Preventing Theft: The Role of AM and RF Security Systems   


In our security-conscious world, safeguarding possessions is crucial. Two effective systems, Acoustic Magnetic (AM) and Radio Frequency (RF) security systems, play a significant role in preventing theft. Let’s explore how these systems work and their key benefits. 

AM Security Systems:

AM systems are commonly used in retail environments to protect merchandise. They consist of electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags and detectors. EAS tags are discreet devices attached to products, emitting a unique acoustic signal when exposed to a specific magnetic field. Detectors placed at store exits create the field. If a tagged item passes through it, an alarm is triggered, alerting staff to potential theft. 

RF Security System:

RF systems operate differently but with the same objective. They also use EAS tags and detectors. The EAS tags contain an electronic circuit that responds to radio frequency signals emitted by the detectors. When a tagged item passes through the RF field, the circuit activates, triggering an alarm and raising awareness of potential theft. 


Should I Use the AM or RF Frequency?

The structural difference between these two systems is the frequency at which the tag and antenna operate, but there are some additional advantages and disadvantages to each system.

Radio Frequency (RF) systems work by creating a narrow, low-frequency electro-magnetic radio field. If the field is disrupted by a tag or label, it causes that system to alarm. The most popular frequency for RF systems is 8.2MHz, but other frequencies can be 1.81MHz, 1.95MHz, 2.0MHz, 3.25MHz, and 4.7MHz. Whatever frequency your store chooses is up to preference as well as what frequency other in-store devices operate at to avoid interference. As RF Systems are cheaper than AM, they are the most popular choice for retailers. A popular RF operating system is Checkpoint.

They are most commonly used in apparel, shoe, sporting goods, and houseware stores. RF labels are thinner and more like a classic “sticker” material.

Acousto-Magnetic (AM) Systems work similarly to RF Systems, but work at the 58KHz frequency. AM Systems have a better detection range and are the best choice in environments with a lot of radio noise from other sources. These tags are more reliable and less prone to false alarms, but are more expensive. A popular AM operating system is Sensormatic.

The stores that most frequently use AM Systems are consumer electronic, home improvement, grocery, and pharmaceuticals. AM labels are larger and a bit bulkier. They have a “puffy” and raised appearance.

The decision between using an AM or RF system for your store’s EAS depends on various factors and considerations.


AM System:

Detection Range: AM systems generally offer a longer detection range, making them suitable for larger store layouts.
Interference: AM systems are less prone to interference from metal or liquids, resulting in fewer false alarms.
Cost: AM systems are usually more expensive than RF systems.


RF System:

Cost: RF systems are generally more affordable than AM systems, making them a budget-friendly option.
Tag Compatibility: RF systems often have a wider range of compatible tags, providing flexibility in tag selection.
Installation: RF systems are generally easier to install compared to AM systems.


Ultimately, the choice between AM and RF systems depends on factors such as the size and layout of your store, budget constraints, and specific requirements. It is advisable to consult with EAS system providers or security experts who can assess your store’s needs and provide personalized recommendations based on your circumstances.

Be sure to check with management before selecting which frequency you choose. Some franchise or chain stores prefer to stick with one specific frequency across all stores!


Benefits of AM and RF Security Systems:

  • Integration Ease: Integrating AM and RF systems into existing security measures is straightforward. They can be interconnected with video surveillance and access control systems, providing comprehensive security coverage.
  • Versatility: AM and RF security systems can be adapted to various environments and industries. They accomodate different tag formats, making them suitable for a wide range of merchandise.
  • Quick Detection: AM and RF systems rapidly and reliably detect tagged items. When an item enters or exits the detection field, the system triggers an alarm, enabling swift action to prevent losses.
  • Deterrence: Visible AM and RF security systems act as deterrents, discouraging potential thieves from attempting theft.



AM and RF security systems are effective tools in preventing theft. With their visible presence, quick detection capabilities, versatility, and integration options, they offer valuable protection for businesses and individuals. By implementing these systems, one can enhance asset security and gain peace of mind in an increasingly complex world.