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  #1  
Old 05 May 2009, 05:43 AM
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Cell Phone Cell phones set off store anti-theft alarms

Comment: Not exactly new, but irritates the living hell out of me. I work
security at a large retail electronics store, and every time someone sets
off the EAS at the front door, they claim it is their cell phone. I have
been working this job for 3 years, and I have never once seen a cell phone
set off the system. It has always turned out to be a leftover tag in a
wallet, purse or other item they purchased at a separate store (or they're
actually stealing). I am sick and tired of trying to explain this to
people, all of whom claim I am dead wrong until I take their cell phone
from them and wave it through by itself. No one understands the science
behind these devices, even though anyone who passed a first year physics
course should know how they work.

Cell phones do not set off store anti-theft EAS!
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  #2  
Old 05 May 2009, 01:34 PM
Sooeygun Sooeygun is offline
 
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I have set off those alarms before with no forgotten tags, no new purchases, no library books and certainly no stolen items and the security guy said it was my cell phone. So whether it is possible or not, security people out there are passing around the idea.
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  #3  
Old 05 May 2009, 07:38 PM
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I've set off an alarm walking into a store with nothing in my pockets but a wallet and car keys. One of the store employees dismissed the alarm and said it was probably my cell phone...but I don't carry one.
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  #4  
Old 05 May 2009, 07:53 PM
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Were it true, given the high numbers of people who carry cellphones, the alarms would be going off every ten seconds or less - unless there is some particular brand or model that's supposed to set off the alarm. Still very unlikely.
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  #5  
Old 05 May 2009, 08:31 PM
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My car key (one of those with the computer chip inside) sets off Target sensors. And only Target sensors.
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  #6  
Old 05 May 2009, 08:38 PM
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A pair of trainers (sneakers in the US?) I bought in Canada would set off the alarms in ASDA (part of the Walmart Empire) and only ASDA. It got so annoying I would avoid going there when I was wearing them and would take diversions to other supermakets rather than nip in on the way home from work.
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Old 05 May 2009, 09:23 PM
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As a former employee/slave of retail I saw this too. Our security team informed us how the anti theft tags work and those stickers have a bit of circuitry in them that gets affected by a device at the checkout. Some cell phones have the right kind of circuity to fool with the sensors since they have to be sensitive and strong enough to pick up the tags through things like bags or clothing.
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  #8  
Old 05 May 2009, 11:29 PM
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Cell Phone

I have personally witnessed certain cell phones set off the alarms in the business where I work...not the anti-theft alarms by the doors (we don't have those), but the actual alarm system that has no reason to ever go off, as well as triggering the sensor for the door in the back room that should also never go off unless the door is actually opened. This causes an angry call from security, who insist that someone "must" have opened the door when no one was within fifty feet of it, and the only thing that happened was someone answering their phone at a certain spot. This hasn't happened in awhile, but there was a time when it was quite common. Presumably the signals have changed as phones have proliferated because this was much more common when cell phones were less used.
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  #9  
Old 05 May 2009, 11:33 PM
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My hearing aids have set off the anti-theft alarm at some shops.

Dropbear
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  #10  
Old 05 May 2009, 11:50 PM
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It all depends on the system being used. When I worked in the mall, there were times where customers would set off the system any time they got near the door. Some said it happened at multiple stores and were willing to run everything they had on them through the scanner gates to figure out what was causing it. In some cases, yes, it was definitely their cell phone. It seemed to happen primarily with older phones and the longer I worked there, the fewer incidents seemed to occur.

We did manage to find alternate explanations for several of the alarm victims though. The nearby Hollister store was notorious for carrying clothes that arrived at the store with sewn-in RFID tags, but either did not have the proper deactivator or the employees just weren't doing it. They looked like normal brand tags, like you would find in the collar or side seam of a shirt, but were just a tad thicker than normal. Similar tags were located inside upscale purses and shoes. Once in a Forever 21, my sister kept setting off the alarm and I did the same thing with her (much to the amusement of the store employees) and located a tiny tag sewn into her coat. A lot of her clothes seemed to have that problem because they were bought at a salvage store and the chains that sold their clearance/overstock/whatever didn't always remove the security devices and in the case of RFID tags the store didn't have the means to deactivate them all.

My mother had personal experience with her phone setting off the alarms in certain stores. If she had it on while going through the door, the alarm would go off. If it was powered completely down, nothing happened. Once she upgraded phones, it was no longer an issue.
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  #11  
Old 06 May 2009, 01:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astra View Post
They looked like normal brand tags, like you would find in the collar or side seam of a shirt, but were just a tad thicker than normal.
They have those on many of the clothes at Old Navy, too. They have writing on them that says to cut them off before washing or wearing (and a dotted cutting line). I personally take them off by cutting the stitching with a seam ripper, it seems to me that thick remnant of the tag would be scratchy.
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  #12  
Old 06 May 2009, 02:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
They have those on many of the clothes at Old Navy, too. They have writing on them that says to cut them off before washing or wearing (and a dotted cutting line). I personally take them off by cutting the stitching with a seam ripper, it seems to me that thick remnant of the tag would be scratchy.
The Hollister ones at the time weren't marked with anything other than the name. The fabric was still flexible enough that it wasn't until I stuck it next to the scanner that I was sure it was a anti-theft tag and not just a fancy label.
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  #13  
Old 08 May 2009, 04:22 PM
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With my most recent cell phone, if it was near to dying, it would set off CVS anti-theft alarms- it seemed like it must have been a pretty common occurrence since when I walked in, they would say something like "yup, I'll see you on the way out, too, don't worry." When I got a new cell phone, it never happened again. I always figured it had something to do with the low battery. Or maybe correlation does not equal causation and I just didn't charge it often enough!
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  #14  
Old 08 May 2009, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mindiloohoo View Post
My car key (one of those with the computer chip inside) sets off Target sensors. And only Target sensors.
I worked at a drug store for awhile and the system we used was kind of old (assuming since I don't know much about them, but the owner was a cheapskate). We had a lot of people setting off the alarms as they came in because of the keyfobs that unlocked their cars (also hearing aids sometimes, but never cell phones).

I did stick a handful of the sensors into a coworkers purse once so she'd set off the alarms, hilarity ensued.
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  #15  
Old 09 May 2009, 11:43 AM
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Can't say about cell phones, but my PDA once did set off the store alarm.
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  #16  
Old 09 May 2009, 07:24 PM
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I've known less remarkable people who have hidden security tags within their cell phones (battery compartment, I think) so they'll set the door off coming in and then be waved away by the same greeter once they've gotten what they wanted. Even if it's a different greeter, all they have to do is let the greeter walk through with the cell phone.

hm. all that and the risk of it not working just for something that walmart sells.
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  #17  
Old 09 May 2009, 07:52 PM
Viliphied Viliphied is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Native Medley View Post
I've known less remarkable people who have hidden security tags within their cell phones (battery compartment, I think) so they'll set the door off coming in and then be waved away by the same greeter once they've gotten what they wanted. Even if it's a different greeter, all they have to do is let the greeter walk through with the cell phone.

hm. all that and the risk of it not working just for something that walmart sells.
Of course if the greeter was smart, they'd make them walk through without the cell phone instead.
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  #18  
Old 09 May 2009, 07:58 PM
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Slightly o/t but I once had a door entry card for work that would set off the store alarms. Made by a company called Schlarge (sp?) It was a known problem, and the company issued us with a another card (schlarge-guard) which when placed next to the door entry card would stop it setting off the alarm.

I often wondered if I could somehow have wrapped that flimsy schlarge-guard card around the security tag on an item in a store and stolen it. However I never had the urge to try it.

The only problem I had (except when I forgot my schlarge-guard and went shopping) was when I went to the local library and visited the reference section (the books you can read but not borrow.) What I didn't know, and maybe they didn't want it widely knwn) was all the reference books were RFID tagged. Hence I didn't bother with my trusty schlarge-guard.

As I left the reference section of the library, an alarm sounded, a sort of security gate (though not physically very impressive) closed in front of me preventing my escape, and the librarian rushed over to confront me.

"Have you got one of our books?"
"Err no."
"Not inside your coat?"
Eddy opens coat "No. Look I really haven't got one of your books."
"What about your briefcase. Show me!"
Eddy opens mostly open briefcase. Yes it was for show, it only ever held a pen, a calculator and a sandwich, and I'd eaten the sandwich for lunch. No book. Nope not a one.
"Hmm." Said the librarian, convinced she'd found a really clever and cunning book thief.

Then the penny dropped for me "Perhaps it's this" I said producing my schlarge card.

She was somewhat unconvinced, but after I'd waved it three times through the sensor area, with the same alarm/gate effect, and she had too, she was finally convinced that I wasn't smuggling books, and that little piece of blue plastic and electronic door opening wizardry was the culprit.
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  #19  
Old 09 May 2009, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viliphied View Post
Of course if the greeter was smart, they'd make them walk through without the cell phone instead.
Greeters can't "make" you do anything, though. The easiest way to beat an anti-theft alarm is to just not stop when it goes off. They can't do anything about it* except call the police, and the police can't do much (if anything) about it if you don't consent to a search and they don't have an eyewitness account of you actually stealing something.

*Unless they have actually seen you conceal something or walk out without paying, in which case the alarms are a moot point. Anti-theft alarms work by tricking people into thinking they have an obligation to allow the store to search them. It's like the police walking up to someone on the street and asking them to produce any drugs they have in their pocket.

Last edited by lord_feldon; 09 May 2009 at 08:26 PM.
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  #20  
Old 09 May 2009, 08:40 PM
Viliphied Viliphied is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lord_feldon View Post
Greeters can't "make" you do anything, though. The easiest way to beat an anti-theft alarm is to just not stop when it goes off. They can't do anything about it* except call the police, and the police can't do much (if anything) about it if you don't consent to a search and they don't have an eyewitness account of you actually stealing something.

*Unless they have actually seen you conceal something or walk out without paying, in which case the alarms are a moot point. Anti-theft alarms work by tricking people into thinking they have an obligation to allow the store to search them. It's like the police walking up to someone on the street and asking them to produce any drugs they have in their pocket.
Well, yeah there's that, but if the people are offering up their cell phones anyways, they should just take it and say "ok, go through again"
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