Introduction: How to Remove Security Tags Without Making a Mess
This instructable is not meant to help you remove store security tags from something that you might have stolen or otherwise acquired in an unethical manor. So if that is why you are looking at this then don't read it.
I know, it won't do any good to say it, but I tried -----
I found myself in this predicament through the error of a sales clerk. I found a really good deal on some pants, $4.97 for $58 dollar pants and I bought a few pairs, well, more than a few. At this price I don't mind wearing them to cut wood or work on cars and fashion doesn't mean anything to deer. So I got an arms full of them. I went through the checkout and the clerk removed the tags as she rang them up. What neither of us realized was someone had put multiple tags on the pants. One pair even had 3 tags on them I found out. I discovered the problem as I was stuffing them in the washer. Now one solution would have been to take them back to the store with the receipt and have them remove the extra security tags. Except the store was 300 miles away. Oh well. A new challenge, remove the things with out doing to much damage.
Oh, and I never noticed an alarm going off when I left the store so that must not have been working, I never gave it a second thought. It would have been nice if it had because then we could have found the extra tags.
Step 1: Tool Time
The design of these is actually very clever. The plastic dome spins around so if you try to use a knife on it it will just spin and you will likely stab yourself. Likewise trying to use pliers or some similar tool doesn't work because it just slips off the dome. If you tried to saw it with a hand saw, again it would just spin around. And if you pry it off, well that is when the ink comes into play.
However it proved to be no match for the Dremmel cutting wheel. The cutter slices into the plastic with no trouble. Because its pretty high speed the dome spinning is not a problem either. The process goes pretty fast. Cut all the way around the dome so you can remove the top. Inside is a plastic cap that retains the locking mechanism. The first one I did I used the Dremmel to cut it open which is what the pictures show. The next one I used my wire cutters and just cut the plastic top off.
Under the plastic cap is a spring and a metal piece with 3 little balls in it. This is what holds the pin that goes through the fabric tight. The spring allows the balls to move out when the pin is inserted but then it grabs and holds it once the pin is in place. You need to remove the cap and balls. Once that is done the bottom part of the security tag can be removed safely.
It helps to have some long nose pliers to remove the cut pieces of plastic as the Dremmel cutter works. It heats the plastic up from the friction and melts it so the cuts are a little jagged. As long as you don't pull on the pin you have no chance of setting the dye loose.
Step 2: Defused
Once you pull the top off you can safely remove the dye part from the other side. Just pull it out of the fabric.
The mechanism of the dye release is pretty simple. There are 2 glass capsules held in place in the plastic base. The pin serves as the "hammer" and rests on the glass. When the pin is pulled hard, it breaks the glass and the dye comes out.
I thought after looking at this that it would be fun to put one in liquid nitrogen and hit it with a hammer. That would be one way of getting them off.
I read that some people have put them in the freezer to freeze the dye and then just pull them apart white it is frozen. I suppose that would work but any frozen dye coming into contact with the fabric would leave a stain. Better to just cut them off the way I showed you.
On the fun side it would make for an interesting T shirt to write something like "I went to the mall and this is all I got away with" and then break a few of the dye capsules in the shirt.
I thought of doing an instructable one too with an Instructables T shirt --- "Things don't always go as planned" and then add some dye but all the T shirts I have won have been dark colored, Dye won't show up to good against black. Maybe that is why they use the dark colored ones.