Saturday, January 06, 2007

An Alien Chip?

For about a year and a half, I have had a perplexing mystery that I just couldn't solve. Whenever I would enter or leave particular stores, their alarm systems would go off. In particular, the worst ones were Walgreens, Target, and Barnes & Noble.

This problem has been more of an annoyance than anything else. The store personnel, if they notice at all, usually say something like, "It's okay. It's probably your cell phone." Well, I guess if someone does steal something they can just blame the alarm on their cell phone.

One day at Walgreens, I left my cell phone, took of my shoes, left my security badge from work, and did everything I could think to do that might tell me what was setting off the alarms, all to no avail. My wife got to the point of being so embarrassed that she would not enter or leave at the same time as I did. She even jokingly said I must have had an alien abduct me and place a chip inside me. I had thought maybe it was my dental work, but my dentist said it couldn't be that either.

Thursday was the final frustration. I went into Barnes & Noble, and of course, the alarms started beeping. Then upon my purchase of two magazines, I left the store, and again..."BEEP BEEP BEEP". This time, a manager called out, "Sir, could you please come back!". So, I turned around, and he said, "Sir, I know you beeped coming in, but I need to see your receipt." So, I showed him the receipt, and he said, "Sorry for the inconvenience. I just had to check."

So, enough is enough! I related the story to my wife who vowed to get to the bottom of it. She did what I should have done a year and a half ago, and searched the Internet for answers. One blog she came across related a similar tale, and people were commenting on similar experiences. Some said that The Gap and Old Navy sew a sensor inside the seams of their clothing that would set off alarms if not deactivated. Fine, but I don't have any clothes from either of these establishments. Another person related how the problem had occurred after the purchase of a new wallet, and that they had found an anti-theft tag hidden inside it.

Alarms go off again, but this time in my head. Could it be that simple? I had bought the wallet I was using about a year and a half ago. SO, I empty my poor old overstuffed wallet down to the bare leather, and started probing inside. BINGO! Stuck with some kind of sticky adhesive was a bar code label deep inside one of the slots. I pull it off the leather, and on the back is a printed circuit used for anti-theft systems!

I have recently bought a new wallet, but had not made the transfer, and luckily so, or I may never have figured out what was going on. I got the new wallet, searched it for alarm tags and found none, and made the switch, as the tag left a sticky residue on the old one.

I have to say, I have not yet tested this by going into one of the stores that were a problem. However, I think this is the culprit. I will bring this little irritant to one of them and test it out, but I suspect my beeping days are over. Although I would never do it, the mischievous side of me had the thought of bringing it into Barnes & Noble and dropping it in some poor unsuspecting woman's purse when she was not looking!

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