What are InVue detacher keys?

Let’s distinguish between the many different types of InVue keys and the specific types of products they open: For each key type, hyperlinks will take you to an image of the relevant product.

  • The OneKEY detacher is used mainly by big box retailers, and is designed to be affixed to the countertop at the register. It decouples all OneKey Package Protection Products such as Package Wraps, Safers, Cable Locks, Padlocks and Bottle Caps. These products are impervious to magnets, which is why InVue claim they have a higher level of security.
    Image of hand holding the OneKey Detacher
  • The IR3 Key (previously the IR2 Key), which is similar to the OneKEY detacher (in that it opens the same range of security products), is the portable solution to the OneKEY ecosystem. It’s a programmable key that opens all the products mentioned above, plus phone and tablet docking stands, tethered display docks, as well as display cabinets and secured fixtures. The key can be programmed to work at specific locations, and can be deactivated by the store if the key goes ‘missing’.
    Close up image of InVue IR3 Key
  • OM Key: An innovative key that has a unique orthogonal magnet shape which provides a perpendicular force not achievable by regular magnetic detachers. This item was covered in detail in this previous post.
    Image of hand holding the OM Key Detacher and StopLok
  • CT Key: A unique secure code is programmed into this electronic key which prevents it from being used at other locations.
    Image of the InVue CT key

An important point here is that the IR3 and IR2 Keys are synced with, and can only be reactivated on, the programming station that was used to activate the key initially. This means if you manage to get your hands on one of these keys, and try to insert it into another store’s programming station to refresh it, it will not be activated. They are also deauthorised after charging. The only way to get either of these keys working is to ensure they are brand new and never activated. You’ll then be able to sync it once with any programming station.

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Who exactly are InVue, and why are some of their previous products, like the S3 HandKey, associated with different brand names? Well, they did indeed patent the S3 range of products, but in 2007 Alpha Consumer Products, as they were previously known, sold the S3 product line to Checkpoint Systems. They then reformed their company as InVue.to focus on handheld electronic merchandise.

Bombaster, a Russian developer of jamming and unlocking devices, claims to have developed a tool that bypasses OneKEY’s security features. This claim has not been verified by us, as we’ve not been able to test the product, but here’s a link to the video.

Furthermore, due to the current situation with Russia sanctions, any payments sent to this seller are done so at your own risk. We will update this disclaimer if we’re able to reach Bombaster directly to authenticate their claims.

InVue style OM Key

InVue OM Key FobThe InVue OM Key is a device used to open locking display hooks and stop locks (i.e. hanging merchandise). The detacher is not as well known as some of the other magnetic keys on the market, such as the S3 Handkey, as its distribution is closely guarded by InVue. Checkpoint Systems, Inc. acquired InVue in 2007, which was formerly known as Alpha Security.

According to the company, the OM (orthogonal magnet) Key generates a perpendicular force that provides a more secure interface. This means that a standard neodymium magnet, no matter how small or big, won’t work. In fact it doesn’t matter how strong the grade of magnet is because, in this case, the strength of the magnet is irrelevant.

Take a close look at the two key holes below (one at the rear, and one at the front):

InVue display hook & stop lock

You can see that the insertion points are uniquely shaped (the OM Key opens both). At the rear of the display hook the OM Key releases the locking mechanism from the wall (or slat-board), so that the entire hook can be repositioned (or removed). Toward the front of the display hook, the OM Key inserts into the stop lock, and allows the user to remove it, along with the desired number of items from the display. Stores that already have their own display hooks can use the stop lock device by itself, because it prevents merchandise being removed while in place.

One thing to point out here, is that the InVue stop locks pictured further above are not the same as a stop lock without an insertion point (as shown here). Standard stop lockThe red stop lock in this image can be easily opened with a Pocket Detacher because it doesn’t contain any special aspects to its design, and works much like a normal security tag. We tested the OM Key on this type of stop lock and it didn’t work, simply because it wasn’t as strong as the Pocket Detacher. So, it seems its use is limited to a specific design purpose.

OM Keys aren’t widely available, but we tracked down a generic version from a store at Tag-It! Security. Cost is US$49.95, plus shipping. The package from this vendor was shipped from the United States, and took about five days to arrive.

InVue stop locks are also used to secure shelf anchors (passing a wire through each piece of merchandise), as demonstrated in the last step of this video:

15,000GS universal magnetic Cone SuperLock Detacher

The stronger the magnet, the more quickly and easily you will be able to remove security tags. So if you’ve ever been stuck in a situation where your magnetic detacher doesn’t perform in a timely fashion, it might be time for you to invest in a device that’s guaranteed to be in the 15,000+ Gauss range. Not every tag needs a detacher this powerful, but as manufacturers continue to evolve and make stronger security tags, this might be the right choice for the future.

Naturally, more powerful magnets come at a greater cost but, relatively speaking, there’s not a huge difference. The 15,000GS Cone SuperLock Detacher sold by Detacher Co. comes at a price of US$124.95, shipped. That’s about US$25.00 more than a detacher rated with 12,000GS. It’s 500 grams (1.10lb.) in weight, has a diameter of 75mm (2.95in), and a height of 40mm (1.57in).

The extra power comes from the larger, higher grade, inner neodymium magnets. From the design, we can also tell that the head of the magnet sits flush against the top of the alcove, giving it greater proximity to any hard tag that is placed on top. And if you look even closer, you will notice a subtle crater that surrounds this area. Reason being, it adapts the device to clam shell (or ‘golf’) tags that have the same shape. Basically, this means you get the best of both worlds because it doesn’t matter whether your tags are round, dimpled, cone shaped, or whatever.

Is there anything this detacher doesn’t open? Short answer; yes, it doesn’t open SuperTags… But you should be aware by now that this post is discussing RF (not AM) security tags. This is because pretty much all RF tags are magnetic based, and need a strong magnetic force to open them. Conversely, Sensormatic SuperTags, which are acousto magnetic (AM) in design, require a Sensormatic Hook to open – and the hook is a key – not a magnet.

Check out the video below where this detacher is tested, opened up and dismantled..

Mini Pocket Detacher

Mini Pocket DetacherOne of the newer products to come onto the tag removal market is the mini Pocket Detacher. There are a lot of questions being asked about this device, so we’ll attempt to address some of those here. Basically, it’s a portable magnetic detacher that’s opens most (but not all) types of RF tags. Even though the magnetic force is not as powerful as the Golf SuperLock Detacher (FX7), it measures a tiny 58mm (2.3″) in height, with a 22mm (0.9″) diameter, making it much smaller and easier to carry. It weighs about 200 grams (about 0.5lbs), and is reported to measure between 5,000 and 6,000 Gauss.

First off, let’s take a look at a YouTube video which demonstrates some of the security tags this little pocket rocket can remove:

There is clearly a certain degree of trade-off with this product in terms of its portability versus the strength of the magnet. The video shows that it’s not as easy to remove the pins from some of the tags, and it does not work at all on the larger golf-type (rounded) security tags. However, it seems the technique to open some of the tags (by using a light tap when placed onto the magnet) can benefit in the aid of its removal.

Where did the product originate?

We tried to find out who invented this device, mainly because it doesn’t seem like the type of product Checkpoint Systems (manufacturers of RF based security systems) would supply to the market, as it makes it easy for shoplifters to defeat some of their security tags. SenTech appears to be one of the first to market with a device called the ‘hand-held magnetic detacher, with black lanyard‘. It’s not the same product as the mini Pocket Detacher, but the concept is along the same lines of what is trying to be achieved. One of our industry contacts supplied us with correspondence they made with a Chinese manufacturer of EAS goods, at which point they were trying to negotiate an arrangement for production of a similar device. While we can’t confirm this, after those negotiations failed, it seems that the Pocket Detacher was released only a number of months after this occurred. So, we theorise that the device may have stemmed from the interception of somebody’s intellectual property.

How much does it cost?

Detacher Co. sells the Pocket Detacher at around US$50, plus shipping, it costs less than a standard magnetic detacher, but because of its small size it might be easy to lose. For this reason make sure you loop a lanyard in the small hole located on the device. Also, due to the relatively powerful magnet, it’s best not to use the hole for attaching to a key ring, or any other metal object. It does include a screw-off cap to cover the internal magnet, but the magnetic field can still penetrate this.

Alpha S3 Handkey

[Content updated September 27, 2015 – see the comments section further down]

The Alpha S3 Handkey was once a well guarded, enterprise-level device in which Alpha (a division of Checkpoint Systems, Inc.) successfully prevented mainstream use by way of restricting resale to authorised vendors. This has since changed, however, as the public domain began to share information about the device’s components, enabling it to be broken down, reverse engineered, and eventuallyThis diagram shows the layout of magnets similar to those found in the handkey exploited for all to see. Now, it is possible to purchase no-name replicas of the product, or even make one at home by obtaining instructions on how to make a do-it-yourself handkey.

DISCLAIMER: The diagram shown here is not intended to divulge the intellectual property of Checkpoint Systems, Inc. or any of its subsidiaries. The authors intend only to inform visitors to this site of how generic magnetic handkeys could be constructed at home, and no inference to illegal activity in the use of such a device is made herewith.

TagRemovers.com has been able to obtain documents which show that Sand & Sebolt, LPA acts on behalf of Checkpoint in relation to their patent and intellectual property matters. We understand that, from time to time, their patent attorneys attempt to make contact with unauthorised resellers of this item with a cease a desist notice. Initially this may have been an effective solution, but in recent years the proliferation of generic S3 handkeys that have become available, has forced Checkpoint to rethink its strategy. Over time, this had led to the creation of self-alarming security tags and cables which emit an audible beep when they are detached. We will cover these in a later blog post.

So what types of security devices does the Alpha S3 Handkey open?

In our next blog post we’ll cover the infamous booster bag. We recommend that you register on our site to stay informed of future articles about security tag removers and all things allied. Also, feel free to leave a comment or provide feedback to any of our blog posts. We will keep growing until we become the definitive source for information on tag removal. Join us while we’re still young…

Golf SuperLock Detacher (FX7)

Golf SuperLock Detacher FX7The Golf SuperLock Detacher (FX7) is a powerful magnetic detacher that is capable of discoupling most types of Radio Frequency (RF) tags on the market today. The detacher is designed to be placed on the countertop, in the point-of-sale area, and secured from the base (there are multiple holes underneath for this purpose). It is approximately 71mm in diameter (2.8in), weighs about 400g (14oz) and is just small enough to be portable. Watch a demonstration video here.

With 12,000 to 15,000 Gauss (GS), this product is one of the most powerful detachers available. Guass is the unit of magnetic field strength measured from the surface. It is important to know because security tags cannot be opened with just an average magnet. In fact, some types of security tags cannot be opened with anything less than 10,000 GS. The shape of the FX7 is also important because it allows for placement of ‘clamshell‘ (or ‘golf’) hard tags flush against its surface. With indented magnetic detachers, clamshell tags are not nested completely and, therefore, lose a margin of their field stength.

The material of the SuperLock Detacher is constructed of an outer aluminium coating. Inside are several neodymium magnets (rare earth magnets) that are glued together as one piece in the shape of a cross. These neodymium magnets are prone to finding the closest piece of metal to attach itself to, and can be dangerous to handle. Here’s a link to a video of the detacher being opened up and dismantled to reveal the inside components.

Median prices of this product range between US$79.95 to US$99.95, plus shipping. Similar to other items in the industry, there are a number of knock-offs available. These are mostly cheap imports made in China. The main problem with these is, firstly, they lack the same nagnetic field strength and, secondly, they lose their magnetic force more quickly, eventually degrading to the point when they are no longer able to unpin a security tag. Visually, it’s hard to tell the difference between an authentic product and the imitation. Generally though, like with other electronics, anything that you find that is ridiculously cheap is probably not the real deal.

Check out our Vendor Reviews for some recommended websites where you can purchase this item. And if you have an item that you want us to research, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll schedule it for an upcoming blog post.

Sensormatic Hook (Detacher Hook Key)

Sensormatic hook (detacher hook key)The Sensormatic hook is probably the most famous of all detaching devices, mainly because it is inexpensive, durable and small enough to fit in one’s pocket. Sensormatic designed this tool to fit inside the larger detaching device known as the AMD-3040 Hand-Held Detacher. Despite this, it has been well known for some time that the hook works by itself, as demonstrated by several videos on YouTube. Indeed, the hand-held detacher is an easier way of guiding the hook into the correct position when inserted into the security tag, but savvy ‘shoppers’ have learnt that, with a little practice, this can be done by hand. As a result, this negates the need to purchase a large, bulky hand-held detacher.

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What types of security tags does the Sensormatic hook open? Well, it can be used to open all types of hard tags from the SuperTag family, and this includes:

  1. SuperTags I, II and III
  2. SuperTag III Lanyard
  3. SuperTag Ink
  4. Alarming SuperTag
  5. SuperTag Mini
  6. Visible Source Tag (VST)

A unique aspect of the SuperTag family is that, unlike most other types of security tags, none of them are magnetic based (meaning that none of them can be discoupled with a magnet). Reason being, Sensormatic holds a patent on the SuperTag’s locking mechanism, which consists of a pin that is connected by a rotary clamp and spring gate… This is where the Sensormatic hook comes in, because the hook contains a groove which acts as a key when inserted into that locking mechanism.

Now, before you get too excited and go and order this item, be aware that, due to the popularity of this product, it seems there has been a flood of cheap imitations hitting the market. The median price of the Sensormatic hook is around US$25 to US$35 per piece. It’s recommended that you steer clear of cheap Chinese imports which are available for much less. There are several problems with these imported knock-offs:

  1. The groove in the metal is not always aligned correctly, which prevents it from working when inserted into the SuperTag
  2. They bend easily (tempered steel should not bend at all)
  3. The hook can often get stuck in the hard tag when trying to open it, and in some cases cannot be removed (the lock is precise)
  4. When you import the product, there is a risk that customs will trace it to your address causing your personal details to become compromised

Regarding the last point, in the United States it is not illegal to order this product, but the risk still remains that federal customs may be aware that you have imported the item. Subsequently, if something untoward were to happen at some time in the future they, and any federal law enforcement agency, would know of the address you had this item shipped to. This compromises your defence if you ever come into a situation where you are asked to justify your reasons for ordering such an item. Yet this problem can be avoided entirely when ordering from suppliers that ship within the US, so take this as a good word of advice.

Whilst on the topic of law enforcement, if someone were to be apprehended in a retail outlet with this item in their possession, there would be dire consequences. Obviously there are some people who will use it to shoplift, but the main purpose of this article is to assist people who have had security tags left on their clothing. So, if you are intent on performing illegal activities, be aware that the mere possession of this tool can result in multiple charges or felonies </disclaimer rant>.

Moving right along; there are several vendors on the Internet who sell this product to the public. A small number have been around for a while with a good reputation, while some newcomers are leaving a trail of destruction with countless unhappy reviews from disgruntled customers. See the relevant blog post where I discuss each vendor and post links to their customer reviews and satisfaction ratings.

In the next article, we’ll talk about magnetic based security tags, and how they can be overcome. The devices used to remove these types of tags are more expensive, but in the long-run they pay off because magnetic based hard tags are the most common type in the industry. If you can’t wait and want to avoid reading all of these articles, submit help ticket with an image of the security tag you want to detach, and someone will quickly respond with a solution.