Is anyone using the technology to thwart theft at the shelf level?
I assume you are talking about theft within a store. I am unaware of anyone using radio frequency identification to identify theft at the shelf level, but there were tests conducted years ago to see if that were possible. The idea is to use readers on shelves to detect unusual activity. One of the most frequently stolen items is razor blade refill cartridges (see Gillette Fuses RFID With Product Launch and Gillette, P&G Put On Live EPC Demo). Many stores lock these behind the counter for that reason, but doing so tends to hurt sales, since customers could come in, look for the blades on the shelf and leave without finding them.
A shelf reader could monitor activity and report anomalies. So, let’s say the average purchase is one to three packages. If someone were to remove 10 packages, this could signal a possible theft in progress. A reader could detect that 10 items were removed from the shelf and software could trigger an alert to a security guard, perhaps providing a photo of the person who removed those products. The security guard could then keep an eye on that person and, if he or she failed to pay for the items in question, stop the thief from leaving the store.
As I said, though, I am unaware of any company that is using RFID in this way at present. Of course, if anyone is, they might not be eager to broadcast that information.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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