Be sure to remove store sensor tags as sewn in to your clothing

This is a discussion on Be sure to remove store sensor tags as sewn in to your clothing within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This happened to me just about an hour ago at a local Home Depot. I walked in with my wife and two kids to do ...

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Thread: Be sure to remove store sensor tags as sewn in to your clothing

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Exclamation Be sure to remove store sensor tags as sewn in to your clothing

    This happened to me just about an hour ago at a local Home Depot.

    I walked in with my wife and two kids to do some general purchasing of various supplies.
    We went to check out and all was fine.

    As we walked away from the counter toward the exit the stores Sensormatic device alerted and activated the theft prevention buzzer.
    No big deal I thought we just finished paying and weren't even 10' from the register. We kept on moving my wife in front of the cart, both my kids in the cart along with our purchased product, and me at the rear pushing the cart.

    I was stopped by a store employee.

    This is the first time I've ever been stopped by such a person, though this does not happen to me but once in a very blue moon.
    So I voluntarily stop walking still within the store itself and maybe 3 or 4' from the sensoring device.
    The store employee says that she needs to check our bags and receipt, both of which are in the cart. I have no problem with this and say nothing in response.
    She removes a powerstrip I'd bought and walks over to the sensor to see if that is the offender. Nothing happens.
    She then comes back over and takes another item from the bag and walks to the device and again nothing happens.

    She then asks if I have anything in my pockets.
    Now this is where things get funny, to my view.
    The device had begun to alaram at the time that my wife had walked through who was 2 or 3' ahead of us and first out of the register line queue. I was last and it was already alerting by the time I'd walked up to and past it. But she selected me to ask and not my wife. More on that later.

    So I comply with her request and state I have nothing in my pockets but my cellphone, keys, and wallet.
    She asks if she can see them to see if they are making their device go off. I say yes and counter by asking why would your device be so sensitive to pickup my keys or cellphone...it's not a metal detector. She replies yes it's for store sensors.
    I comply for the heck of it and show her my stuff and wave it using an outstretched arm toward the store sensor device. Nothing, as expected.

    She then comments to me that she thought she saw somethign else in my pocket and asks what it is...

    Now lets pause here for a second.

    I am wearing old work boots that I've owned maybe 6 yrs.
    I have on jeans that are two yrs. old. A pair of boxers that are equally old. A t-shirt that is at least a decade old. A beret that is 3 yrs. old. As well I am wearing a pull over sweater that I bought a couple of months ago. I also am wearing a field coat that my wife bought me 15 yrs. ago the month we first began to date.
    And I have not picked up anything from their store. Nothing 'accidentally' fell into my pockets.
    Additionally on my person I have;
    * Clipped to my left rear pocket a folding defensive knife that I've owned for like 4 yrs. now
    * On my left side forward hip a leather magazine carrier with a loaded 10 rd. extended length single stack Chip McCormick magazine
    * On my right side forward hip is an IWB holster with a SigArms GSR 5" 1911 there and loaded with 8+1 rounds
    * And I'm wearing a leather belt that I'd bought ~8 yrs. ago

    I am now center of store attention by purchasers and other store personnel watching on from short distances.

    ...So to answer her question I make the choice to reveal to her that I am carrying a pocket knife in my back pocket and I display it to her.
    It is a Gerber Applegate-Fairburn model folder. Definitely not something you would ever find at Home Depot on their shelves.
    I show this to her, but do not open it, and her eyes went wide. The knife remains closed. I did not open it because I do not want her nor any onlooker, who cannot hear my words as spoken to her, to think OMG that guy just pulled a knife on that lady...after being caught by the store theft alarm.
    Secondly I remain calm and otherwise concealed toward my other arms.

    I state to her looking at her directly but smiling so as to appear 'warm', folk tell me I have a cold/serious/scary normal gaze face, "What do we do now?".
    She looks me over once more and says don't worry about it.
    I smiled, and walked off with my family.

    We get to the car and my wife is all it's your gun. It's your gun!!!
    No, it's not my gun. Those devices are not metal detectors like at the airport. If they were and were that sensitive then nobody would be able to get out of the store upon buying much larger things like wrenches, power tools, compressors, etc. Duh!

    The only logical answer is that something amongst my clothing caused their device to go off. And as all but one article of my clothing is literally years old as soon as we walk through the door I check my pull over top for a store sensor. I find one on my left side lower edge literally right along a seam that was lying on top of where I carry my magazine holster.
    It's a very good thing I did not in the store posit this theory and attempt to locate it while standing there. I would have been outed and no doubt the cops called.

    So I cut the thing off, which BTW does have imprinted on it instruction to do just that upon purchase, and I immediately call the store back.
    I identify myself by first name to the customer service person and explain what had just occurred at their store. She remarks that they have recorded the "incident" in their store log. I then comment that I found a sensor on my months old top and she asks if it came from "Old Navy". I reply yes. She states that the sensors from that store are same as the ones they use at Home Depot and that this occurs every so often. She tells me she'll update their record and not to worry about it. She went on to thank me for calling to inform them.

    Afterward I have a conversation with my wife and daughter, she's 6, about compliance, the law, and individual rights.
    I adise them that she the store employee has no legal powers nor rights to ask me to remove anythign from my person nor even to show her anything. My choice to comply though this time was simply my own choice. I
    Additionally even if store security, if there is any, had arrived and even if they are wearing law enforcement style clothes and even if they have a 'SECURITY' badge affixed to it they do not have the powers or right to arrest or even detain me. I have the choice to comply with their requests, and if such were to have occurred I would likely not have chosen to comply.
    As to my state of carry of tools be it my knife or my firearm (both of which in MA are deemed as 'weapons' as are basically and literally anything else), I am licensed and permitted to carry the firearm and associated magazine with ammunition concealed. The knife was not concealed as the clip and the top edge of the knife itself is exposed...if you look for it.
    I am not though by any state nor federal law required to state to anyone my status of tools or weapons kept or concealed upon my person. I am not even by state law required to state to a law enforcement officer that I am carrying a concealed firearm, although per my own rules of operation I do and would when applicable.

    My wife then responded that this happens to her all the time and never has she been stopped, when I'm not there.
    Further she went on to say that if I had not been there they would not have even looked at her. And that this was just per her words a case of me being Black (she's white) and that was that once the alarm lit off. Which again it went off as my wife went through before I had even left from the register checkout area.

    So yes this was a bit long but I wanted to be complete in the reporting and lessons to share.
    Know your rights. Make your choices and know when and what choices you can make. Think first before acting because once you act on your choice there is no undo or redo. Had this woman or eghad the store observers seen my HUGE LOADED magazine or BIIIIGGGG loaded gun she and everyone would have flipped out. Never mind that I'm standing there with my kids, wife, and a basket full of swag I had paid for.
    And the cops would have come with lights and sirens active. My kids be traumatized, 6 and 2 yrs. old, upon seeing cops being mean to daddy. The same cops that I tell them to go to if ever they are lost in the store or are in trouble and daddy (or mom) is not around to help. And over a gun. The same gun that at home I have spent a lot of time and effort training my children to understand as fact is not itself inherently dangerous and is just a tool...and that daddy is not a danger either even as I do carry it concealed.

    So folk who carry, which is many of us, keep in mind to cut those store sensor tags off as otherwise there could be trouble.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

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  3. #2
    Member Array chenemf's Avatar
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    I've been stopped before but never asked about what was on my person. Something in the bag always turns out to be the culprit.

    Seems to me, it was alarming on your wife, not you. Each of you could have walked through one at a time to see who was setting it off.

    My wife had a bad experience one time in the mall when "security" tracked her down in a neighboring store and made a big scene (falsely). My impression was that "security" was not well trained.

  4. #3
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    Me and my wife went went to JC Pennys and picked up several items of clothes about a week ago.

    When we walked out, the alarms went off. We let them check the bags and they found 3 sensors that had not been removed by the cashier. She took them off,apologized for missing them and we walked out.

    Its hard to get good help these days.
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    Senior Member Array FlyboyLDB's Avatar
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    Yes, Old Navy clothling is bad for this. When Christmas shopping with my girls - who were wearing Old Navy fleece - the sensors would go off when entering and exiting a fair number of stores. All would just inquire to where they purchased their fleece - when they heard Old Navy - the store personel would just say to go on through.

  6. #5
    Member Array Weedy's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear about your situation, but glad it came out ok. I had a similar instance happen to me not too long ago when my fiance' bought me a new Columbia coat. Inside the coat was a hidden tag that needed to be cut off, just like you described. I had walked into the Walgreens to get some meds etc, and it went off as we walked in and when we walked out. At this point I had no idea what was going on, although I knew nothing had "fallen into my pockets". Fortunately at that time we noticed the tag inside of my coat to show the employees at Walgreens, and proceded to walk out without further incident.

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    Senior Member Array nosights's Avatar
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    I can't beleive that your wife wasn't singled out! You know it's the women that do the shop lifting! OK, maybe that was sexist...this was HomeDepot right? If I were to shoplift from there, the hardest part would be concealing the tablesaw not my .45 :)
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    VIP Member Array rottkeeper's Avatar
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    My cousin and I were working on a project together (both carpenters) and went to the local Home Depot every day. And sure enough at least three times a week the thing would go off. The clerk knows us well from being in the store all the time and never questioned us so we would go on with her waving us off. Enter a new clerk and a big ado and we found out it was the work boots he had on had a security tag somewhere. He alternated boots that he wore so it took a while to catch.
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  9. #8
    VIP Member Array grady's Avatar
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    Interesting.

    It alarmed with you 3'-4' from the sensor? Seems pretty sensitive. I also thought they would have targetted your wife first since she was closer to the sensor.

    Any chance your wife's clothing looked less likely to be able to hide anything, such as her wearing a thin coat or none at all?

    Can the sensor on your sweater be electronically deactivated, or must it be cut off? Just wondering if it was already deactivated and something in your wife's clothing is the culprit. I confess I'm not familiar with those tags on clothing. I shop for my clothes once every year or two, whether I need to or not.

    If it was such a big deal to the clerk, why did she call it all off so soon without identifying the supposed "stolen" item? Not that I would prefer she further detain you--just curious. Is their policy "detain and try to get a confession, but if not, let it go"?

    Last question, councelor : if you were the store clerk assigned to investigate any alarms, who would you have approached first? Is it possible it wasn't a black/white issue, but more one of dealing with the male so he doesn't overreact with feelings of protection toward the female? I'm not saying it wasn't a racial issue: you were there, I wasn't. Just curious if there could be something else in play. If my wife and I were stopped, they'd probably suspect me first also because of the way I look and because my wife isn't big--not much room to hide stuff on her.

    Good for you for knowing your rights. You are correct that had the police been summoned, even though you eventually would have been cleared, the big scene might have a negative effect on your kids in relation to your guns and the supposed helpfulness of the police. If your wife is not on board with your guns, any negative comment by her about the big scene being caused or exacerbated by your guns could have a lasting negative impact on your kids.

    P.S. Nothing in this post should be construed as being critical of your actions.

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    Glad things worked out OK for you. It's a shame stores have to go to the level they do for theft prevention.

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    Ex Member Array 1John5vs7's Avatar
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    Very interesting story.

    Hey Janq,

    I liked the way you wrote this post, my friend. Of course the issue at hand was that you were a man of color, but you did the classy thing and didn't assert this up front. Bravo for you.

    As a white guy who has seen a fair bit of racism directed toward blacks in particular, I would bet my bottom dollar that you were stopped and treated this way because of the color of your skin. Sucks that we get so caught up in such minutiae as how deep your suntan is, but that's America in the modern era, I'm afraid.

    Anyway, I'm glad you didn't have a run in with the police, because in a liberal state like Massachusetts you'd probably be front page news and they'd try to fuel the "Black people are thugs" mass media fraud. Liberals are such racists. Ug.

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array matiki's Avatar
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    I'm just wondering - does your state require to to stop?
    "Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must." - The Duke of Wellington

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    Senior Member Array Landric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matiki View Post
    I'm just wondering - does your state require to to stop?
    In both states I have worked LE in, the standard for merchant detention of a suspected shoplifter is probable cause. The store buzzer going off would rise to the level of reasonable suspicion, but not probable cause IMO. So, at least where I have worked, they can ask you to stop due to a buzzer activation, but cannot require you to do so. Of course, since the standard for detention for a LEO is reasonable suspicion, not probable cause, then if the person asking you to stop due to the buzzer activation is an LEO, you would be legally required to do so.

    I worked at a retail store for a while that had the same theft deterrent gates set up. They are quite sensitive, generally they activate when the person carrying or wearing the non-deactivated item(s) is within 4 or 5 feet. In my experience, the biggest offender for non-deactivation of tags was womens purses. We often had folks come in carrying a purse that set off the sensors. I would always offer to deactivate the purse (or other offending item) when the person entered so as to avoid confusion upon exit. Most people were happy to have me do so.
    -Landric

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  14. #13
    Senior Member Array youngda9's Avatar
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    It sounds like you did well in the situation. Perhaps your wife looked shocked and that got you a little bit more attention, she might have felt that something was going to happen since you were carrying a gun since she thougth that was the cause. This may have gotten you guys some extra attention. And since from the way you described you were dressed(old clothes) down to your boxers, you might have looked like the type to steal stuff(old clothes, baggy pullover to conceal things, field coat that probably has several pockets, etc.).

    I'd give the store the benefit of the doubt on not knowing who set off the sensors. (I am not one to jump towards racism without any sort of proof and don't think this even warrants the thought. Just because you're black and were scrutinized doesn't mean it was due to racism....sorry, a major peve of mine)

    Glad all turned out well and you figured out what was causing the problem. Sounds like the store was happy and was quite understanding as well.

    P.S. Post some pics of yourself rockin the beret :)
    Speak softly, and carry a big stick.

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    Distinguished Member Array morintp's Avatar
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    White people are just jealous of melanin. We don't have enough of our own, so we have to be jealous of yours. Seriously, I don't know why racism occurs, but you handled it with class. Kudos to you, Sir.

    On a side note, when I was a teenager I was accused of shoplifting once by an overzealous plainsclothes security guard that didn't notice me leave a walkman on a shelf before I left the store. He came up to me in the next store I was in and told me to give him back the Walkman. I told him I didn't have it, and he said he watched me walk out the door with it. He tried to grab my arm and drag me back, but I pulled away and led him back to where I left the walkman. I made an exaggerated flourish to show him his mistake.

    A few weeks later I was back in the same store with a couple of friends. I saw the same guy pretending to be a shopper. I very loudly told my friends all about it, pointing him out. Everyone around him kept giving him looks and he left because his cover was blown. It's hard to stay undercover when you're bad at it.
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  16. #15
    VIP Member Array matiki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Landric View Post
    In both states I have worked LE in, the standard for merchant detention of a suspected shoplifter is probable cause. The store buzzer going off would rise to the level of reasonable suspicion, but not probable cause IMO. So, at least where I have worked, they can ask you to stop due to a buzzer activation, but cannot require you to do so. Of course, since the standard for detention for a LEO is reasonable suspicion, not probable cause, then if the person asking you to stop due to the buzzer activation is an LEO, you would be legally required to do so.

    I worked at a retail store for a while that had the same theft deterrent gates set up. They are quite sensitive, generally they activate when the person carrying or wearing the non-deactivated item(s) is within 4 or 5 feet. In my experience, the biggest offender for non-deactivation of tags was womens purses. We often had folks come in carrying a purse that set off the sensors. I would always offer to deactivate the purse (or other offending item) when the person entered so as to avoid confusion upon exit. Most people were happy to have me do so.
    WA is the same. The Store Detective can detain for investigation but it's not a good idea and I'm not aware of any companies that practice it. The store I worked for only let me detain shoplifters I'd witnessed and considered the buzzers at the door a deterrent, not a method of detection. SOP was to deactivate the entire bag without opening it - assuming they stuck around and wanted to let you.
    "Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must." - The Duke of Wellington

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