How Do EAS Labels Work?

Electronic article surveillance, or EAS, is a type of technology that prevents shoplifting. EAS is most often used in anti-theft systems in retail stores but can also be found in libraries and office buildings. EAS usually involves three components:

  • At least one electronic antenna
  • A deactivator or detacher
  • An electronic tag

The antenna is typically found in EAS system pedestals installed at a store’s entrances. Though tags used to only be available in clunky form factors with limited applications, today you can use EAS labels that come in a range of shapes and sizes. Suited to high-volume, low-value merchandise like books, CDs, hardware, non-perishable groceries, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, EAS labels are available in both acousto-magnetic (AM) and radio-frequency (RF) systems.

How EAS Labels Work

EAS labels work the same way EAS tags do: they stay in constant communication with a store’s EAS system and trigger an alarm to sound if they pass the EAS pedestals without being properly deactivated. Unlike EAS tags, EAS labels are essentially flat stickers and can be easily and quickly adhered to products.

The adhesive side of an EAS label has a printed circuit that contains all the technology needed to make it work with an EAS system. The only requirements are that the printed circuit must remain undamaged, and the EAS label must be placed on a flat surface and not folded or bent.

It is recommended that you avoid sticking the EAS label on or near metallic items, as to not disturb the printed circuit. Just like EAS tags, you only need one EAS label per item.

Protect Your Merchandise with CONTROLTEK EAS Labels

Our high-performance EAS labels can help you protect a variety of products in flexible and unobtrusive ways. We offer EAS labels in different shapes and sizes with custom color and printing options, as well as specialty materials and glues for food packaging, health and beauty, apparel, electronics and other versatile uses.

Why Software Updates are Vital

Though it can be annoying to have to restart your device to install a system update, it’s much better than the alternative: leaving your computer or mobile device vulnerable to attack. In fact, the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack targeted computers that had not been updated to the latest version of Windows. Regularly updating your software is the easiest way to make sure you are protected from known software vulnerabilities.

How‌ ‌Do‌ ‌EAS‌ ‌Tags‌ ‌Work?‌

Electronic article surveillance, or EAS, is a type of technology that prevents shoplifting. EAS is most often used in anti-theft systems in retail stores but can also be found in libraries and office buildings. EAS usually involves three components:

  • At least one electronic antenna
  • A deactivator or detacher
  • An electronic tag

The antenna is typically found in EAS system pedestals installed at a store’s entrances. Today, EAS tags are available in many shapes, sizes and application options so you can protect all kinds of merchandise, from clothing, accessories, liquor and even eyewear. EAS tags are available in both acousto-magnetic (AM) and radio-frequency (RF) systems.

How EAS Tags Work

EAS tags come in a variety of attachment options, with a pin tag being the most common for soft products like apparel. Once an EAS tag is attached to an item and activated, the transmitter inside the tag is in constant communication with the EAS system installed in the store. If an EAS tag has not been properly deactivated by a store associate, it will trigger an alarm when passing through the EAS pedestals.

Many EAS tags also have visual deterrence features, such as exploding ink to damage a garment, or benefit denial features, like a cap that prevents people from opening a bottle of liquor in store.

Protect Your Merchandise with CONTROLTEK EAS Tags

Our high-performance EAS tags can help you protect a variety of products in flexible and unobtrusive ways. Our tags are compatible with both RF and AM systems and offer multiple alarm options to meet your retail asset protection needs.

How to Avoid Fake Retail Websites

You can verify the validity of an online retailer with a quick Google search, to see if there are any scams associated with the website. You can also plug the URL into Whois, which provides information about the site owner and how long the domain has existed. If the domain hasn’t been around for very long, this is typically a sign the website is fake.

Holiday tips for LP professionals.

Holiday Tips for LP Pros

The holidays can be stressful in retail, to state the obvious. With crowded stores, frazzled employees, and grouchy customers, there may be days when you want to go hide. They can also be a lot of fun as we try to close out our year with great results, using our groups’ collective energy to power through to the end.

During my career in retail, I’ve experienced a mix of both, and I’ve come to realize there are things we can do to limit the stress and experience more of the adrenaline-fueled fun. Here are a few ways to help get yourself through the next few weeks in one piece.

Don’t get pregnant right before the holidays. True story. Working seven days in a row, 13 hours a day, and trying not to throw up throughout most of it was not fun. I don’t recommend it. I have vivid memories of driving to Iowa in the snow and stopping at Culver’s for a chocolate shake multiple times without a clue as to why. Oh, and pulling off the side of the road to deal with “morning sickness”—which was more like “all-day sickness” in my case—made my drives more interesting. Even more interesting was timing interviews around those Culver’s shakes. If you can plan better than this, I recommend it.

Don’t pick a Prius as your company car if you plan on surviving the holidays in the Midwest. Sorry if I offend any die-hard Toyota drivers with this one, but that car was really a mistake for me. What started as a plan to be eco-friendly and save on gas ended with many near-death experiences and ridiculous three-hour drives home in the snow. I believe I set a company record for accidents in that bright blue Prius. Never again!

Stay organized. I was on the road so much and doing so many cases every day that I had yellow notepads and garbage everywhere. Things became complicated and added to my stress when it came time to write up my case reports. It’s amazing how quickly a company car can get messy—I’m looking at you, Ford Focus! That thing became a rolling garbage can. Try to do your case reports as soon as you can because it’s way too easy to forget things when cases are coming at you full throttle.

Find a fun coworker. One of my operations partners was a complete Christmas nut. As annoying as it seemed at first, when he started wearing Christmas ties every day and put reindeer antlers on his car, you couldn’t help but appreciate his enthusiasm and pure love of the season. He helped make things bearable. Everyone got gifts, holiday parties were a must, and, in general, he just made the holiday season more fun.

Play games. A little healthy, holiday-themed competition never hurt anyone. Try to get your coworkers involved in a game that inspires people to perform. It could be Investigation Bingo with a holiday themed punch card, based on the type of case, dollar amount of admission, or some other metric. Or if you work in the home office, it might be Holiday Karaoke at lunch, White Elephant to see who gets the worst gift, or three-legged races in the hall to compete against human resources. Get creative! This will help you focus on something other than all the interviews you have stacked up for the week.

Wear the right shoes. You will be on your feet all day. You will be trudging through slush, road salt, and worse. Pick shoes that can handle all of that and maybe even bring a pair to change into in case something happens. This is not the time to try out those cute boots with the pointed toe and high heel.

Sleep whenever you can. Alarm calls at 3 a.m., delayed flights, and long days can all lead to a disrupted sleep schedule. Let your family know that you will not be your usual self during these weeks, and could they please honor the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door? Mommy will return to her normal self after inventory.

If you can enlist your spouse to help with the holiday shopping, you’ve won half the battle. Thank God for online shopping now, but early in my career my husband was on point for our kids’ Christmas lists. That way I could sleep instead of going back out to shop, which was the last possible thing I wanted at that point. Plus, I’m confident no one wanted to see a pregnant, sleepwalking zombie throwing random toys into a cart.

I hope you found this list helpful, or at least it brought back some good memories for you. Good luck during the holidays and may all your LP teams be merry and bright!

Detect cash bag tampering with CONTROLTEK TripLOK bags.

What Types of Tampering Cash Bags Detect & How Tampering is Detected

Tamper-evident cash bags are specifically designed to protect the integrity of the bag’s contents and alert you if someone has attempted to take anything from the bag. Unlike traditional zipper money bags, locking security bags or canvas bank bags, today’s tamper-evident bags have many security features to indicate if a bag has been opened or compromised in any way, either by a thief of opportunity or a professional.

freezing detection on plastic cash bag

Freezing Attempt Detection

Experienced thieves know that drastic changes in temperature can break a basic tamper-evident seal on a plastic cash bag without damaging the bag. They typically use a can of compressed air to apply freezing cold air directly to the seal. However, modern tamper-evident cash bags are designed with this weakness in mind. In these tamper-evident bags, the freezing temperature of the compressed air activates security ink that reveals a high-visibility message to signal a tampering attempt.

heating detection on plastic cash bagHeating Attempt Detection

Similar technology can also detect if a thief tampers with the plastic cash bag using heat. Along with freezing detection, today’s tamper-evident bags often feature security ink that will activate when it detects heat being applied to the bag, revealing a red ink line or a high-visibility message to indicate that heat was used to open the bag.

water and saliva detection on plastic cash bagWater and Saliva Detection

Using water or even saliva is another common method for thieves to try to defeat a tamper-evident seal. Thieves who have internal access to the cash security bags, such as employees at a bank or cash-in-transit company, will often use their own saliva to weaken the seal of a plastic cash bag, preventing it from closing properly. A tamper-evident cash bag often has a security feature that uses water- and saliva-soluble inks to detect the use of fluids to tamper with the cash bag’s seal. The bag’s seal features a tamper-evident message printed with the special ink, and fluid will smear the ink.

security border and microprinting on plastic cash bagSecurity Border and Microprinting

A common security feature in tamper-evident cash bags is the use of microprinting along a security border. This feature uses a printed design along the borders of a bag, which can be cut open with a razorblade and resealed. With the microprinting security feature, you can easily tell if a bag was cut open and sealed back up because it is impossible to line up the tiny pattern of a microprinted security border after cutting it apart.

small openings prevention on plastic cash bagSmall Openings Prevention

Plastic cash bags are typically sealed with a small flap with an adhesive that sticks to the bag to keep it closed. However, employees who want to save time and space for their organization will often fold the adhesive flap further down on a cash bag, unintentionally leaving an opening at the top of a cash bag, which can allow a thief to reach into the opening and take cash from the bag. A triple-seal closure — as seen in our TripLOK bag, the most widely used tamper-evident cash bag in the industry — makes it virtually impossible to leave a small opening in the bag that can be later exploited.

Only Use Trusted Payment Methods Online

Phishing scams will often use bizarre payment methods, such as money orders, wire transfers or pre-loaded gift cards. These methods make it harder to trace the recipient and nearly impossible to get your money back. Make sure you’re using encrypted websites when inputting any payment information. Digital wallet options like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay also offer secure transactions via tokenization.

Security camera operating with crowded people in background

Your #1 Tool for Deterring Thieves: Why Physical Security Hygiene Matters

This article originally appeared in Loss Prevention Magazine.

In trying to deter thieves, it helps to put yourself in their shoes and see the store environment as they do. Are burned-out lights in the parking lot? Are the cameras hanging by a wire or facing the ground? If so, it’s like hanging up a welcome sign for thieves.

By contrast, imagine walking into an environment that’s clean and well lit, with signs that illuminate as you approach and cameras that pan, tilt, and zoom in on your face. Would you feel inclined to attempt a theft in those conditions? Few people would. By making sure all your physical security components are up to date and kept in good working order, you can achieve good physical security hygiene.

“Physical security hygiene” is a term I created to refer to the best demonstrated practices and other activities that security professionals can undertake to improve and/or maintain their physical security standards. In my previous role in loss prevention, we caught a shoplifter who actually gave us some really helpful advice about our security issues.

He told us that he chose a specific fitting room to defeat tags because in his visits to our store, he saw there was dried ink on the fitting room walls from other previously defeated tags. Because we had not been taking the right steps to maintain our fitting rooms, we created a lower perceived risk of being caught for shoplifters, which led this man to take advantage of our poor physical security hygiene.

In a previous article, I discussed the illusion of security theater, which offers security measures to make people feel more confident about their security while doing little or nothing to actually achieve true security. Security theater is meant to deter threats without offering actual additional safety. Physical security hygiene is similar in that the goal is to deter potential thieves by showing them you are paying attention to what they are doing. The major difference is that physical security hygiene takes this one step further by emphasizing the importance of security maintenance and smart investing.

Maintaining Your Physical Security

We are all familiar with the traditional examples of physical security: metal fences, folding security gates for your entrances, motion-activated lights, security cameras, signs, locks, and security guards. These are all common, accessible, and effective ways of protecting your store from potential thieves. But the issue with physical security is not whether it works but rather that it requires regular upkeep to continue being effective.

As I mentioned earlier, the lower perceived risk for thieves is the greatest danger that poor physical security hygiene creates. If someone sees a barbed wire fence with holes in it, they might think that either no one cares about maintaining this fence or even that no one is around to see that the fence has been damaged. If someone is walking through a parking lot or past a store entrance and sees that the lights are flickering or completely burned out, they could come to the conclusion that no one is interested in making sure that the area is well lit in order to see who is coming and going. If your store has security monitors connected to your security cameras, but these monitors are turned off or look like they are not working, then they might imagine that the cameras do not work or that they are just for show.

All these instances of poor physical security hygiene, whether they exist independently or in combination with one another, create a lower perceived risk for thieves being caught. And when thieves think they won’t be caught, they’re more likely to target you.

Good physical security hygiene depends on the regular upkeep of your physical security measures. This is the most effective way for you to deter opportunistic thieves, who are usually cautious and apprehensive. These thieves shoplift when they see little to no risk, so if they see an alert security guard or a motion-activated security camera or light, they are a lot less likely to attempt to steal something.

Making Smart Investments

With the latest and greatest technological innovations, it is now possible for you to install almost any kind of physical security you can imagine. If you want a motion-activated security camera that also highlights someone’s face in a connected security monitor and plays a warning over a nearby speaker, you can have it.

But with so many options available for your loss prevention team, it can be easy to get caught up in buying the coolest, newest gadgets without thinking about how these solutions are supposed to help you. Because when that motion-activated security camera needs system maintenance because the motion sensor has stopped working, that costs money. And if you have dozens of these security cameras, monitors, and speakers in your stores, those costs will add up.

If you invest in physical security but you do not have a good practice of physical security hygiene, you won’t ever get the ROI you expect. It’s like getting a home security system and never turning it on. That is why it is essential that you consider the cost of maintaining your physical security measures when planning your loss prevention strategy. A retailer with good exterior lighting, a few security cameras, and regular maintenance presents a much stronger image of good physical security hygiene than a retailer who has an artificial intelligence-enabled security system that clearly hasn’t been updated in a while because they just do not have the budget for it.

If you do not take care of the physical security methods you put in place, they are simply not going to work. Physical security hygiene is about choosing the security solutions that work best for you, not ones that will end up working against you if you can’t maintain them.

Three Simple Steps for Good Physical Security Hygiene

So how do you make sure that your physical security is doing the job you need it to do? Here are a few best practices for physical security hygiene.

Choose physical security solutions that work for you. Like many loss prevention solutions, physical security can be a big investment. That’s why you should create a strategy that solves your unique problems instead of buying the new big thing in LP. If sturdy gates and reliable lights have worked for you in the past, then it’s better for you to continue investing in them, along with one or two newer solutions, than to eliminate these security measures entirely so that you can try a whole new security system.

Create a physical security budget that includes maintenance costs. As I mentioned earlier, you also need to consider the cost of upkeep for your security, whether it’s replacing light bulbs, updating signage, or repairing damaged locks or gates. When it’s time for you to review your annual budget, make sure you account for the costs of updating, repairing, or replacing your existing security measures, so you continue to show potential thieves that they will be caught if they attempt to shoplift.

Work with your team to enforce good physical security hygiene. Your physical security isn’t just about having the right tools; it’s also about making sure your team of store associates and LP professionals works together to keep things running smoothly and in apparent good working order. What do you think when you walk into a store and see a security guard on his cell phone? Physical security hygiene has as much to do with appearance as functionality. This could include training your guards to remain alert while on shift, implementing security tactics like confronting loiterers and creating a schedule for your team to periodically check on the status of your security measures and report if anything is broken or needs maintenance.

Though retail loss prevention has changed a lot in recent years, it is important to remember the basics of physical security, and that starts with maintaining good physical security hygiene. If you work with your LP professionals to create a smart physical security strategy, you can stretch your LP budget even further than you might originally think.


Tom’s column is featured in every issue of Loss Prevention Magazine. To subscribe to the printed version of the magazine and enjoy other great content, visit losspreventionmedia.com.

Is Your Retail Store Security Up to Date?

Preventing shoplifting is one of the most straightforward ways retailers can reduce shrink in their inventory. Sending a strong message of deterrence to thieves relies on having reliable retail store security to show that you are taking loss prevention seriously. These retail security measures can vary from tried-and-true physical security techniques to implementing cybersecurity protection in your store.

How to Maintain Your Retail Store Security

Use retail security solutions that work for you. If you are a smaller retailer, it is probably not necessary to buy the latest security system equipped with artificial intelligence. Instead, invest your money in more affordable technology, such as an EAS system at entry and exit points, security cameras throughout your store and scanners and barcode labels to manage your inventory.

Examine your store to figure out which retail security measures you need. Perform regular checks on each part of your store to identify areas prone to security breaches, such as low-visibility corners and shelves with high-value items. You should also take note of high-risk items in your inventory, such as cosmetics, luxury goods and pharmaceuticals. After examining your store layout and your inventory, you can then decide if you need to implement new security measures, such as adding security cameras to areas of low visibility, or simply adjust your strategy.

Be aware of digital threats to retailers. Today’s evolving technology makes it easier for thieves and other malicious actors to take advantage of retailers who are not aware of these threats. These cyberattacks include website hacking, customer data breaches and card skimming. The best way to protect yourself and your customers from digital threats is to ensure that your software is up to date and that you are using appropriate security measure to protect customer data. To protect customers’ credit card information, you should make sure your payment processing system is PC compliant and that you can accept EMV or chip payments. 

Train your employees to be aware of your retail security measures. Your retail security solutions only work as well as the store associates who use them. As part of a new employee’s training process, include an overview of your store’s retail security and demonstrate these security measures to make sure they understand. This can include showing them how to properly deactivate and detach security tags or what to do if your retail security system has triggered an alarm. If you have a specific procedure for something, it can be helpful to post guidelines in the stockroom, break room or behind the counter for your employees.

Perform regular loss prevention audits. Set up an LP checklist for your store and have your LP team or a third-party professional go through your store to check if your retail security measures are working correctly. This list will vary for every retailer, but some common points include:

  • Is the retail security system functioning correctly?
  • Are the POS keys kept in a secure location?
  • Are you restricting store access to store personnel during business hours only?
  • Are you limiting high-risk transactions and POS tasks to authorized personnel only?
  • Have all items been tagged with a security tag and/or barcode?
  • Does everyone on your team understand store policies about issuing refunds, voiding transactions, etc.?

Update Your Retail Store Security with CONTROLTEK

If you want to take the next step in improving your retail store security, CONTROLTEK has a wide range of cost-effective retail security solutions to meet your needs. From visual deterrence security tags to LP system installation and deployment, we will work with you to update your retail security and get the ROI you expect. Contact us today to connect with our team of experts and start fighting shrink today.

How to Prevent Shoplifting

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), external shoplifting accounts for 36.5 percent of retail inventory shrinkage. Retailers should prioritize protecting their merchandise because it is their key investment and source of revenue. In order to do that, you need to have the right tools and training to prevent your store from being targeted by shoplifters.

Reevaluate your shoplifting prevention strategy.

If you already have a shoplifting prevention plan in place but still struggle with shoplifting incidents, then you need to take another look at your strategy and make regular updates to account for new developments in loss prevention. Your shoplifting prevention strategy should include how to deter thieves as well as what you will do if you catch a shoplifter in your store. Some questions to ask yourself to figure out how you will handle a shoplifter are:

  • Will we try to deal with the situation with our in-house loss prevention team?
  • Will we involve the police?
  • Do we have a price threshold to determine how we should act next? Example: if we catch a shoplifter stealing more than $100 worth of merchandise, we will call the police.

Train your store associates to identify familiar shoplifting methods.

Although profiling is strongly discouraged in loss prevention, it is still valuable to learn how to spot common shoplifting techniques. For example, shoplifters rarely work alone. They typically work together and have one or more accomplices who distract your employees while another steals your merchandise. Other shoplifting methods include switching price tags, making fraudulent returns or removing security tags in the fitting room. Shoplifters will also often use bulky items such as strollers, umbrellas, backpacks and large handbags to hide stolen goods.

Identify suspicious behavior.

Train your staff to keep an eye on customers exhibiting the following behavior:

  • Watching the store associates
  • Picking up random items
  • Taking several items into the fitting room but coming out with fewer items

Add a retail security system.

Though security system services do have costs, they will also help you reduce theft, so you will see a solid ROI on your security system soon. Electronic article surveillance, more commonly known as EAS, is the most common retail security tagging system. An EAS system will not only trigger an alarm in your store if a shoplifter attempts to steal something but also deter thieves from trying to steal your merchandise at all.

Keep an eye on your fitting rooms.

Though it is tempting to leave your fitting rooms unattended during quiet periods, this leaves an opportunity for shoplifters to sneak in, defeat any security tags and steal your merchandise while you aren’t looking. When there are little to no customers trying on clothes, encourage your store associates to monitor the fitting room area so no one can enter without having their number of items checked.

Invest in other anti-shoplifting devices.

In addition to an EAS system, you can install other anti-shoplifting devices to help protect your store from thieves. There are many options available for protecting your fitting rooms, which is a shoplifter’s favorite area in a store to defeat tags and steal merchandise. For example, CONTROLTEK’s ApparelGuard detects magnet detachers and catches shoplifters in the act, while the HyperGuard can be installed at your store’s entrance to detect booster bags and stop shoplifters before they can steal anything.

Secure your high-risk merchandise.

Small, high-value items are the most likely to be stolen by shoplifters. Merchandise such as small electronics, accessories, leather goods and cosmetics are easy for shoplifters to sneak into a pocket or purse, but the theft of these items will add up for you. You can secure these items with specially designed security tags, such as CONTROLTEK’s DualTech PadLock as a shoe security tag or the FlatGuard to protect wallets and other small leather goods.

Protect Your Merchandise from Shoplifters with CONTROLTEK

Our arsenal of retail security solutions offers many possibilities for retailers to protect their merchandise, from traditional and cost-effective EAS tags to more advanced RFID tags and systems to manage your inventory while deterring thieves. Contact us today to find out which retail security system will work for you and your store.