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Reducing the Rewards of Shoplifting: An Evaluation of Ink Tags

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: (April 1996) Pages: 11-14
R L DiLonardo; R V Clarke
Date Published
4 pages
The effectiveness of "ink tags" as antishoplifting devices was examined in two studies undertaken in a chain of apparel stores.
Ink tags are attached to apparel in the same way as the more familiar electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags, but if tampered with, the ink vials break and stain the garment. A warning to this effect is printed directly on the tag. A garment with an ink stain can be neither worn nor sold, so shoplifters cannot gain any benefit from stealing it. The ink tags now available are compact (little more than 1 inch in diameter), reuseable, and can be removed easily by shop assistants with a special tool at the point-of-sale. The first study of ink tags involved 14 new stores that were opened with ink tags manufactured by a small, Florida-based supplier. Physical inventories were taken at various times between 6 months and 1 year after opening. On an annualized basis after the introduction of ink tags, inventory shortages in the 14 stores averaged 1.49 percent of sales compared with the chain-wide average of 1.74 percent, an improvement of 14 percent. Additionally, the return on investment with ink tags proved to be superior to the investment in EAS, because the costs of the ink tag system were significantly lower. A second study in the same chain involved the replacement of EAS with ink tags in four stores that incurred high shortages in spite of the use of EAS. These stores incurred an average shortage of 4.5 percent of sales before the replacement with ink tags. One year after the replacement, shortages dropped approximately 42 percent, from an average of 4.5 percent of sales to an average of 2.4 percent. These findings show the effectiveness of ink tags in reducing shoplifting and in improving on the cost-effectiveness of an EAS system. 2 tables and 10 references