With the recent focus in the news on the opioid crisis you may not realize that it is still important for retailers to stop shoplifting of one particular item, lithium batteries. Used in the manufacture of methamphetamine these batteries are a highly sought after ingredient and therefore a target of criminals. Aside from the cost alone, which makes them easy to resell on the internet or through those mom and pop shops that deal in stolen merchandise, they are an essential ingredient in making methamphetamine. According to the website narcononarrowhead.org, there are two methods to making methamphetamine and one of those methods requires the use of lithium extracted from lithium batteries. Hopefully retail owners will be good stewards and choose to protect against theft for the good of the communities they serve. If for no other reason they should want to prevent theft for the impact it has on the bottom line of the stores. By employing a theft prevention strategy that includes the retail anti-theft device can deter attempts to shoplift. They can also detect those situations when shoplifters choose to attempt to leave with tagged goods.
The question left hanging out there may be can a retail anti-theft device such as an Auto Peg Tag actually stop shoplifting? It can but it is not going to do it on its own. It will require a concerted effort on the part of those who tag merchandise and the people trained on responding to a electronic article surveillance (EAS) tower alarm. If only part of a category of merchandise is tagged then dishonest patrons are going to steal untagged goods, in this case lithium batteries. As a Loss Prevention Manager I was tasked from time to time with auditing other stores in our district and this was an issue. I would find for example medicines that were supposed to have EAS labels on them and when I would dig into the products on the back of the shelf I would locate unprotected items. I believe in the concept of Shortage Action Plans that include protecting high shrink merchandise with retail anti-theft devices but the tagging MUST be consistent.
I do want to briefly tell those readers who may not be familiar with the Auto Peg Tag what it is and how it can deter the theft of Lithium batteries (and other pegged products). This tag is a pinless, one-piece design tag that is clamped over the peghole of merchandise packaging. They come designed for single and double peghole packages for maximum protection. The design allows has little, if any impact on the amount of product that can be placed on a peghook. They do not interfere with the packaging information or appearance key elements that aid in shopper choices. They come to you built to work with electronic article surveillance towers. They even have a security warning and a lock symbol on them to warn ne’er-do-wells that the merchandise is protected and to leave it alone.
With all of that said I found I was still curious as to how methamphetamine makers are still able to make their drugs since pseudoephedrine products have been moved behind pharmacy counters. I thought this was going to quell that epidemic and therefore lithium battery theft would be in decline. I did some research and found that “cooks” are still able to get their hands on cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine through some creative methods. They do find ways to circumvent laws intended to restrict how much a person can buy in a month. It is not my intent to go into those details. Suffice it to say there is ample evidence that in spite of restrictions on the primary ingredient the bad guys are getting their hands on it. Lithium batteries will continue to be a target for criminals unless you stop shoplifting by tagging them.
Retailers, keep control of your battery inventory. They are easy for bad guys to re-sell on the internet or out of a flea market, warehouse or mom and pop shop. For the illegal drug manufacturers they are easy pickings unless protected with the Auto Peg Tag. Remember that there are customers who prefer lithium batteries to alkaline batteries so you don’t want to lose that shopper. Don’t lock up your batteries; protect them from theft while making profitable sales.
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