Yellow Jacket co-founder Sean Simone delivers a two-stun-gun jolt to an online reporter. (Yellow Jacket)
It’s an innocent-looking iPhone case. It comes in festive colors like pink and yellow. And if someone tries to mess with you while you’re talking to mom or playing Angry Birds, it’ll flame the fool with 650,000 volts.
Of course, Detroit is one of the target markets, because who’s better known for miscreants who need stun-gunning than us? And naturally, because Murphy’s Law is almost a city ordinance, you can’t legally buy it here.
But it’s still nice that the folks at Yellow Jacket thought of us (and Flint and Oakland, Calif.) for their first big public relations push.
In those three fair cities, “We noticed there was a rise in crime,” says John Yoon, the Baton Rouge company’s friendly and helpful publicist. “We wanted to let them know there was a solution to provide locals with personal protection.”
Part portable phone charger and part self-defense tool, the $99 Yellow Jacket is described as “the accessory for anyone that needs an added sense of security in their daily lives.”
So far, it’s available only for the iPhone 4 and 4s, but Yoon promises the company will be able to accommodate all of the iPhone 5 models by Christmas. Joy-buzzer to the world.
The Yellow Jacket came about after young Army veteran Seth Froom was accosted at his home in Louisiana and he realized the only potential weapon he always kept close at hand was his smart phone.
He and partner Sean Simone raised upward of $100,000 through a crowd-sourcing site and developed a case that not only protects phones from nicks and scratches, but leaves a welt.
Stun guns deliver high-voltage, low-amperage electrical charges directly to an assailant’s skin or clothing. They are not to be confused with Tasers, which shoot barbed electrodes and tend to leave their targets twitching and moaning on the floor.
By way of comparison, a $79.95 stun gun called the Stun Master Hot Shot delivers a 4.5 million-volt jolt that “has the power of Mickey Mantle’s bat” and will render someone “incapable of managing much more than drooling for about five to 10 minutes.”
In videos posted online, reporters zapped with the 650,000-volt Yellow Jacket had more muted reactions, like the one who winced and said, “Yeah, it definitely stings.”
Not exactly Mickey Mantle’s bat, or even Don Kelly’s. But it would probably be an unpleasant surprise for someone trying to snatch your phone, assuming you could pull back the safety cap, flip up the safety switch and press the button in time.
That also assumes you could buy a Yellow Jacket. In Michigan, only people with concealed pistol licenses and special training may own electro-muscular disruption devices.
Furthermore, they must be purchased from an in-state dealer rather than a website like yellowjacketcase.com.
Further furthermore, while Tasers are legal here, stun guns aren’t, because they don’t dispense bar-coded confetti that identifies the user the way Tasers do.
Still, we’ve been selected as a hot spot for the Yellow Jacket rollout.
“I’ve heard, you know ... (Detroit) can be dangerous,” Yoon explains. “A lot of vacated homes.”
In short, our reputation is so bleak that a start-up self-defense company is focusing on us, even though we can’t own its product.
Is anybody shocked?
Thank goodness for honesty
Jamie Samuelsen was driving through Troy on Thursday when he noticed something you don’t see every day, even in a wealthy suburb:
Money, blowing across the street.
That seemed like something worth stopping for, so he pulled over on Corporate Drive and started collecting cash. He wound up with $260 and a few receipts, but no identifying information.
He called the police, then dutifully reported to work at WXYT-FM (97.1), where he co-hosts the evening sports show with The Detroit News’ Bob Wojnowski. The found money led to an on-air discussion of scruples and a call from someone whose boss, Dave Brazen, had lost his wallet at that very spot.
Samuelsen tracked down Brazen on Friday and returned the bills. Meantime, someone else returned the wallet, and Brazen was so thankful he donated the money to the Salvation Army.
“Kind of a neat story,” Samuelsen says -- a win-win in the wind, and a nice reminder of the powers of radio and honesty.