Booster Bags

What is a “Booster Bag”?

First, let’s review the definition of a ‘Booster Bag’ by a couple dictionary sources as found on the web.

. defines a ‘booster bag’ as: “a handmade bag used to shoplift, typically from retail stores, libraries, and any other location employing security detectors to deter theft.”

. defines a ‘booster bag’ as: “A cleverly disguised shopping bag that is lined in some manner with aluminum foil so that it renders electronic shoplifting sensors useless. Used by shoplifters to secret their ill-gotten goods out of the store unnoticed.”

When was the first “Booster bag” used?

Historical writings refer to ‘booster devices’ being used in the early 1700s or before. The first shoplifters criminally convicted for using a “booster-device” could have been Mary Robinson and Jenny Holmes. They were convicted for stealing a silver cup and an eighty yard roll of Mantua silk on December 24, 1726. Ms. Holmes (34 years old) and Ms. Robinson (70 years old) were both sentenced and put to death for the crime of shop-lifting.

Here are some recent examples “booster bags” being used today, some 300+ years after they were first invented.

. New Jersey: In March of this year two men were apprehended with “$3,700 worth of clothing, $1,280 in cash and a load of booster bags” when they tried to sell the stolen clothing.

. Nebraska: In December 2017 three women stole from three area mall stores, 17 times in one month, taking $5,000 worth of merchandise each time using “booster bags”. The police are still searching for the women.

. Oregon: 9 people have been accused of stealing more than $102,000 from local supermarkets. The two main methods of theft these thieves used: “Booster Bags’ and “Push Outs”.

. Arizona: A few years ago, five people were arrested for allegedly using specially designed pants (booster pants) to steal from drug stores throughout the area. They stole more than $30,000 worth of merchandise by using “booster pants”, as described by the police.

So what can retailers do to limit their vulnerability to thieves using “Booster Bags”?

– Laws: Work with State Legislators to pass laws that make the simple possession of an anti-shoplifting countermeasure devices a felony. The state of Florida has such a law (Florida Statute 812.015(7)).

– Technology: Several security providers offer booster-bag detection devices which send an alert (visual and/or audible) to store management when a foil lined bag is detected entering the store.

– Education/Customer Service: Educate associates on the use of ‘booster-bags’, and remember shoplifters typically want and need privacy to commit their acts of theft, so take it away from them with good customer service.  $

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