Vendor Review: shopliftinggear.com

Edit: Ceased operating on July 14, 2013 – read further below for details.

As at May 11, 2013, a newcomer has entered the playing field and, we can tell you, it will be short lived. If the name wasn’t already obvious enough, this vendor unashamedly registered a domain name that describes an illegal activity. As a result, they put the industry at risk by directly associating tag removal devices with an intention to steal. Simply put, irresponsible vendors like this don’t belong in the market.

We’re in the process of dismantling this little operation, and here is what we have achieved so far:

  1. We reported their Facebook page for promoting prohibited activities and had it removed (www.facebook.com/shopliftinggear now redirects to homepage).
  2. We contacted PayPal and advised that this vendor was breaching their terms of service by using the PayPal brand to promote illegal activity (anyone who buys from this vendor also risks their PayPal account being ‘permanently limited’).
  3. Even Zoklet doesn’t like this guy! All posts made by the same username (shopliftinggear) have been deleted, courtesy of moderators.
  4. We have published the name and address of the owner (see further below).

As with another obsolete website, commonthief.com, originally owned by a user under the alias of Ampix0, this vendor will soon realise they will be forced out of operation once PayPal cuts them off.

Do they actually ship the items ordered? We don’t know yet, but if they last long enough we’ll test them out – so you don’t have to….

Update (July 14, 2013): It took a while, but shopliftinggear.com has had their PayPal account permanently limited: As a result, the website can no longer conduct business. If you were unlucky enough to order from this vendor, we recommend that you contact PayPal immediately, place a buyer’s dispute, and request a full refund.

sl-gearThe vendor’s name and address have been published here in order to assist those seeking a refund or recourse for their flagged or ‘limited’ PayPal account, which has become unwillingly associated with this ‘high risk’ user.

Dylan Leger
101 Keeneland
Lafayette, LA 70506
United States
+1 (337) 315-1201



Mini Pocket Detacher

Mini Pocket DetacherOne of the newer products to come onto the tag removal market is the mini Pocket Detacher. There are a lot of questions being asked about this device, so we’ll attempt to address some of those here. Basically, it’s a portable magnetic detacher that’s opens most (but not all) types of RF tags. Even though the magnetic force is not as powerful as the Golf SuperLock Detacher (FX7), it measures a tiny 58mm (2.3″) in height, with a 22mm (0.9″) diameter, making it much smaller and easier to carry. It weighs about 200 grams (about 0.5lbs), and is reported to measure between 5,000 and 6,000 Gauss.

First off, let’s take a look at a YouTube video which demonstrates some of the security tags this little pocket rocket can remove:

There is clearly a certain degree of trade-off with this product in terms of its portability versus the strength of the magnet. The video shows that it’s not as easy to remove the pins from some of the tags, and it does not work at all on the larger golf-type (rounded) security tags. However, it seems the technique to open some of the tags (by using a light tap when placed onto the magnet) can benefit in the aid of its removal.

Where did the product originate?

We tried to find out who invented this device, mainly because it doesn’t seem like the type of product Checkpoint Systems (manufacturers of RF based security systems) would supply to the market, as it makes it easy for shoplifters to defeat some of their security tags. SenTech appears to be one of the first to market with a device called the ‘hand-held magnetic detacher, with black lanyard‘. It’s not the same product as the mini Pocket Detacher, but the concept is along the same lines of what is trying to be achieved. One of our industry contacts supplied us with correspondence they made with a Chinese manufacturer of EAS goods, at which point they were trying to negotiate an arrangement for production of a similar device. While we can’t confirm this, after those negotiations failed, it seems that the Pocket Detacher was released only a number of months after this occurred. So, we theorise that the device may have stemmed from the interception of somebody’s intellectual property.

How much does it cost?

Detacher Co. sells the Pocket Detacher at around US$50, plus shipping, it costs less than a standard magnetic detacher, but because of its small size it might be easy to lose. For this reason make sure you loop a lanyard in the small hole located on the device. Also, due to the relatively powerful magnet, it’s best not to use the hole for attaching to a key ring, or any other metal object. It does include a screw-off cap to cover the internal magnet, but the magnetic field can still penetrate this.

Vendor Review: detachers.net

One of the less known vendors, operating from a website at www.detachers.net, has been around since February 2011, keeping a relatively low profile. We assert ‘low profile’ due to the small number of videos posted on YouTube, and a lack of social network presence. Nevertheless, in order to investigate the credibility, authenticity and perhaps the size of the website and its market share, we did a little digging…

The domain is owned and registered by a UK entity under the name of Arksway Limited. This is somewhat interesting, because it is one of only three vendors with an officially registered business name (the other two being Detacher Co, owned by Tag-It! Security, and VP EAS Accessories, owned by Michael Filev, a.k.a. ViniPooh). As far as we know, Arksway Limited is not associated with any other vendors, and only operates this one website.

But is this business actually real? According to cdrex.com, the business has an address in Derbyshire, England, and was incorporated in 2009. Their listed secretary was Bronius Markovas. We checked to see if this person was also the owner, but their appointment as secretary ended in 2011, and their records have not been updated since. Further research uncovered that the owner is Mr Arkady Elkin.

So, the business is in fact real, and one can even purchase company documents, such as yearly account statements. We stopped short of that, but did discover that their last capital reporting figure was £2.00 (as at March 21, 2012).

Anyway, what does this all say about www.detachers.net? Well, for one, this tells us that they ship from the United Kingdom. That might be good for customers that live there, but for US customers, and perhaps elsewhere too, there are no shipping options available whatsoever(as at February 17, 2013). The prices are also listed in pounds.

Norton gives the site a big question mark, and there are no customer reviews anywhere on the web. This is probably due to their limited client base being in the UK. Given this fact, we’ll end our research here, until such time we receive any information, complaints or otherwise, from our users.

Trade Leak: Tyco pushes to save its Sensormatic brand

Industry sources have been able to reveal that Tyco is currently in a push to haul in the misuse of its Sensormatic brand (Tyco owns Sensormatic Electronics LLC). The company has targeted several registrants of domain names containing the word ‘Sensormatic’ with a cease and desist notice. The notice also makes demands to the effect that domain name ownership must be transferred to Sensormatic in order to prevent further legal action.

So far, we’ve been able to confirm the following domain names have been targeted:

  • sensormatic-hook.com (SHUT DOWN)
  • sensormatichooks.com (SHUT DOWN)
  • sensormatichook.com (TRANSFERRED TO TYCO)
  • sensormatic.co (TARGETED TRANSFERRED TO TYCO)
  • More to be announced as information comes to hand

At present, it seems that Tyco have stopped short of requesting the removal of certain products which contain the Sensormatic brand name in their description. The irony here is that these products are in fact used to defeat their own intellectual property (e.g. SuperTags). We’ll keep a close eye on this to see if this position changes.

In regards to the rights and obligations of the original domain name owners, we are of the view that they should accept Tyco’s assertion and make efforts to proceed with the transfer. In no way can the ownership of the word Sensormatic be disputed, because it is a wholly owned and registered trademark belonging to the aforementioned company.

How do Booster Bags work?

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for educational purposes only. The authors do not condone shoplifting, and any information contained in this blog post should not be used to engage in illegal activities. In fact, we encourage retailers and their agents to keep abreast of such shoplifting techniques, as this helps to inform them of how their loss prevention strategies may be circumvented.

An example of the Booster BagPut simply, a booster bag (sometimes called a ‘magic bag’) can be used to foil a store’s EAS (electronic article surveillance) detection system by blocking the RF or AM signal which is contained in a security tag or label. Essentially, the bag acts as a shield which prevents the tag from being detected by the security gate as it is passed. The bag is made of tin or aluminium foil, and this can be layered inside a shopping bag, backpack, or even the lining of a pocket inside a piece of clothing.

Unlike opportunistic shoplifters, booster bags are used by professional thieves as an easier means of concealing multiple items in one visit. It also saves time for the would-be thief, as there is no need to remove security tags or labels inside the store. Most often, the shoplifter would use sleight-of-hand or a store blind spot to drop items into the bag. A more crude method involves wrapping ready-made layers of foil around an item at the time of lifting, and then sealing the foil with a fold.

ebates

What items are needed to make a booster bag?

In our example we’ll describe how a double-layered booster bag is made. The two layers enable the bag to appear normal when viewed from either the inside or outside (i.e. unlike the picture shown above, it prevents any metal from being seen). In this experiment, you’ll need:

  • Two new (not old and creased) shopping bags
  • A roll of tin foil
  • Adhesive tape (double-sided works best)
  • A pair of scissors

How is the booster bag made? [Log in or reigster to get access to the video]

  1. Find a large, flat surface and lay out your tools.
  2. Fold the first edge of the roll about 5cm (2”) over, reflective side inwards.
  3. Roll-out some foil, reflective side up, and place one bag against the inside edge.
  4. The handle of the bag must not be covered by any foil (you’ll see why later). Also, the bottom part of the bag may be exposed for now, and this is OK.
  5. Unroll some more length, and lay it over the top side of the bag. The new crease should be as close as possible to the edge – do not make it wider than the bag’s width because your outer bag will need to fit over it.
  6. Grab the two corners of the bag that are closest to the roll of foil, then lift the bag upwards, and as more foil unravels, flip the bag underneath so that the newest layer is on top.
  7. Press down the newly made edge so that it creases closely with the edge underneath.
  8. Repeat this process so that it makes four complete layers (remembering that each flip of the bag covers only one side – i.e. half a layer).
  9. When you have completed four layers (this is enough to block any signal from penetrating), tear off the last edge of foil, and use adhesive tape to seal it down.
  10. If the bottom part of your bag is still exposed (i.e. it’s longer than the width of foil), repeat the process above, but ensure that the bottom of the bag sits above the bottom lining of foil with about 5cm (2”) spare.
  11. Next, at the base of your bag, fold the bottom edge of foil upwards, so that excess length is removed. Tape this bottom edge thoroughly so that it creates a nice seal.
  12. Your (rigid) bag now needs to rest inside an outer bag to conceal the foil lining. Carefully insert your foil bag so that it sits all the way inside the outer bag, right down to the bottom.
  13. Tip: You can gently unflatten the foil bag edges so that it puffs out slightly, making it easier to insert (a puffier looking bag is not undesirable, because it makes an empty bag look full).
  14. The bag must be pushed all the way down, so that the handles of both line up evenly.
  15. Fold the top of the outer bag outwards so that the inside bag’s handle is exposed.
  16. Apply double-sided adhesive tape near to the top edge and handle areas of the inside bag (on both sides), so that the outer bag can seal directly on top of it. Avoid placing tape on any of the foil.
  17. Unfold the outer bag and seal it down onto the tape.

How do you test a booster bag?

  1. Place a cell phone inside the your booster bag.
  2. Pick up the bag by the handles, and hold it naturally, as you would in a store.
  3. Call the cell phone from another line. If it doesn’t ring, your bag is secure. If it did, you may need more layers, or check that the top of your bag has been sealed down thoroughly.

 

Vendor Review: sensormatic-hook.com and sensormatichooks.com (NOW SHUT DOWN)

Edit: As of November 09, 2012, both of these websites have been shut down.

As the domain names suggest, these websites only sell a single product – the Sensormatic Hook. Apparently, the vendor believes this item is a hot commodity, and that sales are directly proportionate to the number of websites one can create. Yet none of the websites associated with this person are of good quality, and they appear to be scratched together with stolen images and content from other suppliers.

The Whois Lookup for each site shows registrations of:

  • sensormatic-hook.com (creation date: 25-Jul-2011)
  • sensormatichooks.com (creation date: 06-Mar-2012)
  • removesecuritytags.com (unconfirmed, but likely the same owner)

The first two websites consist of the same, unappealing layout and design. Strangely, they also feature a short video which refers to a separate site, removesecuritytags.com. This domain is not in operation, and if you attempt to bring up the index page, a directory listing with a bunch of raw files is shown (as at August 17, 2012). After completing a Whois Lookup of this domain, we have been unable to ascertain if the third website is related to the first two, as there is a possibility that the video is leeched.

One thing that we can confirm is that these websites ship out of Europe – which explains the higher prices – probably due to higher shipping costs. But the main problem for (US) customers here would more likely be shipping delays due to clearance issues as the ‘package’ passes through customs. As mentioned in a previous post, this item would be subject to screening upon importation, and it is very hard to predict how long this might take, as well as what consequences might result.

ebates

Turning our focus back to the vendor, we can confirm that the email address associated with the first site is hharnikk@gmail.com. For the second site, the vendor appears to operate under the name of Online Solutions. Lastly, if the third website is indeed owned by the same person, we can confirm it is associated with the handle ‘doosh1000’, of which there are many Google search results. These include a Twitter account, a closed eBay account, a Freelancer profile, etc.

We weren’t able to find any trust seals on any of the websites. Additionally, Norton returned both domains with a big question mark, as they’re probably too small (too few users) to be tested. Also, the owner does not display the Google Wallet acceptance logo, so there are no publicly visible reviews. Amusingly though, the vendor does state on one of their web pages that they are;

“… the number one provider of sensormatic hooks in the UK, US and Europe.”

Since Sensormatic hooks are sold online by private vendors only, and not through companies that are required to report their earnings, one has to laugh at the self gratifying nature of such a remark. Conversely, we are of the view that sensormatic-hook.com and sensormatichooks.com are just a bunch of opportunists, and are more likely the most inexperienced and untrustworthy of all vendors in the field.

Alpha S3 Handkey

[Content updated September 27, 2015 – see the comments section further down]

The Alpha S3 Handkey was once a well guarded, enterprise-level device in which Alpha (a division of Checkpoint Systems, Inc.) successfully prevented mainstream use by way of restricting resale to authorised vendors. This has since changed, however, as the public domain began to share information about the device’s components, enabling it to be broken down, reverse engineered, and eventuallyThis diagram shows the layout of magnets similar to those found in the handkey exploited for all to see. Now, it is possible to purchase no-name replicas of the product, or even make one at home by obtaining instructions on how to make a do-it-yourself handkey.

DISCLAIMER: The diagram shown here is not intended to divulge the intellectual property of Checkpoint Systems, Inc. or any of its subsidiaries. The authors intend only to inform visitors to this site of how generic magnetic handkeys could be constructed at home, and no inference to illegal activity in the use of such a device is made herewith.

TagRemovers.com has been able to obtain documents which show that Sand & Sebolt, LPA acts on behalf of Checkpoint in relation to their patent and intellectual property matters. We understand that, from time to time, their patent attorneys attempt to make contact with unauthorised resellers of this item with a cease a desist notice. Initially this may have been an effective solution, but in recent years the proliferation of generic S3 handkeys that have become available, has forced Checkpoint to rethink its strategy. Over time, this had led to the creation of self-alarming security tags and cables which emit an audible beep when they are detached. We will cover these in a later blog post.

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So what types of security devices does the Alpha S3 Handkey open?

In our next blog post we’ll cover the infamous booster bag. We recommend that you register on our site to stay informed of future articles about security tag removers and all things allied. Also, feel free to leave a comment or provide feedback to any of our blog posts. We will keep growing until we become the definitive source for information on tag removal. Join us while we’re still young…

Vendor Review: shrinkcontrol.com

The domain shrinkcontrol.com was registered less than a year ago (December 19, 2011), however, it has the same registrant details as handkeys.com (which redirects to the new domain). It is possible that the website owner changed names due to some scathing Internet reviews of handkeys.com, perhaps in an attempt to rebrand itself. On first inspection of the new website, one is given the impression that it offers a wide variety of retail theft solutions, but on closer inspection it becomes apparent that it’s only selling detaching devices under the guise of a loss prevention image.

We Googled ‘shrinkcontrol.com reviews’ and the first link that came up was from ripoffreport.com. Here, it is mentioned that the website used to accept PayPal, but somewhere along the line their account was revoked. One possible reason this occurred could be due to some customers claiming they had their PayPal account permanently limited (banned) when purchasing from Shrink Control, as there have been reports that the owner was being pursued by authorities:

“The website, www.handkeys.com, along with other multiple aliases, is operated by an individual known to be selling stolen goods. As of November 1st 2011, authorities have instructed the website host to terminate the domain, and all pages have been subsequently removed at the request of the Sensormatic Corporation.”

Tag Removers decided to perform its own investigation. We started by reviewing their website, but it does not display any trust or safety seals. So, we went ahead and entered the domain at safeweb.norton.com and it brought up a big question mark. It seems the website has not been around long enough to establish conclusive evidence of its authenticity. This sounds like a familiar story; it’s been a well known tactic by scammers to close up shop and then reappear elsewhere in order to evade its own reputation.While we can’t prove shrinkcontrol.com is a scam, users should still exercise caution. There is a chance that if you have purchased from this website, personally identifiable sales records may have been seized by the Sensormatic Corporation.

Vendor Review: Detacher Co (recommended)

Featured

Detacher Co screenshotDetacher Co. operates a website at the domain www.detacher.co. It was registered in April 2011 and operates out of the United States and Australia. According to their about us page, they have two shipping centres, one in South Carolina (US) and another in Western Australia (AU). Detacher Co appears to be relatively up-front about the integrity of its own operations: Their testimonials page contains a snapshot of their Google Wallet rating (4.0 out of 5 stars), and they acknowledge their overall rating contains a few bad reviews which they have not attempted to hide. We’ve been told that since November 20, 2013, Google Checkout for tangible goods has retired, so the website now hosts an open platform based reviewing system.

On some of its pages a Norton Secured trust seal is displayed. We successfully verified their safety claim at safeweb.norton.com. This is a rarity, because out of all the websites we tested on this blog, this was the only one to be Norton secured.

Detacher Co. promotes a warranty feature which it offers on some of its products, including the Sensormatic hook. The warranty is a replacement part guarantee valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. We wanted to verify this assertion, so I sent them an email querying what exactly the warranty covers, and got the following response;

“Products that are marked with a 12 month guarantee will be replaced at no charge should the item become defective within the warranty period. We define the term ‘defective’ to mean ‘no longer working per our product description, or no longer fit for its intended purpose, excluding any damage caused by wear and tear’. For more information, please refer to www.detacher.co/refund.html.”

Prices for the Sensormatic hook start at US$24.98, shipped, and get cheaper the more that you order – for example, the price for five pieces is US$79.95. The Golf Superlock Detacher (FX7) starts at US$99.95, shipped. Recall that these items are dispatched from South Carolina (for US customers), not from overseas sources. ETAs can be viewed on their shipping information page.

When conducting background checks of this website, we discovered that Detacher Co. is owned and operated by Tag-it! Security. This business has a registered name and Australian Business Number (ABN) listed at business.gov.au. Tag-It! Security runs its own, separate loss prevention website and appears to offer a wider range of security tags and detection systems. Alternatively, Detacher Co. specialises in security tag removal devices and deactivation systems.

We also found the following pages which appear to be aligned with Detacher Co:

If you know anything else about this business, leave a reply.

Golf SuperLock Detacher (FX7)

Golf SuperLock Detacher FX7The Golf SuperLock Detacher (FX7) is a powerful magnetic detacher that is capable of discoupling most types of Radio Frequency (RF) tags on the market today. The detacher is designed to be placed on the countertop, in the point-of-sale area, and secured from the base (there are multiple holes underneath for this purpose). It is approximately 71mm in diameter (2.8in), weighs about 400g (14oz) and is just small enough to be portable. Watch a demonstration video here.

With 12,000 to 15,000 Gauss (GS), this product is one of the most powerful detachers available. Guass is the unit of magnetic field strength measured from the surface. It is important to know because security tags cannot be opened with just an average magnet. In fact, some types of security tags cannot be opened with anything less than 10,000 GS. The shape of the FX7 is also important because it allows for placement of ‘clamshell‘ (or ‘golf’) hard tags flush against its surface. With indented magnetic detachers, clamshell tags are not nested completely and, therefore, lose a margin of their field stength.

The material of the SuperLock Detacher is constructed of an outer aluminium coating. Inside are several neodymium magnets (rare earth magnets) that are glued together as one piece in the shape of a cross. These neodymium magnets are prone to finding the closest piece of metal to attach itself to, and can be dangerous to handle. Here’s a link to a video of the detacher being opened up and dismantled to reveal the inside components.

Median prices of this product range between US$79.95 to US$99.95, plus shipping. Similar to other items in the industry, there are a number of knock-offs available. These are mostly cheap imports made in China. The main problem with these is, firstly, they lack the same nagnetic field strength and, secondly, they lose their magnetic force more quickly, eventually degrading to the point when they are no longer able to unpin a security tag. Visually, it’s hard to tell the difference between an authentic product and the imitation. Generally though, like with other electronics, anything that you find that is ridiculously cheap is probably not the real deal.

Check out our Vendor Reviews for some recommended websites where you can purchase this item. And if you have an item that you want us to research, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll schedule it for an upcoming blog post.