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New Law Aims to Foil Thieves

Denver Post Capitol Bureau

Sunday, July 01, 2001 - Foil-lined underwear made popular by clever thieves trying to outsmart detection devices will be banned in Colorado under a law that takes effect today.

The law will make it a crime to make, sell or possess such detection-shielding items, the latest rage in a thief's arsenal and one that costs retailers and shoppers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

"We liken these devices to burglary tools," said Chris Howes, vice president of the Colorado Retail Council. "If you're caught in the store with them, it's obvious they're designed to shield anti-shoplifting devices and you can be prosecuted even before anything is stolen."

The use of aluminum foil and duct tape to thwart store security monitors is growing at an alarming rate in Colorado, according to the retail council. The law will permit store security to stop people armed with tape or foil if they believe there is an intent to steal.

"We call them iron pants" because of people who have been caught with a full pair of aluminum trousers under their real ones, said Sen. Stephanie Takis, D-Aurora, Senate sponsor of the legislation. "Anyone who bothers to put those pants on are not doing it to cool down. They're a theft tool, like a crowbar."

The foil renders useless those plastic anti-theft devices clamped onto merchandise. Making, selling or possessing those foil devices would be a misdemeanor punishable by six to 18 months in jail and fines ranging from $500 to $5,000.