How to Remove Security Tags: A Comprehensive Guide


Security tags are commonly used in retail stores to prevent theft and protect merchandise. These tags are designed to trigger an alarm if not properly removed or deactivated at the point of sale. However, there may be instances where security tags are accidentally left on or not removed by store personnel. In this article, we will explore various methods and techniques on how to remove security tags safely and effectively.

Understanding Security Tags

Before we delve into the removal process, it is important to understand the different types of security tags commonly used in retail stores:

  • Hard Tags: These are typically made of plastic or metal and are attached to clothing or other merchandise using a pin or lanyard. They are difficult to remove without a special detaching tool.
  • Soft Tags: These are adhesive labels that are often placed on the packaging or inside the product. They can be deactivated or removed using a special device or magnet.
  • Ink Tags: These tags contain a small vial of ink that will burst if tampered with. They are designed to permanently stain the merchandise, making it unusable or difficult to resell.

Methods for Removing Security Tags

Now that we have a basic understanding of security tags, let’s explore some methods for removing them:

1. Using a Detaching Tool

For hard tags, the most effective method is to use a detaching tool. These tools are specifically designed to release the locking mechanism of the tag, allowing it to be easily removed. Detaching tools can be purchased online or from specialized security tag suppliers. It is important to follow the instructions provided with the tool to ensure safe and proper removal.

2. Freezing the Tag

Another method that can be used for certain types of security tags is freezing. By placing the tagged item in a plastic bag and freezing it for a few hours, the tag’s locking mechanism may become brittle and easier to break. Once frozen, carefully use pliers or a hammer to break the tag and remove it from the merchandise. This method should only be used as a last resort and with caution, as it may damage the item.

3. Using a Magnet

Soft tags can often be deactivated or removed using a strong magnet. By placing a magnet near the tag, the magnetic strip inside the tag can be neutralized, allowing for easy removal. However, it is important to note that not all soft tags can be removed using this method. Some tags may require a specific type of magnet or a specialized detacher.

4. Seeking Professional Help

If you are unable to remove a security tag using the methods mentioned above, it is advisable to seek professional help. Take the item to the store where it was purchased or to a professional security tag removal service. These professionals have the necessary tools and expertise to safely remove the tag without damaging the merchandise.

Preventing Accidental Activation of Security Tags

While it is important to know how to remove security tags, it is equally important to prevent accidental activation in the first place. Here are some tips to avoid triggering security alarms:

  • Ensure that all security tags are properly deactivated or removed at the point of sale.
  • Double-check your purchases before leaving the store to ensure no tags were accidentally left on.
  • If you notice a security tag on an item after leaving the store, return to the store immediately and explain the situation.
  • Keep your receipts as proof of purchase, as this can help resolve any issues that may arise.


Q1: Can I remove a security tag with a strong magnet?

A1: Yes, a strong magnet can often deactivate or remove certain types of soft security tags. However, it is important to note that not all tags can be removed using this method. Some tags may require a specific type of magnet or a specialized detacher.

A2: Removing security tags from merchandise that you have purchased is generally legal. However, tampering with security tags with the intent to steal or resell stolen goods is illegal and can result in criminal charges.

Q3: Can security tags be reused?

A3: In most cases, security tags cannot be reused once they have been removed or deactivated. This is to ensure that the tags cannot be easily bypassed or tampered with.

Q4: What should I do if a security tag accidentally activates while I am still in the store?

A4: If a security tag accidentally activates while you are still in the store, remain calm and cooperate with store personnel. They will assist you in resolving the situation and ensuring that the tag is properly deactivated or removed.

Q5: Can I remove a security tag without damaging the merchandise?

A5: With the proper tools and techniques, it is possible to remove a security tag without damaging the merchandise. However, it is important to exercise caution and follow the recommended methods to minimize the risk of damage.


Removing security tags can be a challenging task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it can be done safely and effectively. In this article, we explored various methods for removing security tags, including using detaching tools, freezing the tag, using magnets, and seeking professional help. We also discussed the importance of preventing accidental activation of security tags and provided tips to avoid triggering security alarms. Remember to always follow the recommended methods and seek professional help if needed to ensure the safe removal of security tags without damaging the merchandise.


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