Booster Bags Solution

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jul 10, 2012

A cheap, household supply item is used to defeat advanced theft prevention systems every day. Retailers attribute millions of dollars in stolen goods to the use of 'booster bags', a simple exploit used to defeat retailer's EAS systems. In this note, we examine a new product designed to overcome the weaknesses of standard EAS and aid the effort to stamp out booster bag theft.

Problem Overview

Most EAS systems are designed to detect the presence of alarm tags on merchandise. When merchandise is purchased legitimately, these tags are either deactivated or removed so they do not 'alarm' the EAS system as the merchandise leaves the store. However, stolen merchandise that does not properly pass thru the checkout stand is detected by alarming EAS pedestals, immediately drawing attention to the activity.

Despite the 'high tech' nature of EAS systems, they can be defeated by a very 'low tech' exploit: Booster bags are simple to make, and very effective. By lining a shopping bag with multiple layers of foil, the 'false lining' can prevent EAS pedestals from sensing the presence of armed EAS tags, allowing for stolen merchandise to pass through undetected. The video below describes the problem and its impact on retailers:

To summarize the problem, booster bags create a simple 'faraday cage' that blocks even the most sensitive EAS tags, due to the low power or passive detection method they typically employ. To combat the problem, many retailers are being forced to find enhancements for their current EAS systems. In the section below, we examine one of those solutions and analyze its application.

Solution Overview

At the recent NRF-LP show, a company named Alert MetalGuard [link no longer available] was displaying their 'anti-booster bag' detection sensors. Interestingly, instead of handing out pencils, pens, and other trade-show trinkets [link no longer available], the company was handing out promotional booster bags and challenged attendees to 'try out the technology'. A very simple, yet very compelling demonstration showed how the company's sensor pedestals detected and alerted on the presence of a booster bag.

Application details for MetalGuard are listed below:

  • The 'MetalGuard' product is designed to detect the presence of non-ferrous, metallic objects.
  • MetalGuard is design as "Add-on" Pedestals, mounted adjacent to existing EAS Pedestals
  • Detection Ranges span from 4.5' to just under 9.5', covering most retail openings.
  • Alarm system 'stands alone' from existing EAS system, but can be configured to alert to companion pagers or alarm system/video surveillance system contacts.
  • System can be configured for use on revolving doors and rolling gates.
  • Pricing for the 4.5' span unit is $2500 USD, suitable for a 'single entry' doorway

Analysis

This system alarms on materials like aluminum, titanium, and other non-iron alloys. While those materials are commonly used in a number of different types of product, they typically are not used in such a significant quantity to approximate the density of a booster bag. The manufacturer claims MetalGuard sensors do not 'false' alarm on common aluminum items like shopping carts or baby strollers, because those items do not posses sufficient metallic density to be confused with a booster bag.

The system is an 'add-on', meaning it does not perform the function of the EAS system and is an additional system. MetalGuard only detects the presence of booster bags as an indication of potential criminal activity, it does not replace or overlap a retailer's EAS system. The manufacturer of MetalGuard has not expressed any plans to develop EAS at the current time.

While the system can be manually integrated into other alarm systems by way of relay contacts, remote notification of alerts take place through proprietary 'AlertQuickPager' devices that must be purchased and carried separately. Asking LP personnel or Store Managers to each carry another handheld device could be seen as a cumbersome and expensive measure.

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Breaking Into A Facility Using Canned Air Tested on Jan 28, 2020
Access control is supposed to make doors more secure, but a $5 can of...
Forced Door Alarms For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 17, 2020
One of the most important access control alarms is also often ignored....
Add Door Operators To Fight Coronavirus on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM recommends that integrators advocate and end-users consider adding door...
Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11 on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has...
Coronavirus Shuts Down ADT Door Knockers on Mar 26, 2020
Coronavirus has another victim - this time, alarm giant ADT has stopped all...
Hands-Free Bathroom Doors For Coronavirus Mitigation on Apr 10, 2020
Coronavirus has increased concerns about picking up germs, especially from...
Opgal ThermApp MD Thermal Screening System on Apr 21, 2020
Israeli thermal provider Opgal claims they were first on the market detecting...
Propped Doors Access Control Tutorial on Jan 07, 2020
Doors should keep 'bad guys' out, but a common access control problem is...
Hikvision Dual Lens Face Recognition Camera Tested on Nov 19, 2019
Hikvision's Dual Lens Facial Recognition camera, claims that it "adopts...
Multipoint Door Lock Tutorial on Jan 23, 2020
Despite widespread use, locked doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry,...
Amazon, Microsoft and IBM Abandoning Face Recognition Is An "Irresponsible PR Stunt" Says AnyVision on Jul 17, 2020
In the wake of national protests against US police abuses, big tech firms...
Budget Covert Cameras Tested on Nov 26, 2019
Covert cameras under $100 are widely available online but are they any...
Anixter Pitches Allegion Anti-Germ Coatings, But Allegion Says Ineffective Against Coronavirus on Apr 14, 2020
Anixter touts 'Solutions that Protect' amidst ongoing Coronavirus, but...
TVT / InVid Facial Recognition Tested on Mar 25, 2020
Facial recognition is frequently sold for thousands of dollars per channel...
Tailgating: Access Control Tutorial on Oct 31, 2019
Nearly all access control systems are vulnerable to an easy exploit called...

Recent Reports

Temperature Tablet Shootout - Dahua, Hikvision, ZKTeco, TVT + 5 More on Sep 30, 2020
Temperature tablets, aka terminal or stations, have emerged as a 'low-cost...
New Products Show Fall 2020 Tomorrow Bosch, FLIR, Hanwha, Tyco, Avigilon More! on Sep 30, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show concludes tomorrow with our special temperature...
ButterflyMX Raises $35 Million on Sep 30, 2020
Startup ButterflyMX has raised $35 million for its smartphone based intercom...
Worst Access Control Manufacturers 2020 on Sep 30, 2020
200+ Integrators told IPVM "In the past year, what access control...
Access Control Levels and Schedules Tutorial on Sep 29, 2020
Configuring access levels and setting up schedules is central to maintaining...
Avigilon / Motorola VS Virtual ISC West on Sep 29, 2020
ISC West has historically been so dominant that no player would think of...
Dartmouth College Deploys K3 Temperature Screening on Sep 29, 2020
While Dartmouth College has a $6+ billion endowment, the College has bought...
Hanwha AI Object Detection Tested on Sep 28, 2020
Hanwha has added detection and classification of people, cars, clothing...
Favorite Access Control Manufacturers 2020 on Sep 28, 2020
200+ Integrators told IPVM "What is your favorite access control management...
OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations are at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...