Complete List of EAS Terms

The complete list of EAS terms explained

In loss prevention, Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) is one of the most common and effective strategies to protect stock against theft. But with a wealth of terms, phrases and technical information, it also has the potential to be a little overwhelming.

This week we’re breaking down the language of EAS, with a guide to what those terms and phrases mean. Here’s a complete list of EAS terms explained.

Article Surveillance terms


In EAS, the antenna is the component that “talks to” the tags and labels. Basically, an antenna sends out an electronic signal at regular intervals and the tag or label answers back. Antennas can be positioned in various places – overhead, in the door fame, in pedestals, under the floor and even in change rooms.


Positioned in the entryway to a shopfront, pedestals contain the antenna that monitors tags and labels. Depending on the width of the doorway and the type of EAS system being used, there may be one pedestal or two and sometimes more used to monitor tagged and labelled stock.

RF and AM

EAS operates at one of two frequencies – RF or AM. AM (Acousto Magnetic) systems operate at 58 KHz, which means a signal is sent out in pulses or bursts between 50 and 90 times a second while (RF) Radio Frequency or RF operates in a sweep at 8.2 MHz.

Hard Tags

Clothing Security Tags

Hard tags or Security Tags are exactly as they sound, they are plastic tags that are affixed to clothing and other products. Within each tag is a transmitter that sends out a signal which is detected by an antenna in the store. Should communication between the tag and antenna be lost, an alarm sounds.

Hard tags come in a variety of shapes, such as pencil, square and clamshell. They also come in different strengths, and include a series of components: the tag, a pin which passes through the product into the tag, and a locking mechanism (either mechanical or magnetic).


Security labels work in the same way as hard tags, but are more commonly used at stores with a greater number of products or where attaching a hard tag simply isn’t feasible. They come in a variety of sizes. Labels can be affixed at the store or the point of manufacture.

Cable tag

cable tag is a hard tag that attaches to a product via a lanyard or cable. Suited to merchandise like jackets, shoes and handbags, the cable is made from materials that cannot be easily cut.

Alarming tag – Alarming tags are often an upgraded cable tag designed to offer multiple layers of security. Not only do they set of the EAS alarm when a shoplifter attempts to leave a store with an item, they also independently sound an alarm should someone try to tamper with the tag.


The detacher is the device used to remove tags from products.


A deactivator is the device used to cancel the label’s signal so an item can leave a store without the alarm sounding.

Source tagging

Source tagging sees EAS tags and labels applied at the point of manufacture rather than in-store.

False alarm

An unintentional setting off of an EAS alarm where there is no intent to shoplift. False alarms may occur when an item fails to be deactivated at the checkout, a protected display item is placed too close to the EAS system, there are undetected security tags in the area, or if a system malfunctions.

Tag pollution

A condition caused when an active EAS label is taken from one retail location to a second retail location with a working EAS system, thereby causing an alarm to sound.

Pick Rate

The ratio of the number of times an EAS system detects an active EAS security label or tag versus the number of times it does not.



The pin is the component of hard tags that passes through a product and then locks into the tag. Pins come with different pin-head sizes. It’s generally noted, the larger the pin head size the harder it is to remove illegally as larger pins cannot be pulled through products without incurring damage. Ink pins can be added for increased deterrence.

Locking mechanism

All tags involve some sort of locking mechanism that secures the pinhead within the tag. The most common are mechanical locks and magnetic locks.


Magnetic locks come in a series of strengths:

  • Standard– Featuring a standard strength magnet, this option remains very popular with legacy systems but has the greatest potential to be circumvented by thieves.
  • SuperLock– Using a high-powered magnet often more than double the strength of standard magnets, tags of this grade provide increased resistance against illicit removal.
  • HyperLock– HyperLock features a combination of multiple high-powered magnets arranged into a single detacher body. HyperLock detachers are difficult for would-be criminals to manufacture, source and carry around.
  • Multipolar– Is the latest proprietary technology that requires sophisticated bi-directional magnets to release a tag. Multipolar tags cannot be released by any other magnet detacher no matter how powerful.

More information about general loss prevention terminology and common strategies is available here, or for assistance in sourcing the right security tags and labels for your store, contact our friendly Security Tags staff.