Imagine a local drug store displaying its high-end cameras or lithium batteries on shelves or pegs right alongside disposable products. Must be a store with a high rate of pilferage right? But maybe not since now thanks to security labels in the packages used for high-end goods pilferage is close to being tamed by many retailers. Whether referred to as source tagging or electronic article surveillance (EAS) the process is understood by consumers as the embarrassing alarm that sometimes sounds when someone attempts to leave a store without paying for the goods. What consumers probably don't realize is that retailers are embracing EAS to help change the way they do business-and cut losses. One company leading the way is Deerfield IL-based Walgreen Co. Walgreens completed installation of Checkpoint Systems' (Thorofare NJ) Impulse® alarm system in all of its 2 stores last year. Currently there are two major technologies in the U.S. in the electronic article surveillance game: Checkpoint uses radio frequency technology; Sensormatic (Boca Raton FL) employs acoustomagnetic technology (see sidebar right.) See sidebar p. 70 for information about a British technology. Both technologies revolve around the label or tag affixed to merchandise. They take many shapes. One of the first seen by consumers was the "hard tag" usually attached directly to apparel or shoes at the store level. Labels affixed to packs at the store level or applied to packages by manufacturers are a more recent medium. All systems use two other components: a deactivator located near the bar-code scanner at the checkout aisle and sensor gates located near the exit doors in a store. An alarm system is triggered when someone passes through the gate with non-deactivated merchandise. One difference betwen the systems is that the respective sensors have diffferent sensitivities permitting varied configurations at the exit doors. This is a factor that may persuade retailers to choose one system over another. You look at the whole package" says Ernie Locker loss prevention manager of Walgreen Co. "You look at the ability to detect the ability to place the tag how you get deactivation the overall rate of return the ability to work with scanning systems. There's a whole range of things. You look to see how each works within your environment. "We talked to different manufacturers and retailers and we did some test evaluations" he continues. However he shies away from promoting one system over the other stressing that "for our environment Checkpoint made the most sense."