If you run your own retail operation, then you'll know that the unfortunate impact that shoplifting has on your business losing money, can be huge. Thecost of retail crime during 2015 reached an all-time high, with an estimated £613m worth of goods stolen. Many stores can gain a reputation as ' easy to steal from' which aside from attracting more potential theft from your store, will also lose you many genuine customers too. To combat this, many retail operations have turned to installing retail security systems in their stores – from CCTV cameras to electronic tagging, retailers are now able to watch and track what is going on in their stores at any time they wish.

Electrical Article Surveillance (EAS) is a common way of protecting products that are likely to be stolen, by placing an electronic tag upon them. Simple and effective – many retail operations have turned to EAS and as a result, shoplifting has been dramatically reduced, protecting the profits of the store.

Here we'll look at the history of EAS and see how the practice of installing tags upon products started;

The dawn of Electrical Article Surveillance.

During his childhood years, Arthur Minsay used to shoplift. Stealing objects such as marbles, erasers, pencils and tennis balls – anything that he could fit into his pockets, really! No doubt his childhood dalliance with stealing, played into his experiences which alerted the adult Minsay, now qualified as an electrical engineer, to work on a sufficient security system for protecting stores from shoplifting. At this point, there had been previous attempts at designing a security tag – most notably one loaded with small amounts of radioactive material that would be detected by a Geiger counter when passed through a store's exit. For obvious reasons, this never took off and in fact was outlawed in America. In 1966, Minsay's simple approach, using his electrical knowledge, paid off – a simple plastic tag, embedded with a small antenna that responded to radio frequencies. Alongside the tag, he also invented a 'gate' that was tuned to the radio frequency of the tag and would set off on alarm if the tagged item would pass near it. It would prove to be an effective weapon against shoplifting.

The rise and fall of high-frequency electronic tagging.

Not long later, competition started for Minsay, primarily due to a microwave system invented by Sensormatic Electronics that was mainly sold to department and clothing stores. Although the tags generally worked well, they did have limitations. For example, older versions of the device could be deactivated by simply placing tagged products in foil-lined bags that would block the signal from the gates. Similarly, they wouldn't be as effective, if at all, when placed on items that were made from metal or anything that was foil-wrapped. Something else was badly needed to catch shoplifters who had become wise to the limitations of high-frequency electrical article surveillance.

A new way of tagging.

In the mid-1980's a new technology was developed that would change the security tagging industry, one which would overcome the limitations of tags that relied on high radio frequencies. Operating with low frequency radio waves, acousto-magnetic (AM) tags are unable to be blocked by metal foil wrappings. Although initially, these new tags were more-expensive than high-frequency tags, they were much more effective and dramatically reduced a store's shoplifting rate. Aside from not being able to be deactivated by a shoplifter, the low-frequency was able to cover a much-wider area than its predecessor.

As time has progressed, so has the ability of the AM tag – today they are relatively-inexpensive and are used in the vast majority of stores. Today, they are disposal and used as 'source tagging', which means that they are able to be placed inside products, which makes them unlikely to be tampered with – and also able to be deactivated at the point of purchase, cutting down on the time in which staff spend in removing tags.

Keep your stock safe –with Maxtag.

Here at Maxtag, we have a wide range of electrical article surveillance systems that are designed to prevent your products from being shoplifted. Very competent and cost-effective, there has never been a better time to invest in tagging for your products. With a number of different security tags – including AM and even ink tags – we will have everything that you may require. For more information on our retail security systems, please don't hesitate to call us on 0800 044 3160 or e-mail us at enquiries@maxtag.com

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MAXTAG (UK) Limited

8 Suttons Business Park Reading Berkshire RG6 1AZ United Kingdom

0800 044 3160