I live in a world where magic is common. Most people have enough magic to do simple tasks like lighting a candle or healing minor injuries. Higher magic is very rare, and those individuals mostly devote their time to the study of magical arts and science. In the last 100 years, there have been great leaps of scientific progress, which have improved the lives of everyone. Most devices harness an individual's magic power to perform complex tasks through technology. The most recent innovation was short range teleportation. Magic includes elemental magic, healing, limited psychokinesis, barrier spells, and other staples of the magic arts.

How it works:

Basically everyone has a Magically Amplified Common Application Watch (Macaw). The teleportation function runs off the Macaw. I imagine a location or punch it into the holographic display, snap my fingers and I'm there. At locations a significant distance away (5 miles+) the landing location starts to get imprecise. Teleports over 20 miles are discouraged for safety reasons. There is a "cooldown" time of about 10 minutes after each teleport to allow a person's magic to recharge.

Why it works:

Don't ask me, I'm a shopkeeper not a scientist. I asked an arcanist about it one time and all I got was science talk and magic theory. Way over my head. From my extremely limited understanding, it takes the common magic that everyone has and twists it through certain techno-apparatuses. Despite only being able to light candles with my own magic, I can now teleport like a master wizard. People can teleport with any goods they are carrying or wearing. Somehow the Macaw makes reasonably accurate decisions about what is "on their person".

The Problem:

While this new-fangled teleportation is great for day to day activities, it's a nightmare for security. I run a small jewelry store in downtown Technistadt. I sell a lot of small, lightweight, but high-value items, perfect for a potential thief. I want to be able to secure my items from a thief teleporting in and out of the shop while still remaining open for business. Several stores have already been hit by smash-grab-teleport robberies, and it's just going to get worse as this technology becomes more common.

Some options I've already considered:

  • I've talked to the Macaw manufacturers. They told me they are not only unable to prevent people teleporting to a certain place, but all teleports are also untraceable. Seems like a major design flaw if you ask me.
  • Teleportation will fail if the landing location is too small or otherwise unsafe. Not sure I can apply that to an open shop though.
  • Some warehouse owner across town swears by his robot watchmen and poison gas traps. Good for him and all, but I'm trying to run a shop here, not a bunker. Whatever security measure I decide on could be visible to my customers, but shouldn't impede my business.
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    $\begingroup$ This question becomes hilarious when read with the knowledge that a macaw is a (often colorful) parrot. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 12 '16 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I'm glad someone appreciates the time I spend thinking up acronyms $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ On a more serious note, we need to know how magic functions in your world, specifically how the teleportation works. I realize you want to keep your question in the layman's perspective, but answers would come from the specialist's perspective and require that information. Otherwise, you can just handwave it and say the thingamajig prevents teleportation. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 12 '16 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ There is no problem, because you're not the first or only shopkeep in the world to have encountered this problem, and you can buy the solution over at the corner store. How does it work? I don't know, I'm just a shop keep. Just put it in the room and turn it on. $\endgroup$ – user151841 Aug 12 '16 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ @schil227 Besides the loss of window shoppers, I would also lose customers wanting to just tele to the store to shop. A hard-to-get-to shop is soon a bankrupt one. $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 17:21

38 Answers 38


How about hanging birds and mobiles from the ceiling - something that's easily pushed aside by a person when they're in the shop but it removes the spaces that can be easily teleported in to.

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    $\begingroup$ Really funny idea, a cheap mans version of locking down space, just by having strips hanging from ceiling to the floor, only it doesn't stop people from teleporting away. Ofcourse you just ban those devices in the store. $\endgroup$ – Necessity Aug 12 '16 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ Why not have a bubble machine going 24/7. Talk about whimsical... $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Aug 12 '16 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ I want to see Catherine Zeta Jones teleport into a store wearing all black, carefully contorted into just the right shape to avoid your security measures. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 12 '16 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ It won't work at all. The problem is not people teleporting in, but people grabbing something and teleporting out. The 10 minutes cooldown means a quick teleport in + grab something + teleport out won't work. Unless it's possible for someone to equip two teleportation devices, and use one to get in, and the other one to get out. $\endgroup$ – vsz Aug 12 '16 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ This works for night robberies, but presents a major flaw for attacks during the day: the robber can simply walk in the store, take the jewels and safely teleport outside. $\endgroup$ – Josh Part Aug 12 '16 at 17:41

Use your shop to display replicas of your jewels.

The easiest way to not have to worry about shoplifting is to not have anything to steal. Luckily, the MACAW offers an easy solution for this: simply keep all of your wares off-site and show your customers replicas of all of your jewels. Then, when a customer wants to purchase a jewel, you can simply have your assistant teleport in with the actual jewel for inspection and purchase.

With a 10-minute cooldown, you'll likely want two assistants. Every ten minutes, one will teleport to your warehouse with a list of all of the jewels people are interested in as well as any jewels that need to be transported back to the warehouse for safekeeping, and the other will collect those jewels and teleport back.

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    $\begingroup$ Good plan, especially given there's holograph technology. I'll just have to make sure the warehouse manager's robo-sentries stand down when needed. $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ And the thief will use a tracking spell or whatever to figure out where the warehouse is, then use the fact that the robos stand down at known times to steal your stuff. It will be a good amount of complex work for them, but I am sure the motivated ones will do it. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Aug 12 '16 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist I hope they won't be able to track me, since the makers of MACAW have told us that all teleports are untraceable. $\endgroup$ – ckersch Aug 12 '16 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Krumia, alternatively the safehouse can have guards who shoot anyone teleporting inside, except the shopkeeper or his assistants. The author told that such measures in a shop would scare away the customers, but there are no customers in the storehouse. $\endgroup$ – user31264 Aug 14 '16 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist if a criminal could trace your assistant, you could use the same spell to trace any thieves, and it all becomes moot. The question works on the assumption that teleports cannot be traced $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Aug 15 '16 at 13:39

Retractable floor. At night, the shopkeeper presses a small garage door open/close style button that retracts that floor leaving the show cases suspended over a 20 foot deep pit (read as 'your basement') filled with 4 foot deep pool of a tarry slimy substance that's covered in feathers. A few hangings can prevent people from teleporting ontop of the cases and instead fall into the pit below when they teleport in.

Search for the criminal the next day by looking for a tarred and feathered thief. Filling the pool with red dye could create a more literal 'caught red handed' situation if you prefer.

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    $\begingroup$ @Kys I had a few other ideas for the pool below. Sharks with fricken lasers strapped to their head for example. If the Macaw was anything like an apple phone, you should be able to get away with two drops of water which should permanently fry the device until they can get Macaw support to teleport in. If it is waterproof, then near freezing water would create a fun 10 minute ice bath for the thief. Thousands of magical moths that eat clothing within 10 minutes? Hey, we have access to magic and a thief stuck in a pit for 10 minutes...is stinking cloud or summon sewage a spell in your world? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Aug 12 '16 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ Or I could just retract my show cases into a vault... $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Kys - then you have a thief vs vault scenario...in a magical world (knock knock) that ends up in the thief's favor more often than not. Is your shops basement big enough to theoretically fit a Rancor down there? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Aug 12 '16 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of the old Ankh-Morporkian proverb: "Set a deep hole with spring-loaded sides, tripwires, whirling knife blades driven by water power, broken glass and scorpions, to catch a thief." $\endgroup$ – Ethan Aug 15 '16 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelSchumacher - I considered break and enter / theft lesser crimes...Though the ability to heat your store with lava in the basement is probably a plus, I was going to humiliation/humor value over death. Mind you, the Rancor scenario is probably death if you aren't a Jedi thief. If you want visually funny, setting up a staircase ala MC Escher's Relativity and letting them fall down stairs across multiple dimensions would be great. You could charge admission to that one. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Aug 15 '16 at 20:06

If there is a 10 minute cool-down period, why do you have a security problem? They pop in, grab something, and...busted. Unless they are waiting around for 10 minutes and then popping out with said valuable.

In this case the answer is simple - no MACAW devices are allowed in the store. You could probably pay a wizard or witch to cast a MACAW barrier to the entrance of the store, preventing the device from entering through normal means.

If a MACAW pops in, your bouncers will be happy to collect the device and return it as the patron leaves. Bouncers are helpful like that.

EDIT You are right to need evening security as well. Here you can either go standard and lock everything up in a vault or lock boxes - very cumbersome and expensive. A better bet would be to install a security system and an overnight sleeping spell. They get in, motion detectors alert the authorities and the sleeping spell keeps the perps right where they are.

Arguably, you are building a "mouse trap", of sorts, but what is one to do in a magical society?

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    $\begingroup$ I am also concerned about overnight robberies, where someone can teleport in and out without supervision. The magic police have notoriously slow response times, so my night watchman would appreciate some passive defenses. $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ I kind of pictured the issue being someone in the store as usual, holding something (to examine it), and saying "Thanks" before vanishing. $\endgroup$ – A N Aug 12 '16 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ @AN Both situations apply equally. I want to have daytime security for scenarios like that while still preventing overnight break-ins. $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ This is the best answer; a magical barrier is really the only solution, whether it is preventing MACAWs from entering the store or preventing teleportation into or outside of the store. $\endgroup$ – TylerH Aug 13 '16 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ They could also just walk in, then pop out, they don't have any reason to teleport in $\endgroup$ – fyrepenguin Aug 13 '16 at 6:00

If a Macaw is able to precisely aim for a location and determine whether or not the user's dimensions can be accommodated, then it has a targeting sensor. If it has a targeting sensor, technological or magical, then it has a weakness, and someone would discover a way to fool it. Perhaps the device or application fools the sensor into thinking the space is full of hanging mobiles (or solid rock), perhaps it merely deflects the sensor to the perimeter, either way your Macaw won't deliver you to the desired location.

As a side-effect this device or application fools Macaws in the room into thinking they are elsewhere (or nowhere at all), which has the effect of preventing outbound teleportation. Turn on the device, or coat an object with it, and you've made it invisible to the Macaw and therefore safe from teleportation.

Now this may be beyond the abilities of a humble shopkeeper to come up with himself, but out there, somewhere, perhaps in a back-alley market, there is a solution to be purchased.

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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking something like this too. A sort of faraday cage around the shop that stops teleportation. $\endgroup$ – Daniel T. Aug 13 '16 at 2:53
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    $\begingroup$ As a slightly more permanent solution, maybe the sensor can be fooled into registering solid rock as nice, open space... $\endgroup$ – Michael Schumacher Aug 14 '16 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ The counter to this device is to not use a sensor at all and just do lots and lots of smaller teleportations. Presuming the sender knows the location of the target ship, they could blanket that volume with molecule sized teleportations. If the teleport succeeds then that's a viable target volume. If it fails, don't send your bigger payload there. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 15 '16 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Green I'm assuming the sensor is absolutely necessary for the device to work, even if you can see where you want to go and it is close. $\endgroup$ – rek Aug 15 '16 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ schlockmercenary.wikia.com/wiki/Teraport_Area_Denial $\endgroup$ – clacke Aug 19 '16 at 8:48

You know that annoying ink bomb (in our real world) that clothing stores sometimes forget to remove? Or those electronic tags that set off the door-alarms at Target? Attach those to your wares.

I assume that with the technology of this world, there is something akin to wireless communications, like Wi-fi. (Otherwise, how would MACAWS parse location data? Surely there is a Google-Maps-esque Internet (or, MACAWnet) database for locations)

Make the equivalent of ink bombs/electronic tags, that stay deactivated while connected to the Wi-fi in your store. When they're teleported out, they explode ink all over the thief/notify the police of the thief's location/etc.

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    $\begingroup$ This brings new meaning to the phrase "spell tags" $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ This would probably be the most realistic way to stop thieves in this mythical way. $\endgroup$ – Evan Carslake Aug 13 '16 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Kys There was an old meaning? $\endgroup$ – Bradley Uffner Aug 16 '16 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ Make these explosive devices the stimulated demo jewels. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Aug 16 '16 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ I was going to say... "Exploding runes" $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Aug 16 '16 at 20:35

Teleportation doesn't really change the nature of shop lifting. It is just a more effective method for what is currently accomplished by young legs and good running shoes. So do what we do in the real world...

Shatter-proof (bullet-proof before there was bullets) glass cabinets.

If the burglaries are all smash and grab, putting your products in floor-mounted smash-proof display cases will keep them from being grabbed.

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    $\begingroup$ This does well for smash and grab robberies, but how do I prevent a midnight thief from lockpicking their way into my goods? The Technistadt Thieves Guild is notorious... $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ Combine @ChrisJ's hanging defenses, my shatter-proof boxes, and a macaw check girl (like a coat check girl but for macaws) at the door and you are golden. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Aug 12 '16 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ >*The Technistadt Thieves Guild* Buy their theft insurance then, if your competitors can afford it then you should be able too! $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Aug 15 '16 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ you could just teleport the cases to a bunker every night $\endgroup$ – Justin Ohms Aug 20 '16 at 19:07

In the day

Attach every item in the store to a thin, very strong wire that's fixed to something larger and ultimately to the wall or the floor itself. Customers can examine the items, but the items will remain fixed to the wire.

Here's what it looks like:

enter image description here

Video: INOX Stainless Steel Jewelry Anti-Theft Ring Display

I'm not sure exactly how the Macaw would handle an item that was both held by the user and fixed to the interior of the shop. Would the wire break? Would the whole wall teleport with the guy? Or would the item remain in the shop? I'm not sure, as I didn't invent the rules of this teleportation premise. But I think this wire is a feasible solution.

The items should also be stored beneath tough, hardened glass or another transparent material. Customers have to ask if they want to examine some item more closely.

The wire could be cut with the right tools but you or a security guard should be watching the customers while they handle the items. This is quite common in the real world. Salesmen don't just hand customers a Rolex and then let them wander off. It's normal to stay with customers while they examine expensive items (the salesman can also then give advice and assistance.) Thus, watching the customer, you'll have enough time to react if someone pulls out tools to try to cut the strong wires. There may also be an alarm sounding if a wire is cut. This means that even if a customer managed to stealthily cut a wire, they'd have to teleport out immediately, limiting their loot to one item. However, one single item can still be very valuable. Therefore, the most important thing is to watch the customers while they handle the items.

The shop should also be under video surveillance. This means that even if anyone would happen to trick all your routines, they should still expect that a picture of their face will be forwarded to the police.

In the night

You lock up the shop just like any shop in the real world. This means you have 10 minutes to act on Macaw intruders. A normal burglary alarm can detect people having entered. The alarm is forwarded to your private residence, as well as to a private security firm and possibly even the police. You (together with private, armed security personnel and maybe the police) use your own Macaws to teleport into the shop, catch the intruder and confiscate his Macaw, well within the 10 minute window.


Your security budget and posture will drive a lot of this.

One easy way to solve this is to have a safe, put all your valuables in the safe, and never allow any individual other than yourself to view the room containing the safe, or the interior of the safe. This prevents the 'must visualize' component of the MACAW from functioning. Your business would operate as many elite jewelers operate, whereby you emerge from a backroom to present the article for the customer's inspection. As it sounds like your sales volume may be a bit too high for this option, we have to move to something else.

I suggest the following security technologies:

  • two-layer plexiglass containers with dead space in between the layers.
  • sensitive disturbance sensor within the dead space
  • glass break sensor with rapid response time inside the display case (to detect the smashing of the internal case)
  • weight sensors with a rapid response time inside the display case (to detect the addition of a 'very heavy' object to the display case, like a midget or child teleporting inside the case).
  • a remote triggering device for individual cases, tied to actuators available to the store's security staff
  • taggant dispersal device (<1second between initiation and full dispersion) inside the central case containing the valuables, tied to the weight, glass break, and remote trigger.
  • alarm to alert the security staff tied to the disturbance sensor between the internal and external cases.
  • security staff sufficient to cover the store (based on your total square footage, this number may be as low as one if you have a small number of display cases and cannot fit more than three customers into your store while you and the security officer are present), armed with electrical control devices (and firearms if the jurisdiction permits).

You have several goals here

  • defeat the ability of the thief to fence your goods
  • lengthen the time between the first hostile act by the thief and the completion of the removal of the protected article
  • prevent surreptitious removal of goods during off hours
  • prevent non-teleporting theft
  • avoid injuring patrons who inadvertently trigger security measures.
  • alert the security staff to a theft in progress to permit intervention

A teleporting thief who enters the display case directly gets a face full of taggant. A store employee manipulating the jewelery does not. A miscreant or customer who smashes the external case triggers the intervention of security staff (everyone please step back while we help this customer to their feet and fix the case//eat taser u dirty thief//there are too many of these assholes, fire the taggant). A thief who smashes the external and internal cases without triggering staff intervention triggers the release of taggant before being able to activate his MACAW.

As far as the taggant goes, ideally, magically enabled 'tracking goo', invisible without special equipment or magic, that the local PD can track well enough to teleport to the thief and retrieve them within the ten minute window would be perfect.

As for the dispersion device, ideally it is silent, invisible and unobtrusive (so it can be triggered during an armed assault without exposing the store staff to additional risk), but the old glowsitcks-ducktaped-to-flashbang could work too if you do not have access to fancy tech.

  • $\begingroup$ Well thought out and written. This fits both the daytime and nighttime requirements and can be combined with some of the other answers as well. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 12 '16 at 20:25

My first thought is to take advantage of that ~10 minute cool down. Seeing as there isn't an existing method of tracking/preventing teleportation and the shopkeep doesn't/can't comprehend how the device functions; that means we should cope with the fact that these break ins are likely to happen. Let's assume the shop is going to be broken into.

Seal the shop

These break-ins aren't likely to happen during operating hours, so naturally the shop should be locked. Install a set of motion trackers inside the shop that are designed to set off defense systems only during off hours/days.

Now we have the thief; they teleport in, grab for the first thing they want to steal, and the system detects the motion. Use this to trigger a system that seals the shop (as much as is physically possible for this world and is within reason for the shop owner). Now, the thief isn't too worried because they can teleport out in about ten minutes. That's when you trigger the second system, a series of gas traps (because your neighbor actually has a really good idea). This puts the thief in an unconscious state. At best they're trapped in the shop with a bunch of gas and were smart enough to bring a gas mask. This is why you also set off an alarm that alerts that appropriate authorities and lets them know exactly what to expect.

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    $\begingroup$ Better yet: keep everything in watertight containers and just flood your shop with water when you're gone. Let's see how many thieves can hold their breath for 10 minutes. Then let's see how many thieves can hold their breath for 10 minutes when I release the sharks. >:) $\endgroup$ – ckersch Aug 12 '16 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ That's a pretty terrifying way to go, but you would never get robbed twice. $\endgroup$ – Susannah Potts Aug 13 '16 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ It'd be better to extract the air from the shop at night. You void any water damage or gas casualties. When you open the shop door (with a non-trivial lock!), air enters automatically, so you won't get injured by your own trap. $\endgroup$ – Ángel Aug 13 '16 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose with magic so advanced they'd have SCUBAs though. If there are no water-containment fields then it would be obvious that the shop is designed to be flooded at night, so no surprise here. $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Aug 15 '16 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ckersch Why bother with water and sharks when You can simply release ordinary, air breathing pitbulls? $\endgroup$ – mg30rg Aug 17 '16 at 14:46

Teleportation will fail if the landing location is too small or otherwise unsafe. Not sure I can apply that to an open shop though.

Here's the tricky thing about teleports: the landing location is always inherently "too small or otherwise unsafe", because no matter where they're teleporting into--assuming we remain reasonably close to the planet's surface, of course--it's going to be full of air that can't exist in the same place at the same time as the person.

Normally this isn't much of a problem, since the air will move out of our way as we walk around, and flow around us to fill in the space we just vacated. But if our movement through space isn't continuous because we're teleporting, we've got some serious physical problems to work out in order to take care of all that air. And I'm assuming that someone did work it out somehow if the technology is in common use, because if the air stays in the same place as you appear, it could get mixed in with your body, and that can really ruin your whole day.

This means that whatever's being teleported has to displace all that air. If you want a general idea of the effects of sudden air displacement, blow up a balloon and then stick it with a pin, and keep in mind that this is a very small amount of air, both by mass and by volume. Having an amount of air equivalent to an adult human be suddenly displaced would be very noticeable, and more to the point, it would have to happen before the person teleports in, so they don't get embolisms and die.

If there's magical technology to make this happen, then there should be a way to detect the sudden air displacement. Set up a continuous spell that monitors for it, and when it happens, forces a bunch of air directly into the space being evacuated. By the description offered, this would probably cause the teleportation to fail. If not, it would really ruin the thief's day.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ In the novel (series) Jumper air (or water!) was not a problem. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 15 '16 at 2:22

This assumes that your teleporting doesn't magically push things aside to make room for your arrival. Get a bunch of metal cable, and create a grid of spools in the ceiling in a grid about a foot apart. Each cable will have a weight attached to it that, and is long enough to go from floor to ceiling.

In the evening, you let the cables down so the entire interior of your shop has floor-to-ceiling cables. Depending on how the teleporting determines space, they either won't be able to port in, or they will port in and will be skewered with a cable in them.

In the morning, you crank the cables back up into the ceiling.

So you need to clarify two questions as well:

  1. Does the teleportation brush aside objects where you might land, or does it shunt you nearby? At what size/mass of object? Wires, rods, solid cement? (Heck, even dust... Do you suddenly get filled with dust when you port into a dusty room?

  2. How precisely do you have to know or imagine a target location? Do you have to know any details of the shop, or do you just imagine a shop by name? What if the shop is fictional? Can you just imagine "I want to go to Betty Crocker's (a fictional character) kitchen and somehow you will go somewhere?

If you or someone has to have some physical knowledge of the target location, you could defeat teleportation that way: have the shop change its internal configuration on a continuous and mechanical way so there's no way that anyone can know what the shop is like now. Or blindfold people before escorting them beyond the foyer, and they examine jewels while inside secure viewing rooms, never seeing the location where the jewels are stored.


There are a number of possibilities, depending on which target is being protected against: open hours shoplifting, or after hours shenanigans.

First, open hours shoplifting. This would consist of people attempting to grab and item and absconding via a teleport. Since teleportation cannot be blocked usually, there is really no way of preventing people from teleporting out of your store.

This devolves into two main options - removing access to MACAWs via something like a "check your MACAWs at the door" policy combined with a MACAW detector of some kind - or having an magically or mechanically automated vault system of some kind where product is represented holographically, with false-models for those who wish to touch, feel, and heft; once a purchase is completed the system would be delivered to the counter via pneumatic tubes/trained mongoose/dancing gerbils/trained birds (i suggest macaws)/magical constructs/etc, from a secure location which product is stored.

This location would store items in close proximity such that at no time is there space that a human would fit, and delivers via a small method that also humans could not fit or intrude upon. Larger items would have to have some method of being picked up from the vault, probably by an assistant and teleported to the shop.

In-store items would need to be inside cases that a human would not fit in, and would also need to be made of a suitably strong material... I suggest clear-steel. Solid metal enchanted specially to be completely transparent.

After hours protection for the vault system, since it is too small for a human to teleport inside, would consist of access prevention, and proximity detection methods, similar to preventing anyone from entering a bank vault. In-store protection should be fairly easy, one simply needs to make the space un-safe. Retractable hanging wires/tinsel or something similar would fill the space where people walk through. Teleporting into a solid object, or having a solid object inside of you at teleport-end equals un-safe in pretty much everyone's books. As such, the teleport should fail every time. Therefore, you are left merely with more normal access prevention, just like everyone else.

  • $\begingroup$ Looks like this has happened to your username? $\endgroup$ – Revetahw Aug 13 '16 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ A "mechanically automated vault system", like one of these mystical devices? $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Aug 14 '16 at 0:35

MACAW units seem like amazingly handy personal devices. However, the fact that they're so small and so multi-functional means they're probably not nearly as capable (at any one specific task) as a single-purpose industrial-sized state-of-the-art machine.

(In much the same way that our modern-day smartphones aren't as powerful as our desktop computers, which aren't as powerful as large-scale supercomputers.)

The company producing MACAW units probably has cross-country transporter hubs in major cities. These large-scale stationary units, being much higher-powered and much more directionally focused (pre-calibrated for very specific startpoint-to-endpoint paths), are capable of sending travelers 1000+ miles safely while hardly affecting a passenger's personal-magic recharge time.

Similarly, a medium-sized, stationary (and well-calibrated) "portal" unit could be installed between a storefront and the actual store itself 50+ miles away. This benefits shop-owners in multiple ways:

  • Location, Location, Location
    Prime real estate is expensive. Mainstreet may be the best place to get foot-traffic into your store but every square-foot of floor space costs good money. Portals could let a store-owner build a large shop on cheap land while staying connected to a good foot-traffic location. Furthermore, a single store could have multiple "locations" if the savvy owner buys additional storefront locations that all connect back to their main shop.
  • Storefront / Store / Warehouse
    Bespoke items like jewelry and tailor made clothing may be created/altered in "the back room" of a store, but if land is expensive it's often the case that items are shipped back and forth to a secondary location/warehouse where workspace is less expensive. Portals allow shop owners to build their stores attached to their warehouse/workspace. This would mean a shopkeeper could keep an eye on both the front-of-house and back-of-house portions of his or her business more easily. It also means a clerk can easily "check in back" to see if a sold out item might have any more stock.
  • Security
    Finally, the reason the OP was specifically asking about. Since portals separate the storefront from the actual store, that means the store can be built someplace that discourages unauthorized MACAW transport. If a store is 50+ miles deep into the Earth or 50+ miles out in orbit no one is going to dare to transport there free-style with their MACAW (or try transporting back for the same reason) and therefore the only way in or out is through the "front door". Therefore typical lock-down security measures become effective again. In practice, the store locations need not be quite that remote or inhospitable so long as they still "might be" and no one is willing to test whether their getaway location is actually within MACAW distance, but I guess that all depends on how well magic-GPS works and whether or not it can be tricked/spoofed.

You think of it as a problem. Rather, it's an opportunity.

  • To solve the security problem:

    • Magically create a pocket dimension. Assemble your shop there.
    • Buy a shop (I recommend downtown Technistadt.)
    • Create a portal that links the physical door to the entrance of your pocket dimension shop.

This way, teleporters will land on an empty shop. Here comes the opportunity!

  • Benefiting from malicious teleporters:
    • Grow a Gelatinous Cube on your shop, filling the whole room.
    • Befriend a Greater Doppelganger. (Don't ask me how.)
    • When a teleporter arrive, he/she will be paralyzed by the Cube.
    • Let Big Doppy absorb its memories and appearance.
    • Retrieve all valuable possessions from the late teleporter.
    • Profit!

During the day you souldn't have much of a problem, just forbid MACAWs like somebody else suggested.

During the night you could just store all your valuables in a safe. They can't teleport directly inside because it's too small and if they just teleport near the safe they'll have to crack it first, at which point it becaomes almost identical to any traditional robbery.

Another method would be to hide valuables during the night, if the thief doesn't know where they are he can't teleport to them. This effect could be amplified by using traps. Even if the thief takes a guess thinking that, at worst, he'll teleport into an empty room and have to wait 10 mintues, you can fill the rooms with traps so that the thief will teleport into a pool of water containing venomous fish, if you don't want to kill them (the water would short-circuit the MACAW and the fish would incapacitate the thief) or over a spike pit if you want to kill/severely injure them.

Yet another method would be to attack ropes with bells on the ceiling. During the day these are raised, during the night they are lowered so that any thief will set them of after teleporting in, giving you (and/or your employees) 10 minutes to apprehend him.

You could also use the MAKAW against the thieves; attach one to every case (they're not lying around in the open where any pickpocket could grab them, right?) so that when it is opened or smashed the MAKAW will teleport it to a location known only to you. Or just inside a safe.

  • $\begingroup$ You'd have to charge the MACAW devices with magical energy; all they do is manipulate yours. In which case, clever enough thieves might use the energy from the charged MACAW to teleport away, or spend ten minutes beforehand pre-charging theirs so they have an extra jump "in the bank". $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Aug 12 '16 at 18:33

The essential problem is with thieves teleporting out of the store, not with thieves teleporting in. In is easy to solve.

Puppy Dogs

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Specifically, any teleporting magic will have to push out of the way any matter in the way of the incoming body. It is a lot harder to push out solid matter than air, so you're better off teleporting into non objects. That said, any displacement will cause sound and a distinctive one at that: a pop with accompanying minor air pressure shift. Easy to train a dog to get on that right quick: a tried and true method for property protection. Thieves are less likely to mess with you if they know they could get their leg chewed on. Plus real customers have a hard time ignoring the cute. It adds character to your shop!

(Note that it's likely people will quickly form etiquette to not suddenly show up inside places, as in the Vladimir Taltos novels.)


The actual problem is thieves leaving. You've already mentioned a communication and reference watch, so we know magic exists that can communicate. All you need as a shop owner at this point is some magic that tags customers as they come in. A "cookie" if you will: Communication Originated by Offending Kleptos Intradimensional Exit. Any one passing into the store has a temporary charm laid on them that notifies the police CROW where they are should they leave the barrier area not through the door.

At this juncture it's just a police case like it would be in a normal shoplifting scenario. And the thing is: it needn't be a perfect measure. It just needs to be better than the warehouse owner's measures, so thieves know to go for the low hanging fruit. (That guy really should have utilized the choo choo train idea.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The modern thief is not afraid of an alarm system. They have at least 3 minutes before the cops show up or more. But with a dog, they don't have 30 seconds. +1 for the least expensive most practical answer besides, you know, a safe. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Aug 12 '16 at 20:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ErinThursby The purpose of locks is to protect you from the 98% of mostly honest people, after all. Spending a fortune on trap doors is just a fortune you spent. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Ford Aug 12 '16 at 20:24

This is similar to a real-world problem that has largely been solved: shops in airports and train stations. We don't have the ability to magically teleport, but slipping away into a large crowd is disappearing all the same.

Airports solve this a number of ways. Anything that's out in the open and easily grabbed is a low-value item, like a magazine or a bag of candy (not worth the expense of elaborate security). Higher-value items are sold either by vending machine or in a manned kiosk. In either case, merchandise is locked inside a cabinet until paid for. Customers can still see the goods and ask employees questions, but your merchandise isn't at risk. Jewelry is a bit more difficult since it normally needs to be tried on, but a holographic display and cheap costume jewelry replicas can eliminate a lot of that problem.

When the merchandise is locked inside a display cabinet until after the sale, you largely take the teleporter out of the equation. You'd need the same basic security as in the real world - sturdy, tamper-resistant cabinets; security cameras; alarms; guards; etc - which I'm assuming would be much cheaper than elaborate traps or magic-powered security devices. The only advantage a thief would gain from a teleport is the ability to grab something from a customer after they've purchased it and blink away, but that's not a problem you're going to be able to solve. This sort of teleport technology would be a dream come true for a purse snatcher or pickpocket, and I'd expect most thefts would occur out in public since that presents a wealth of much softer targets.


I've talked to the Macaw manufacturers. They told me they are not only unable to prevent people teleporting to a certain place, but all teleports are also untraceable. Seems like a major design flaw if you ask me.

So talk to their competitors instead. Someone else will come up with a security spell to either block the teleportation in one direction or the other, or worse, as a deterrent, cause anyone teleporting in to materialize inside-out.

  • $\begingroup$ Advanced Volumunous Information Aggregation Networking Technologies (AVIAN Tech) has no competitors. They were the early bird in the wearable technology market. They have an eagle eye for new technology and watch their potential competitors like hawks. You might say they rule the roost in that market. $\endgroup$ – Kys Aug 15 '16 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ Yea, and you can’t copy a DVD because Sony et al. doesn’t want such products to exist. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 15 '16 at 14:26

If a macaw is small enough to fit on someone's wrist, then there is no reason why a macaw can be installed as part of the entire shop. Now a smash and grabber teleports in to rob your shop, the macaw immediately teleport-ejects any potential thief from teleporting in. Security by teleportation.

However, there will need to be a selection mechanism to prevent legitimate shoppers from being ejected. There could be a welcome area where shoppers can teleportatively land and be vetted as shoppers and not thieves. Landing anywhere else in the shop will lead to automatic ejection.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. Please note that the Worldbuilding SE is dedicated to completely answering the questions as presented. We strongly discourage one-line answers, as they typically lack the detail we expect and are more suited as a comment. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 12 '16 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ Hi robotic_ pants! Welcome to Worldbuilding. I edited your answer to expand on the ideas I thought you had proposed. Now if I've gotten that completely wrong you are more than welcome to edit your answer to faithfully reflect your thinking. Please make sure your answers have enough detail to explain your ideas fully. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 13 '16 at 5:06
  1. Seal your shop so it has no doors leading into the interior.
  2. Create a receiving area, which is one room attached to the shop and visible through windows, into which you invite your customers to teleport, with clear and large signs.
  3. Limit the time your customers spend in the shop to 10 minutes. They may leave through a one-way exit door and teleport back into the receiving area in order to continue shopping.
  4. Only allow the number of people into the shop at once that can be observed by you and your staff. This could be just one, or 10--but whatever will be the number that you will not be distracted and fail to notice a new person arriving.
  5. To enforce the 10-minute limit by keeping the number of customers small enough to manage, post signs that say "Any teleportations arriving inside the shop outside of the receiving area will be shot on sight." Shoot people on sight who teleport into the shop outside of the receiving area.

At night time, all your display cases lower into the floor with machinery (themselves being too small in internal compartments for anyone to teleport into) and are concealed with many-inch-thick steel plates. For all you care, the walls could even retract so everything is open to the air and there is no temptation to break in--just walk into what amounts to a sideless patio. There is nothing to pick--the machinery is operated using magic (that amounts to a password that is impossible to guess).


After the introduction of the MACAW our firm is proud to present the PUT, the Pinpoint Undulation Transmitter. These piece of strips will move the desired teleportation point a small distance to a strip, allowing you to pinpoint your location within a thumb's width. The modulation phase of the strip does not influence the height of the location, this will be completely unchanged.

Please remember that the translation effect begins in the range of 3 steps and forces a pinpoint landing within the range of 1-2 steps. The strips can be easily detached and incinerated on the fly. We also offer strips which destroy themselves without a trace after usage.

WARNING: Please do not use a strip inside or near a wall, this can cause instant death or severe mutilation of body parts.

Magic World News, 10 Springmonth After the introduction of the new PUTs a strange series of "accidents" haunts the usage of the MACAW. Several people have been found dead or screaming with severe mutilations inside other's peoples stores and houses. Other people have found themselves inside cages, fish tanks or sewage containers. The PUT company denies any involvement and says that there is currently not a shred of evidence that their product is responsible and, even if there would be a connection, their legal disclaimer is bullet-proof.

The MACAW company admits that it is not impossible to have deviations of meters, but they say it is very rare and they never found a serious deviation when used in the open field.


Most of these answers seem too complex, no need for nerve gas and Faraday cages.


Bar up the display cases. Most people bar up their shops, but now the thieves can get past that, so simply move the bars further in. With the right set of bars and locks you can stop all but the most determined thieves. For that case, that is what insurance is for.


A gun.


The simplest method to prevent a would be thief from teleporting into a store would be to surround the entire structure with a device that behaved like a Faraday Cage.

A Faraday Cage can block out electromagnetic waves including high voltage electricity, as well as radio waves, television waves, WiFi signals, etc. It should also prevent the electromagnetic waves from passing inside of it from a teleporter as well.

The owner would simply need to have a cage built around the store so the thieves cannot teleport inside.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The original post specifies "they are [...] unable to prevent people teleporting to a certain place." This seems to rule out Faraday Cages being an effective way to block teleporters. $\endgroup$ – sumelic Aug 14 '16 at 3:30

Due to the cooldown, teleporting into the shop is really no concern since people will use the device to teleport out, not in. That's why the accepted answer will only deter real customers and provide absolutely no defense against real thiefs.

In theory, you'd use the same methods used today:

  • Insurance
  • Overnight safes
  • Cameras, or other means of identification
  • Law enforcement

In practice, law enforcement is completely useless because they can't arrest anybody - any bad guy who's stopped by law enforcement will just teleport to a random untraceable location before their identity can even be established.

Because law enforcement wont be able to arrest anyone - be it thief, murderer, rapist, or slaver - society will crumble, and you will face looters rather than thieves. What you really should do is sell your shop while you still can, buy/build a hidden bunker, store lots of food, and wait for the inevitable collapse of civilization.


Install a CITY (Crystal Induction Transparency Yard) in your store. And then encase all of your goods in a block of MAPP (Magically Altered Pseudo-Plastic).

The properties of MAPP are:

  • Generated by a CITY, in the shape the user desires
  • Resists scrying
  • Nearly transparent while in the matching CITY
  • When removed from the matching CITY, becomes opaque and black
  • When removed from the matching CITY, emits a loud, annoying tone
  • Can be dissolved harmlessly while within the matching CITY, but only with a specific, magic key (as in a spell and password, not a physical key)
  • If damaged (even in the CITY), the damaged layers transform into a highly corrosive substance that does not damage the remaining MAPP

The CITY is generated by a special, specific crystal, and the energy of the person who charges it. One charge (about the same energy as one teleport) will last 64.8 hours, but the crystal can hold up to five charges (to allow for vacations). Because the CITY relies on both the shape and structure of the crystal, and the specific energy of the user, it is nearly impossible to duplicate.

Even if the goods are stolen, they will be difficult to sell if the buyer can't see what they are (or hear what the thief is saying). And if the thief tries to dig them out, he risks injuring himself, and destroying the jewelry; either by hitting it because he can't see it, or by having it dissolved by the MAPP corrosive.

Any legitimate customer can still see the goods.

And they are easier to display and store because each it in its own transparent cube/rectangular prism.


The ideal solution would be something akin to a lodestone for teleports. Anyone trying to teleport in to the shop lands in a receiving room, which could be nice and open and a regular way to travel to the shop. (possibly with a nice door chime) Anyone trying to teleport out of the shop would likewise land in the receiving room, with ringing bells etc. the door could be locked from the inside, and customers need to be "buzzed" out.

At night the room could be far less nice, and less open. :)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Lodestone, not "load"stone. $\endgroup$ – rek Aug 12 '16 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ D'oh! I hate when that happens. $\endgroup$ – Seeds Aug 15 '16 at 14:31

People teleporting in or out don't really matter. What matters is your stuff getting teleported away. Well, there's a market for disposable security labels like this one: RFID label

Typical set should consist of label-sealing device (unless they are self-sealing), label-removing device (ideally only working if it's provided with the same code as label-sealing device, only at working hours and inside the store) and a ton of labels - those are expendables and producer would be making his profits off them mostly.

If you sell a thing, you remove a label from it (or deactivate the label).

Those labels should be as small as possible so they don't deface your goods. Having met that, they could be as cool as you would allow them to be - maybe having some alarm system onboard or even means of subduing the carrier - but that's not necessairy. Local cops would love the device that automatically notifies about thief with evidence on him any cop that walks by.

Systems from the same vendor could collaborate so alarm is triggered for any label out-of-its-place, even if it's from another store (so your thief would be busted while walking past some supermarket, for example), but that really depends on pricing and may be unfeasible.

If MACAW technology can be applied over arbitrary shapes you have a much bigger problems though.


Assuming 5 miles is the maximum you can teleport accurately, simply(!) build your shop in a location that is inaccessible within 5 miles.

This could be a bunker under the ground, in a mountain, or even floating high up in the sky.

If you built it 5 miles beneath the ground, and put a secure building above it (something impossible to teleport into, for example by making it heavily trapped or with a security system that is manually disabled during the day) then no-one would be able to get into the shop unless they teleport from above during working hours.

You could extend this, to having to teleport twice to enter the shop, by building your ship 10 miles under ground and having a 'stop' half way where while you recharge. This will stop you from being able to flee if something is stolen.

If there are any materials or signal jammers that can shorten the 5 miles then this will help in constructing it closer to the surface.


A much simpler method however would simply be to have a pressure plate that measures the weight of everyone in the room. If someone spontaneously appears the building goes on lock down (or if it's night, the intruder is shot or sprayed with jam).


Every one here seems to be considering ways to thwart the M.A.C.A.W. If it is amplifying a persons innate magical ability, then all one has to do to prevent it is remove that ability or lessen it to the point they can only teleport a few feet.

Larson's Botanical Lexicon states that

"witch-bane: is harmless to most creatures, excepting those that need magical energies to maintain shape or form. In the case of willfully wielded magic it will counteract that in the conjurer which allows him cast the spell."

In that effect, I have heard tell that it emits quite a pleasurable odor that may also have an added affect of soothing difficult negotiations.


protected by Community Aug 13 '16 at 0:18

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