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How Anti-shoplifting Devices Work

        Science | Devices

Source Tagging

As its name implies, source tagging is the embedding of disposable RF security labels at either the point of manufacture or packaging. Source tagging has been highly successful in the packaged products industry, and retailers, such as discount giant Target, are starting to use it for merchandise such as earrings, apparel, shoes, batteries, CDs, computer software, sporting goods and electronics. (Retailers' interest in source tagging has increased as shoplifters have gotten around anti-shoplifting tags applied to the outside of packages by removing the product and leaving the empty box on the shelf!)

The newest source tags are paper-thin and easily integrated into automated production processes. These tags are applied in primary packaging (or within or on the product itself -- for example, incorporated into woven garment tags) and under labels on bottles. Checkpoint experts say their two-dimensional source tags can be invisibly embedded between layers of thin paper stock or cardboard on standard blister packages. These invisible tags, which are deactivated by the clerk with a verifier that needs no physical contact with the tag to work, are especially effective at addressing employee theft and represent a hot topic in retail security today.

Sensormatic Products says its tiny Ultra-Strip can be detected through foil, liquids or layers of packaging. (Some industry consultants question the future of source tagging in retail apparel in light of the large number of existing microwave EAS systems -- systems that some consider obsolete and that cannot be adapted to incorporate low-cost source tagging in the future. There are also questions about how best to incorporate source tagging without losing the tag's inherent value as a theft deterrent.)