In current news, civilization have to be stealing stuff from shops by stuffing castle in bags lined v something that you pave fish up with prior to roasting them: aluminium foil.

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Here’s your modus operandi: they line their bags with aluminium foil, ingredient it through merchandise and also walk out of the store without tripping the alarm. This bags are called ‘booster bags‘, v ‘boost’ being a slang term because that ‘steal’.

“Previously, shoplifters made the bag on your own. But now the bags room made in Vietnam and also you can’t tell that it has actually been lined through aluminium foil.

We have the right to only detect these shoplifters v their behaviour. The is what ours plainclothes store detectives are on the lookout for.” – Kapt (rtd) Adnan Adil Ariffin, security Manager at Sunway Pyramid because that The Star.

The Sunway Malls chief operating officer, Kevin Tan revealed the they currently had three such cases this year, and also during height tourist periods, global shoplifting syndicates come indigenous as much as southern Africa and targets number of malls in ~ once. And they’re not just using bags, either.

“Some line their jackets and jeans pockets through aluminium foil for this reason they can shoplift undetected. So we space even much more vigilant,” – Kevin Tan, chief operation officer, Sunway Malls because that The Star.

That the sophisticated, high tech theft prevention systems to work by deluxe shops can be beat by a humble strip of aluminium foil may seem unbelievable at first, however we live in an era where we pay road tolls by putting a card on our windshields. Anything have to be believable through now.

But prior to we gain to how something supplied to pave ikan bakar can fool the alert system, it would be far better to an initial understand how these anti-theft systems work.

How perform anti-theft systems work?

When shopping for new pants, you can have noticed something that looked favor this attached to the garment you’re buying:

They likewise come in numerous shapes and also colors. Source

That’s an anti-theft tag, and they occupational in tandem v a kind of sensor gate. In fact, you’ve more than likely come throughout a many shops v those gates out front:


What a weird type of decoration. Source

Those room actually antennas, and together with the anti-theft sign they kind an Electronic article Surveillance (EAS) system. Broadly, there are three species of EAS that a shop may select to use, and they are

Electro-Magnetic solution (EMS)Acousto-Magnetic systems (AMS)Radio Frequency equipment (RFS), which also includes the Radio Frequency Identification maker (RFID)

While the names of the systems may differ, basically they all work in the exact same way. In very basic language, the antennas in ~ the front of the shop continuously emit a radio signal in one area approximately them once they’re active. The emitted radio signal bounce around people and stuff prior to they are got by another antenna, type of like a bat ‘seeing’ things by shrieking and also listening for the reflected sound.

When this radio signals bounce off the anti-theft tags native earlier, which consists of either metal strips (EMS and AMS) or a tiny circuit plank (RF and RFID), the reflected signal will change and become different. This strange reflection will then be perceived by the antennas, which will activate an alarm. To prevent that from happening after ~ purchase, these tags are either eliminated or disabled in ~ the cashier, where, depending on the device type, a device will one of two people saturate the tags through magnetism, or burn the end the RF circuit.

These systems space not only supplied in retail but also in various other areas, such as libraries and also workshops, to save track that books and also tools. That course, there space differences depending on the device used, and also the complete explanation is a lot more technical, however this have to be sufficient to get us come the next point, i beg your pardon is…

The radio signals deserve to be clogged by something favor aluminum foil.


How a Faraday cage works. The thin black color arrows are existing flow. Source

By currently you could have believed that hey, if the tags will certainly activate the system if it detects the signals from the antennas, can’t I just cover the tags through my hand or something? If the signal didn’t reach the tags, there would certainly be no alarm, won’t there?

Although it might sound too straightforward to it is in true, yes, you deserve to stop the alarm from going turn off by covering the tags through a conductive material. The aluminum foil bag instance in the start works due to the fact that of a ide called ‘electromagnetic shielding‘. In layman terms, if you can gain something the conducts electricity (like aluminum foil) and also wrap it roughly something, you’re shielding that point from electromagnetic radiation, which contains radio waves and also microwaves.

The ax ‘electromagnetic shields’ are periodically used interchangeably with Faraday cages or Faraday shields, and perhaps the most relatable example can be discovered inside the door the microwave ovens.


The black film through holes in it prevents the microwaves from acquiring out and also affecting your brain. Source

While it might sound prefer a current development, this whole booster bag service isn’t a brand-new thing. Human being (shoplifters are world too) have actually thought of impede the radio signals from the EAS solution by utilizing this ide as far earlier as 1995, as evidenced by an article in brand-new York time that defined the shoplifters as making use of “shopping bags lined with metal“.


That’s why ‘tin silver paper hats’ are a thing. (So the gomen can’t review your minds.) picture from

But… but how go one loss the Faraday cage/shield?

In the past, shoplifters have tried countless ways come take off the defense tags indigenous the was they’re steal or tried come disable castle in some way, and also the web is just ripe v suggestions. Some of these methods encompass using forks, bringing their very own magnet, setting the an equipment on fire, and also most hilariously, through smashing it to pieces utilizing a hammer.

Of course, the technology to respond to these top have progressed as well.

For example, over there are now tags that are filled through special ink that will seriously stain the goods if a shoplifter attempted to take it off, reduce the value of the steal merch. Part tags may emit an alarm of your own if they’re being tampered with. And some tags, an especially RF tags, room disguised together an innocent clothing label to protect against detection by shoplifters.


Not simply a barcode label. Source

Booster bags room by no method undefeatable. The most obvious means to respond to them is to protect against relying totally on the EAS modern technology and usage it in mix with less-futuristic methods, favor plain-clothed store detectives, surveillance cameras and anti-theft mirrors. However, just looking the end for world carrying suspicious bags obtained harder in the past few years.

While in the past carrying big bags right into a keep is a suspicious point on that is own, with the recent no-plastic enforcement in Selangor, carrying your very own bag as soon as shopping is no longer a warning sign for the civilization looking the end for potential shoplifters. Even if store security checks the bags the every patron before they go into the store, some booster bags are much more well made than others, through the aluminium lining or metal wire cage sown right into the bag itself, do detection by sight alone virtually impossible.

Some providers saw a equipment to this trouble in the kind of a different antenna, one that detects booster bags instead. How these antennas work-related is almost the exact same as the EAS, except that it detects film-shaped steel alloys top top a human when they enter a store. The antenna won’t choose up the alloys in baby strollers and also other steel things people wear or carry, as the steel density and also shape in these aren’t sufficient to create an alarm. As soon as this happens, a silent alert is sent to the storekeepers come warn castle of a possible thief.

Shoplifting is a widespread problem, yet…


Causes of sleeve loss, listed by a defense provider. Source

Judging by the EAS antennas in ~ the entrance of practically every shop and supermarket today, us do know that shoplifting is a far-reaching problem in Malaysia. However, currently there are no precise statistics available on the matter. Also though there space a variety of studies pertaining come employee theft, studies on shoplifting in Malaysia are somewhat harder to come by. This thefts are frequently the two biggest reasons of lose for retail companies.

Federal CID manager Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin, in an interview with The Star, had clarified the in their crime statistics, the police carry out not have a particular category for shoplifting in stores. Shoplifting instances are lumped in addition to other ‘theft in building’ cases, similar to it is grouped together in ar 380 the Penal code, which claims that shoplifters may face

“…imprisonment for a ax which may expand to ten years, and shall additionally be responsible to fine, and also for a 2nd or subsequent offence, shall it is in punished through imprisonment and also shall likewise be liable to well or come whipping.”

The absence of studies may be as result of there being more ability ~ above the employer’s side to avoid employees indigenous stealing merchandise and also money in comparison v their capacity to stop random people coming in and shoplifting. However, an post from 2012 may hint at the severity that shoplifting towards retailers.

Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd, owner the the Mydin stores approximately Malaysia estimated the amount of loss as result of shoplifting cases to be in between 1-1.5% that its total yearly sales. However, the controlling director, Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin had proclaimed that the amount had increased indigenous 0.5% from 2010, which is quite a steep increase.

“The losses developed by these syndicates can full up come RM30mil a year. Not only is this happening every day, but these people are also getting much more aggressive as soon as caught,” – Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, regulating director the Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd, for The Star.

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On the various other hand, the KK Group, owner that the KK Supermarket chain, approximates a ns of RM300 daily. Part retailers have no an option but to pass on this loss come the customers, most likely by enhancing the prices a little. However, some retailers, choose GCH retail (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd the the gigantic hypermarket fame, budget these losses as component of your cost, together their prices are component of your branding strategy.