Electronic article surveillance (EAS) is a technological method for preventing shoplifting from retail stores, pilferage of books from libraries or removal of properties from office buildings. Special tags are fixed to merchandise or books. These tags are removed or deactivated by the clerks when the item is properly bought or checked out. At the exits of the store, a detection system sounds an alarm or otherwise alerts the staff when it senses active tags.
There are several major types of electronic article surveillance systems:
Acousto-magnetic (AM) System
These tags are made of two strips, a strip of magnetostrictive, ferromagnetic amorphous metal and a strip of a magnetically semi-hard metallic strip, which is used as a biasing magnet (to increase signal strength) and to allow deactivation. These strips are not bound together but free to oscillate mechanically.
The detectors for such tags emit periodic tonal bursts at about 58 kHz, the same as the resonance frequency of the amorphous strips. This causes the strip to vibrate longitudinally by magnetostriction, and to continue to oscillate after the burst is over. The vibration causes a change in magnetization in the amorphous strip, which induces an AC voltage in the receiver antenna. If this signal meets the required parameters (correct frequency, repetition etc.) the alarm is activated.
These tags are thicker and are thus seldom used for books. However, they are relatively expensive and have better detection rates.
Radio frequency (RFiD) System
These tags are essentially an LC tank circuit that has a resonance peak anywhere from 1.75 MHz to 9.5 MHz. The most popular frequency is 8.2 MHz. Sensing is achieved by sweeping around the resonant frequency and detecting the dip. Deactivation for 8.2 MHz label tags is achieved by punching a hole, or by detuning the circuit by partially destroying the capacitor. This is done by submitting the tag to a strong electromagnetic field at the resonant frequency which will induce voltages exceeding the capacitor's breakdown voltage, which is artificially reduced by puncturing the tags.