Vandal knocks down 400-pound security robot — but it got photos, California cops say

A vandal in Northern California knocked over a 400-pound security robot earlier this month, according to police.

But the robot victim could get the last laugh: The Knightscope K5 robot captured photos of the suspect before it was damaged, according to the Hayward Police Department, which shared those images on Tuesday in hopes of catching the perpetrator.

The attacker pushed over the hulking white robot on Aug. 3, causing some damage to the “automated parking garage guardian,” police wrote in a Facebook post.

The images released by police show a suspect in a black T-shirt and jeans, apparently just as the person runs up to the robot in the parking garage.

“The Knightscope K5 robot is a project that was initiated in response to security and vandalism concerns at the Watkins Street garage,” police said. “You may have seen it roaming around the various levels of the parking structure 24 hours a day moving around at a blazing speed of 3 mph.”

Police asked anyone who recognizes the person in the photos to contact Hayward police.

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Knightscope, the company that creates the security robots, said in a statement on Aug. 10 that the Hayward robot “is expected to make a full & speedy recovery, suffering little to no long term damage.”

“Regardless, please help get the word out!” the company said. “K5 deserves justice … and dignity. Despite what some may think, these robots are just trying to help humans!”

It’s not the first San Francisco Bay Area security robot to fall victim to a marauding human: Police in Mountain View arrested a man in 2017 on suspicion of drunkenly knocking down a crime-fighting robot in the city, KGO reported.

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“I think this is a pretty pathetic incident because it shows how spineless the drunk guys in Silicon Valley really are because they attack a victim who doesn’t even have any arms,” said local Eamonn Callon, according to the TV station.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.