument, or net gun, launches four weights that are attached to the netting. When the net traps the robber, the weights swing around the victim’s body, rendering him immobile.

“It’s not as easy as it might seem to get out of a hundred square-feet of nylon netting,” says the narrator.

Snatched!
Snatched! GIPHY

While you certainly can catch an adult human with a net gun today, the devices are not typically used to entrap robbers. Rather, they are a popular option to humanely trap animals, and even drones hovering in zones they shouldn’t be in. 

It may be “simple, cheap, and effective,” but net guns sadly never caught on as a primary way to capture criminals. 

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email [email protected].