Do’s And Don’ts In Responding To A Clothing Alarm Part 2

95 BILLION Dollars, that is the estimated cost of what shoplifting and dishonest employee theft cost retailers worldwide in 2014-205, according to the 2014-2015 Global Retail Theft Barometer (pg. 25). Just as disturbing for clothing retailers, their total shrinkage was 1.80% globally.  In North America clothing retail shortage as a percent to sales was even higher at 2.28%. With these kinds of numbers it is important for retailers who carry any type of clothing merchandise to use Checkpoint tags to protect against theft. Clothing security tags along with electronic article surveillance (EAS) antennas can provide the protection needed to curb theft. Once a clothing alarm system is in place, there will be training provided on how to maintain equipment and also how to respond to alarms. Once that training is complete, it is the responsibility of the owner or managers to conduct ongoing training of new employees. I was a Retail Loss Prevention Manager for a long time and a part of my job was to train front end employees as well as Loss Prevention staff how to properly respond to a clothing alarm. Take my word for it there is a right and wrong way to do it. In part 1 I covered what NOT to do in response to an EAS alarm. In this article I will give tips on what should be done when a Checkpoint tag activates an alarm.


For some readers who may have missed the first part of this series, I will briefly review what clothing security tags and EAS antennas are. Clothing security tags are radio frequency tuned, anti-theft devices that are pinned on softlines merchandise. EAS antennas are the towers that you frequently see located at store entrances/exits. When an item protected by a Checkpoint tag is near the antenna a loud 95 decibel alarm sounds and lights on the antenna flash. It is this alert signal that store employees respond to in order to recover merchandise.


How your employees respond to the clothing alarm activation can determine how effective your system will be. A proper response can also keep your employees safe and keep merchandise in the building. These are my tips for properly responding with clothing security tags cause an alarm activation.


  • Respond immediately. When a customer has to wait they become agitated or walk out. Agitated customers are more difficult to work with and those that walk out provide no opportunity to recover merchandise.
  • Be polite. Assuming someone has stolen something and being terse or accusatory will probably cause a defensive response, even if the person did not do anything dishonest or illegal. A smile goes a long way in disarming a grouch.
  • Ask if you can assist in determining what may have caused the alarm activation. Provide possible solutions.  Did the cashier overlook something? Did you purchase something at another store that may be causing the alarm? Would you mind if I looked at your receipt to see if any Checkpoint tags were not removed? When you give suggestions you give “outs”. Many times someone who is trying to steal will be willing to give up merchandise if they have an excuse made for them.
  • Do ask to look at a receipt and check inside a bag or purse or backpack. If the patron refuses you can go back to giving some “outs”, suggesting an error may have been made, removing fault from the shopper.
  • If merchandise is found that was not paid for DO treat it as an oversight and Do offer to have the item rung at a register or the customer may “choose” not to purchase the item. 
  • IF there were Checkpoint tags not removed and it was the fault of the cashier, be sure to apologize for the inconvenience and follow up with the cashier so they are aware of the oversight.


I dislike a thief and spent many years working to deter or catch and prosecute them. I also learned that there were times when it was better to be nice, no matter how suspicious the circumstances and get merchandise back. Clothing alarm activations should be your opportunity to get your product back, keeping profits in the store. Purchase a clothing security tags and EAS antennas and watch how much of your shortage you can shrink, adding profits to your bottom line.


Need information on Clothing security tags? Give us a call at 1.770.426.0547 now. 


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