How to Remove Security Tags Without Making a Mess





Introduction: How to Remove Security Tags Without Making a Mess

About: The name comes from the First Star Trek movie, that pretty much says it all.

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.



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    11 Discussions

    I don't see how magnets or a store tool can unlatch this S Dali paint thingy ?!

    1 reply

    It is an interesting mechanism. I believe to unlock it the store device has a large electromagnet. When the magnet is triggered and if the tag is in the correct position, it pulls the spring back a slight bit causing the balls to back off of the pin and reliving the pressure holding the pin in place. With the spring and balls held back you can simply pull the pin out with only a little force. How successful you would be using a magnet I don't know. In theory it should be possible but it would have to be a pretty powerful one and carrying one of those around in your pocket would most likely cause you a lot of problems. Having your pants stick to a display rack could be a problem. And if the magnet is not strong enough you could put to much force on the pin and break the dye capsules while trying to remove it.

    But the entire point is not to tell you how to get them off in a store so you can take stuff. It's to help you remove ones left on things by a careless clerk. For me cutting it off was/is the preferred method because I have no interest in preserving the tags but I want to take minimal risk to what I bought.

    two strong magnets normally get these off

    Now for your next instructable: How to hide alarm sensors in your friends pockets so they set off alarms everywhere they go.

    Oh this is great news! I'll try not to steal anything, but just In case I'm going to note the nearest power outlets next time I'm in a store. I hope running a dremel won't draw any unwanted attention to me due to the noise, Best not to even find out I guess.

    2 replies

    There is a battery powered Dremmel but it might look a little strange in your front pocket.

    Great info! I've had to take a jacket back to the store to get a tag taken off and it was a huge pain even though the store was less than 300 miles away. I would love to see what you end up making with the dye capsules! I love the t-shirt ideas you have so far :)

    Great instructable, though I doubt I will ever need it (well I hope I won't - sorry). It would be very interesting to know how they remove these in stores though.

    To get the balls to move back out you need a few strong magnets, I unlock the library DVD's that way all the time.

    I recognize that photo...

    Looks neat, I often get clothing with hard to remove tags and cut them off with my pocket knife!