Introduction: Quickly Remove a Store Security Tag

Picture of Quickly Remove a Store Security Tag

So my neighbor ordered some stuff online from a big chain dept store, and when it came it had a store security tag on it. She came to me and asked if I knew anything about removing it without activating the GPS module and releasing the dye pack and nerve gas. I told her I would see what I could do....two minutes later I returned unharmed with her garment in one hand and the evil device in the other fully intact. 

The purpose of this Instructable is for informational purposes only. Any use of this information for purposes other than removal of such device from a purchased garment is highly illegal and punishable by fines and jail time. 

Step 1: What You Need.

Picture of What You Need.

These mysterious devices are rather simple devices. While they can be mutilated off with a pair of snips, a screwdriver and a pair of pliers, they can be removed much easier with a high powered magnet. I used a hard drive magnet and a light touch.

The purpose of this Instructable is for informational purposes only. Any use of this information for purposes other than removal of such device from a purchased garment is highly illegal and punishable by fines and jail time.

Step 2: Set Up

Picture of Set Up

Security tags differ in shape and have various configurations but all utilize the same locking mechanism. Its a simple spring & and clip. That security device remover is nothing more than an electro magnet. Place your magnet on the table and position the tag bottom side down.

The purpose of this Instructable is for informational purposes only. Any use of this information for purposes other than removal of such device from a purchased garment is highly illegal and punishable by fines and jail time.

Step 3: The Removal

Picture of The Removal

When you place the base of the tag down on the magnet, you will hear it click. Manipulate the pin up and down and it will come out.
No muss no fuss and the tag is still fully intact. 

The purpose of this Instructable is for informational purposes only. Any use of this information for purposes other than removal of such device from a purchased garment is highly illegal and punishable by fines and jail time.

Step 4: Legal Ramifications

Picture of Legal Ramifications

Shoplifting is illegal. You can go to jail and face heavy fines. This Instructable is for informational purposes only. It is also not funny to slip a tag on your friends coat when you go to the mall...well, maybe a little.


The purpose of this Instructable is for informational purposes only. Any use of this information for purposes other than removal of such device from a purchased garment is highly illegal and punishable by fines and jail time.


LREN18 (author)2018-01-05

Most of the security tags come off with magnets like you showed. A few require a hook like this:

BruceK26 (author)2016-09-25

seriously? I have a magnet strong enough that it has a pacemaker warning and is strong enough to lift my floor jack off the floor. I see no one who this has worked for but you. I learned how to get out handcuffs quicker.

r33ver (author)BruceK262017-12-24

Just because it didn't work for you, or because the magnet you used was TOO powerful (yes, that's possible in this instance), doesn't mean in any way, shape or form that it doesn't work... It's funny, because if you actually work in a place that has the tool to remove hem, or have access to one, or order one online, you will IMMEDIATELY find it to be a powerful magnet. It's not rocket science, although... Stuff like this (magnets) is like magic to simple folk... Maybe go somewhere else and try to discredit things that are legitimate. So unfortunate. :-(

Lextone (author)r33ver2017-12-24

The perils of authoring on a public forum.

Happy holidays!

Lextone (author)BruceK262016-09-25

You created an account to leave one post on this Instructable? You sir are a troll.

BruceK26 (author)Lextone2016-09-26

No not necessarily; it was the first time I had to look something up I couldn't figure out for myself, you however are arrogant! not one comment said your system worked for them they all said it was a good idea

DanielL544 (author)2017-02-19

A good tecnique. The one I ended up using for lack of a good magnet was a 3.5 inch half serrated knife

sunrise22 (author)2017-02-17

Thanks to Lextone for this instructable. This technique worked for me. I too used a neodymium magnet from an old hard drive. Some perseverance is required - it took me about 90 seconds of trying before the pin slid out.
As Lextone says, you will know that your magnet is strong enough if you hear the mechanism clicking as you move the magnet around the end away from the pin. To perform this test, place the pin next to your ear. Move the magnet around about a quarter inch away from the other end (i.e., the base of the tag). If you do not hear any clicks then you need to find a stronger magnet.
Many of the tags I have come across have a rounded base as in the attached picture.

Lextone (author)sunrise222017-02-18

Glad you found the Instructable helpful. It does take a little patience and a strong magnet. Thanks for sharing your insight :)

Maxzf (author)2016-12-19

I have serious rare earth mags. What is the max time I should have work it before I'll know if it's one that will work at all?

Lextone (author)Maxzf2016-12-19

It will be immediately evident. When you put the magnet on the end and move it around you will hear the mechanism clicking.

You are basically picking the lock with the magnet. You have to move it around.

instructew (author)2016-12-17

I don't have a hard drive magnet. Was wondering what is the pull force of the magnet you used?

Lextone (author)instructew2016-12-19

Its a pretty strong neodymium magnet. I don't know the actual pull or gauss of it.

Lextone (author)2016-09-26

Several people said it worked if you go back and read. Others applied the magnet wrong or never actually tried to do it, so they bash it. Most are bored children. If you know anything about lock manipulation, its not magical, it's touch and feel. Shimming a set of handcuffs off is way different than picking the mechanism or shearing the swivel.

I have been a pro member here for almost 10 years. I, like others believe in the be nice policy. When people create an account just to leave a negative comment, that is, by definition, trolling. We call em like we see them. It's not arrogance, it's just the way it is.

Here's a challenge for you. If you have a better way to pic the lock, creat an Instructable and show me up. Pick it, not cutting, mutilating or smashing it, manipulate it so it can still be used for its intended purpose.

I dare you......

ZackK16 (author)2016-03-19

Translation- My friend is a shoplifter and this is how to get the tags off so you can wear your stolen gear.

V2525 (author)ZackK162016-08-14

Lol ....I stoled when I was 14 years of age. I got caught. Most embarrassing thing in my life. I never stoled again. Even tho the store didnt call the cops. So humiliating ? btw...I didnt steal for fun, my mom and two sisters were struggling back in the 80's. Learned my lesson. I never stoled again.

isa.swy (author)2015-04-25

Literally so helpful!! I bought a fur jacket from khols and the lady forgot to take the tag off. Didnt think anything of it when i beeped because sometimes they do, but when i got home and put it on i saw it. Literally ripped it off because i didnt want to go back and ripped my damn jacket :/.. so now i know if it ever happens again, a magnet. Does it matter ehich magnet??

V2525 (author)isa.swy2016-08-14

I always beep leaving Khols. Annoying and embarrassing. Bought some stuff like bras & other clothing iteams about nine months ago. I am finally taking the tags and wearing them. One of my bras had a censored. Cheap bra to wear around the house, so didnt feel like driving just for a bra. I cut it, wish I knew about the magnet thing. Curious if it would have worked.

Lextone (author)isa.swy2015-05-29

Any strong magnet will do. Neodymium magnets from a scrapped hard drive works well.

DžiugasO (author)Lextone2016-06-16

they dont i tried

campervandude (author)2015-10-12

So in theory you could open it with a mobile cell phone

Lextone (author)campervandude2015-10-12 You need a strong magnet. Unless your phone can stick to a refrigerator, it aint gonna hack it. :)

campervandude (author)Lextone2015-10-12

I was thinking that the electro magnetic radiation might be strong enough

boobbert (author)campervandude2016-06-22

Electro Magnetic Radiation (light, radar, radio, microwave, etc) are not the same as a magnetic field, though they do affect one another. Radiation can cause heating in conductive materials, whereas a magnetic field can attract ferrous materials. It's the attraction that these instructions depend on.

Lextone (author)2016-02-29

Oh, sorry Lethaldose, I misunderstood your post. And you are notcorrect. The tag shown, in all pictures pictures above, is magnetically opened. The Pictures were taken in sequence and the tag was removed with that magnet shown. Just about all security tags are operated this way. Mechanically removed tags are probably still out there, but I haven't seen them in years. Only difference in tags these days are the shape, size, dye packs and the method of setting off the alarm.

Leathaldose (author)2016-02-29

the rectangular one pictured above is not a magnet based security tag, that one has a hooked pin that pushes into the body pictured above, then clicks into two pieces of light spring steel then locks in place, the tool used to open that one is a grabs both sides off the pinch point in the image above and bends it just far enough that the hooked pin drops out from below, thus unlocking the device. The reason that pinch is there is to conceal the sharp pin that gets inserted from the bottom. However, in today's market most of these are outdated, most things have a sicker strip inside them that can be easily removed, more often then not there is an RFID chip in side that can be a bit more difficult to remove.

Lextone (author)Leathaldose2016-02-29

Your pics didn't come through. I don't believe I have ever seen one like the one you described before. You should do an Instructable.

I know there use to be one that had a sort of split ring inside. The casing had holes in the sides and three pins were inserted to release the mechanism. One hole positioned the device, one locked the ring in place and the third expanded it. Pretty cool device, but they were super easy to remove with two finishing nails.

Leathaldose (author)Lextone2016-02-29

not my picture, YOUR picture.

alarmingink (author)2015-12-09

So I got a magnet from an old hard drive but it's not working? The magnet sticks so obviously there's metal in the tag but there's no clicking noise and the pin doesn't slide out. I tried stacking four magnets to make it a stronger magnet (is that even how magnets work?) and that didn't work either.

Lextone (author)alarmingink2015-12-10

Try moving it around over the magnet. Need to manipulate the mechanism. Some tags are finicky and it takes a minute of fiddling.

alarmingink (author)Lextone2015-12-11

Hey there, so I'm still trying after 2 days haha. Question: is the magnet supposed to strongly attract to the flat end or the pointy end? (Or both?)

In your guide your magnet is on the pointy end, and while my magnet does have some weak attraction to the pointy end, the attraction to the flat end is much much stronger.

Thank you for answering so quickly last time by the way!

Lextone (author)alarmingink2015-12-12

Pointy end. Move it around, don't just stick the magnet to it.

akennedy30 made it! (author)2015-11-26

tried with a knickle size neodymium magnet and it was extremely rough, might have just been mine but it still tore my pants.

Lextone (author)akennedy302015-11-26

How did the magnet tear the pants? If done right the pin should should release and pull out with no effort.

richn328 (author)2015-10-15

Didn't have strong magnet or dremel tool, but used fine tooth hacksaw blade to cut all around the plastic cone end of tag to expose pin and metal parts inside and easily pull apart. Must hold tag carefully not to put pressure on pin or base.

Lextone (author)richn3282015-10-15

Ok, you didn't read, you just looked at pictures. I covered the fact you can mutilate these off in step one.That is the reason for this Instructable. It is the alternative to using brute force, blunt force, cutting tools, prying devices, impact implements, opposing jaw fulcrum devices, and of

The method I show here is non damaging to the garment and can be accomplished, usually, in a minute or less by anyone of any age or mechanical aptitude. It also works on tags with dye caps in them.

And I just noticed, over a half MILLION views! Holy Crap!

jnjj (author)2015-09-22

how did u take out the magnet from the hard drive

Lextone (author)jnjj2015-09-23

Had an old hard drive at old job. Policy there was to strip it down and destroy disc. So I salvaged the magnets.

Any strong magnet will work.

SophiaP1 (author)2015-05-29

Thank you sooo much, very helpful!

I literally just bought a cute shirt from kohls and the cashiere left the ink tag on. I was so sad cause I couldn't wear it. But now I can!!!

oh and btw will it leak if it doesn't work

Lextone (author)SophiaP12015-05-29

Shouldn't leak. The device they use to pop them off at the store is an electro magnet.

livefastdieyoung (author)2015-01-02

Omg I just bought a shirt and want to wear it . what hard drive are you using?

Lextone (author)livefastdieyoung2015-01-03

Any strong magnet will work.

kennedymart123 (author)2014-12-31

OMFG you are so helpful this help me a lot because i bought a shirt and i was going to wear it and didn't feel like going back to kholes and so i looked up how to take off a security tag and this helped a lot thatks

JjR2 (author)2014-12-10

Thanks!!! Fastest instructables ever... I knew it had to be electromagnetic and as soon as I saw your hard drive magnet... didn't even had to read the instructions. Saved myself a trip back to the store in this Xmas shopping season.

Lextone (author)JjR22014-12-11

You're welcome!

BeccaD1 (author)2014-08-27

Way back when, in middle school, so like late 90s, I bought a purse at the mall, but they left the sensor on and it didn't beep as I left! So I lived 40 mins away and couldn't easily go back and no local store could or would take it off for me (even with my receipt in hand). So I took a hammer to it. Took awhile and left a mark on the bag (it was a cheap one at least). I wish I had had the internet and this article back then! Now I'm better at checking to make sure tags are taken off.

tgferreira184 (author)2014-01-12

It has already happened to me a few times, but instead of going all the way back to the store I just hammer it once or twice and it will magically open (and get broken too).

Lextone (author)tgferreira1842014-01-12

Be careful, some of them have dye caps inside that will make a mess.

palombo5050 (author)2013-03-21

This is nice to know. I had a check out clerk forget to remove my tags once. I had to drive all the way back to the store, walk the half mile to location in the mall, show the receipt.... I have so many of these magnets from hard drives, I can't believe I never thought to use them like this. Great information.

babybayrs (author)palombo50502013-04-04

Same thing happened to me too. Thanks for this Instructables. No need to go back to the store next time.

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