How to Remove an Anti-Theft Tag

Updated February 21, 2017

Store clerks sometimes forget to remove the antitheft tag on clothing. If you've lost your receipt or it's too far to drive back to the store, this article explains how to remove the antitheft tag.

Inspect the tag to determine how it is constructed. There are two basic types of security tags, which operate like a large, flat clothespin. The opened tag slips over the edge of the garment and is secured by a steel pin with a round, plastic button on one end. The button and pin are inserted through the tag and snapped to lock. One type of tag merely attaches to the garment. Another contains a small vial of ink that will permanently stain the clothing if broken.

Pry up the edge of the round button on one side of the security tag using a flat-blade screwdriver or the point of an ice pick. The button is attached to a steel pin with ridges along its length to prevent the pin from pulling out without a struggle.

Melt the round button holding the pin with a butane cigarette lighter if it will not pry up with a screwdriver. Take care not to let melting plastic spill on the clothing by holding the tag downward.

Use the wire cutters to clip the straight pin beneath the round plastic button, or use the screwdriver to pry the pin loose from the tag.

Open the tag and discard.


Shoplifting is a crime. This article is intended to assist individuals in removing security tags from clothing they have legally acquired.

Things You'll Need

  • Icepick or pocket knife with locking blade
  • Disposable lighter
  • Wire cutters
  • Thin, flat-blade screwdriver
bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article

About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.