“EAS tags are deactivated using deactivation pads/ wands, and tag detachers such as standard magnetic detachers, Superlock detachers, Alpha S3 Handkeys, Sensormatic hooks, etc. are used to remove EAS tags.”
Electronic Article Surveillance or EAS has been the go-to security measure used by retailers (used by 73% of retailers globally) in order to prevent shoplifting. Shoplifting refers to people walking into a departmental or big retail store and walking about with items, and merchandise without paying for them. It means theft. According to a report by Forbes, shoplifting has become a 100 billion USD problem in the USA and theft in stores increased 91% between 2019 and 2022.
There are various ways technology can be helpful in curbing store theft and the use of EAS tags, CCTV, RFID tags, etc., are just a few of them. Many retail stores in the USA and other parts of the world even hire bodyguards to maintain order and deter shoplifters.
Electronic Article Surveillance has been in use for years now and it is quite successful in limiting retail store thefts. The EAS technology uses radio frequency signals and Electromagnetic fields to transmit signals and raise alarms whenever an item is carried near EAS gates at entry or exit points.
EAS tags that are used in retail stores are mostly EM tags (Electromagnetic tags), AM tags (Acousto-magnetic tags), and RF (Radio-Frequency) tags. These are available in hard tag and label categories.
While attaching an EAS tag is quite easy, detaching is not so. But that is the point of security tags, right? Not everyone should be able to remove these tags or deactivate them.
Let’s see the various EAS tag deactivation/removal methods that are used in retail stores and other businesses.
EAS Tag Removal Techniques in Retail Stores
Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tags play a crucial role in preventing theft and reducing inventory shrinkage. However, there are times when authorized personnel need to remove or deactivate these tags to ensure a seamless shopping experience for customers. Some of the popular EAS tag detachers are as follows:
Standard Magnetic EAS tag Detacher
The most commonly used method for removing EAS tags is by utilizing a standard magnetic detacher. It is a small device that has a built-in magnet that disarms the magnetic strip inside the EAS tag. One can simply place the tag on the detacher and apply gentle pressure and the magnetic lock is released, allowing the tag to be easily removed. These magnetic detachers cost around $50 and more and last for years.
2. Superlock Detacher
Some high-security EAS tags require a specialized tool known as a Superlock detacher. Superlock detacher features a unique mechanism that securely holds the EAS tag in place, preventing unauthorized removal. To remove EAS tags, one needs to insert the Superlock detacher into the designated slot and carefully rotate it and the tag is released, allowing for its removal. These tags cost around $75 and more and can be purchased from EnCstore.com, an EAS security providing e-commerce front.
3. Alpha S3 Handkey
The Alpha S3 Handkey is a versatile tool used to deactivate and remove Alpha EAS tags. It employs a combination of magnetic and radio frequency (RF) technology to unlock the tag. In order to remove compatible EAS tags, one can place the handkey close to the tag and follow the manufacturer's instructions. The tag's locking mechanism is deactivated, enabling its safe removal.
4. Sensormatic Hook
When it comes to removing Sensormatic EAS tags, the Sensormatic hook is an indispensable tool. This device features a curved hook at one end, designed to catch the tag's locking mechanism.
For deactivating, by skillfully maneuvering the hook around the tag, authorized personnel can release the locking mechanism and remove the tag without damaging the merchandise. The Sensormatic Hook can be purchased by spending around $15-$50.
5. EAS Tag Deactivators
In cases where the EAS tag doesn't need to be physically removed, but only deactivated, EAS tag deactivators come into play. In some cases, EAS labels are sewn into the item and only deactivation is required.
These devices use radio frequency identification (RFID) or electromagnetic fields to neutralize the tag's signal. When one passes the merchandise over the deactivator pad, the tag's circuitry is disabled, rendering it ineffective. These EAS tag deactivator pads are costlier and cost around $100 or more in most cases.
How do shoplifters bypass EAS security tags?
While EAS tags deter people from shoplifting, they are proven to be ineffective in catching experienced shoplifters. Unlike RFID tags/labels, EAS does not allow tracking of items. First timers are easily caught with alarms going off at the gate but that is not the case with experienced shoplifters.
Many shoplifters come with bags lined with aluminum foils which causes interference and renders the tag useless. Others use screwdrivers to pry open the Sensormatic EAS tags in a few seconds. Of course, they do it in obscure corners of the store but it happens.
Faraday cages, objects that block the signals coming from EAS tags, are also used to make these tags useless and shoplift merchandise.
The UK has laws regarding such activities and going into a shopping store with such devices such as detachers, magnets, lined bags, etc. is a felony punishable by law.
Removing or deactivating EAS tags in retail stores requires specialized knowledge and tools. From standard magnetic detachers to Superlock detachers, Alpha S3 Handkeys, Sensormatic hooks, and EAS tag deactivators, each method serves a specific purpose. Understanding the various techniques of EAS tag removal is the key and only then retail store personnel can ensure a smooth and efficient shopping experience for their customers while maintaining effective security measures.
- Last updated on Oct 10, 2023