Zip ties are increasingly being used to restrain innocent folks in home invasion and kidnapping scenarios. With a quick Google search, you’ll see a number of situations where suspects used standard zip ties from the local hardware store to restrain their victims.
We tried out all of these methods, and they all work. We even did it with the heavy duty variety, rated at 175 lbs. With a little bit of practice, it’s actually fairly easy to escape from zip ties, and you should be well-prepared should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being illegally restrained by a home invader or other criminal with zip ties.
1. Present your hands to your captor with fists clenched and palms facing down. Doing this makes your wrists bigger and creates room to slip out.
2. After the tie is tightened, unclench, turn your wrists so they’re facing inward, and work your way out. It may be tight, but the key is to just get your thumb out first. This method can be used from a variety of hand positions, and should be tried first.
Breaking zip ties
1. Tighten zip ties as much as you can with your teeth and try to make sure the locking mechanism is between your hands. The tighter the zip tie, the easier it is to break.
2. Lift hands above head and bring them down quickly into your stomach. Your elbows should flare out like chicken wings, and you should simulate trying to touch your shoulder blades together. With that, the ties should break at their weakest point — the locking mechanism.
1. Defeat the mechanism of the zip tie with some kind of shim. If you look closely at a zip tie, you’ll see it has a small locking bar that does all the work. If that bar is lifted from the tracks of the zip tie, it can be easily removed.
2. You can use a variety of objects to lift that locking bar: a fingernail, a pin, even a credit card. Once a credit card. Once the bar is lifted, simply pull the tie out of the locking mechanism. This method is easier with multiple people held captive to help each other, but can be done on one’s own as well.
The folks over at ITS Tactical have a great series of videos on how to escape from zip ties that, with their permission, we based this illustrated guide on.
Illustrated by Ted Slampyak.