Help me set my vodka free!
January 21, 2008 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I bought a 750mL bottle of Vodka from Safeway. The cashier forgot to remove the black plastic security alarm topper from it. Boo!

It's an electric alarm, made by Alpha Security Products. The drawing suggests loud noises. It is about 2 inches tall, 1.5" diameter, and cylindrical. It spins freely around the bottle neck, but is restrained from liftoff.

How do I remove it, without breaking the bottle or the peace and quiet I am currently enjoying?

I *could* drive back to the store, but I *really* don't want to. There's got to be another way!

posted by iamkimiam to Food & Drink (28 answers total)
How big is it? In order to make noise, I'm guessing it has to have a battery. And in order to make a loud noise for a long time, it has to have a big battery.
posted by Dec One at 12:38 PM on January 21, 2008

Best answer: From everything google has shown me in the last 3 minutes, the protector itself doesn't have anything that's gonna make noise. Rather, it has an RF chip that (should have) set off the alarms at the door.

This means that if you're really set in your desire to not just have it taken off the right way, you can break the sucker off without your peace being disturbed any more than prying a fitted cap on the end of a glass bottle might cause.
posted by phredgreen at 12:38 PM on January 21, 2008

Best answer: If the picture at the top of this page matches the security cap on your bottle, order one of the removal tools pictured at the bottom.

It costs $55, and will likely take a week or so to arrive, but you won't have to drive back to the store.
posted by davey_darling at 12:38 PM on January 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


A bottle security device includes an inner member, an outer member and a cap member that cooperate to lock the bottle security device on the neck of a bottle. The inner member includes a plurality of fingers that are adapted to fit under the bead on a bottle neck. The cap member and the outer member are connected to form an enclosure therebetween which houses a locking mechanism. The outer sleeve member of the device slides over the inner member and forces the fingers against the bottle neck. Pins are connected to the inner member and extend into the locking mechanism to lock the inner and outer members together when the inner member is inserted in the outer member. A magnetic key is used to separate the two pieces and release the security device from the bottle. The key attracts a portion of the locking mechanism to disengage the mechanism from the pin.

fiddle around with some magnets and see if you can work it off.
posted by phredgreen at 12:41 PM on January 21, 2008

Best answer: Soak in in the sink for 5 or 10 minutes to prevent it from getting up to any electronic shenanigans. No guarantee you'll be able to get the cap off, physically, without breaking the bottle, though. You'll have to weigh the possible loss of the entire bottle vs. going back to the store, but I'd just return it.
posted by pocams at 12:41 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

When all else fails, vise grips.
posted by mphuie at 12:45 PM on January 21, 2008

I'd go back, find the manager and see if you couldn't get a $10 gift card or something as compensation.
posted by Nelsormensch at 12:47 PM on January 21, 2008

Either break the bottle or drive a hole in the (presumably thin metal) lid.
posted by fire&wings at 12:48 PM on January 21, 2008

Best answer: Most Alpha locks use magnetic clamps/clasps of some kind. If you have a magnet around that's decently powerful, try putting it against the top of the cap. If you hear kind of a click, you've got it. Hold the magnet there and then you should be able to unscrew or pull off the cap. If you don't have a magnet strong enough just lying around, you'll probably have to go back to the store.
posted by joshrholloway at 12:50 PM on January 21, 2008

Got a Dremel? That'll take just about anything off. Just take shallow passes until you can break the plastic security cap off.
posted by electroboy at 12:52 PM on January 21, 2008

Oh, and one more thing. Here's a link to what appears to be the patent for the product, again if it's the same one davey_darling posted. It does seem to confirm a magnetic locking mechanism, and also that there is no actual alarm inside.
posted by joshrholloway at 12:55 PM on January 21, 2008

heat is the enemy of magnets. i'd start by applying a propane torch (available at any hardware store and good for so many things). if that didn't work, i'd either drill down through the top or saw it off at the side.
posted by bruce at 1:23 PM on January 21, 2008

If you do have a Dremel tool, and the right kind of tips for it, you should be able to cut the neck off the bottle.

(I think what everyone is telling you is, "Drive back to the store.")
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:25 PM on January 21, 2008

Best answer: Given my fairly significant whiskey habit, I see these a lot when I go shopping, and I even asked the checkout gal about them. As it turns out, all you need is two small flathead screwdrivers. Stick'm in the holes, twist, and it comes right off (I havent tried this BTW - just what I was told). Otherwise maybe use a hammer after placing your bottle on a layered soft towel to keep the impact from breaking the neck. They are not complicated devices. A hacksaw would probably work too - on the plastic, not the glass.

Or, you know, just go back to the store. Bring your receipt.
posted by elendil71 at 1:37 PM on January 21, 2008

Oooh, or a bolt cutter! That would snap that plastic cap off lickety-split and probably be fun to do too!
posted by elendil71 at 1:39 PM on January 21, 2008

Champagne Sabre!
posted by GuyZero at 1:50 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fuck no as far as the sabre. The positive pressure of the gases in a sealed champagne bottle is what keeps you from gulping down glass slivers. There is no such pressure in a bottle of vodka, so you have nothing protecting you from eating glass shards.
posted by NortonDC at 1:55 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Call the store. Clothing / department stores will usually send someone right away to your house to remove the security tag.
posted by the cake is a pie at 2:48 PM on January 21, 2008

Response by poster: I'm trying to avoid (myself or anybody else) driving somewhere...waste of gas. I like the idea of being crafty and figuring out how to do this myself (plus I'm just plain irritated by this failed "security measure" and do NOT want to go back to the store; it's packed and raining today and so one trip is truly enough). I will conquer this vodka fortress, then I will have a drink.

I'm going to go try many of the great suggestions above. Thanks people!

(update t/k)
posted by iamkimiam at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2008

Best answer: This has happened to me. Use four long screwdrivers, each inserted into one of the four slots in the lid. Took two of us to manuever them just so, but it came off, saved us the trip back to the store.
posted by sourwookie at 3:45 PM on January 21, 2008

Response by poster: Well, after some soaking, some scoring (sadly, with dullest blade EVAR), lots of prying, a (now-empty) half-bottle of wine, all monitored by watchful eye of two hungry cats, victory is mine. There's your drunk update.

(The hardest part was finding four items that could double as flathead screwdrivers.)
posted by iamkimiam at 4:07 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow, you guys all helped a thief remove a anti-theft device.


They don't set off alarms, they are just deterrents. I have spent many a hour trying to get them on correctly. We had the keys to them bolted to the checkstands with airline cable and it only took 2 days for someone to come along and snip 3 of them off and take them home.

It's a goldmine for Alpha Security though, you don't really "buy" them you "lease" them from the company and they come and take an inventory and charge the store for any missing ones. Each key has a unique serial number and everything.

Also, the same key will unlock the anti-theft devices that Best Buy uses.
posted by M Edward at 9:13 PM on January 21, 2008

Response by poster: Believe me, if I had stole that instead of paid for it, I wouldn't have bothered fucking with it for an hour on my kitchen floor. (But that victory drink sure was tasty!)

And frankly, I'm glad that the "cost" of the anti-theft device, now mutilated beyond recognition, is paid for by Safeway in violation of their "lease", and not spent in gas money and wasted time on a second trip to the store. Enough of these stupid things accidentally walking out the door and they'll realize what a dumb, useless, faux-security measure they got suckered into. And don't even get me started on the 3+1+1 crap at the airport.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:00 PM on January 21, 2008

So, having been duly chastised, I should state for the record that I was joking about using a champagne sabre to open a bottle of vodka. Yes, it would be a really, really bad idea. I hope no one took me seriously.
posted by GuyZero at 6:21 AM on January 22, 2008

Well, I normally use vodka for getting things out of their protective coverings so how about buying it a drunk?
posted by oxford blue at 6:41 AM on January 22, 2008

I'm glad you got the device off... not even a month ago, I also purchased Absolut Apeach from my local Safeway and they left it on.

I broke the bottle trying to get it off and had to drive back to the store for a replacement. I imagine you felt much more like a champion than I.

posted by Lizc at 2:52 PM on January 22, 2008

I'm a bit late to the party, but I had this problem last night. Going back to the store wasn't an option, cause it was closed.

I was able to break the flared bottom piece out just by squeezing on it and using a screwdriver to break one it's "claws" off. However, the device still didn't come off.

I happened upon this page which said "I simply pulled up on it and it popped right off". I tried pulling earlier, so I didn't think that would work. But, after running it under water to disable the electronics, and pulling the bottom off (after I snapped it as mentioned earlier), I went ahead and pulled up on it as suggested and voila! It really did come right off.

I'm posting this in case anyone else has this problem - since that 4 screwdriver trick didn't wanna work for me.
posted by revmitcz at 12:52 PM on March 30, 2008

Response by poster: Here's a step-by-step (Flickr photoset) of how to free vodka – the hard, I-don't-want-to-go-back-to-the-story way.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:15 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

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