How to Break Out of Zip Ties

While I hope that you never have a need to use this information in a real-life situation, it is always a good idea to prepare ourselves as we never truly know what life holds for us. We wrote previously about escaping from duct tape and today we want to look at how to break free from zip ties.

Depending on where you live in the world, kidnapping can either rarely happen or be of serious concern but even in places where it rarely happens (even if it has never happened) it CAN happen and the figures show that it is rising.

In the US, by the end of March this year there had been 4,591 recorded kidnappings. Compare this to the 3,198 in 2002/03. The lowest year between the two was in 2012/13 where there were 1,388 recorded kidnappings.

Year Number of recorded kidnappings
02/03 3,198
03/04 3,141
04/05 2,814
05/06 2,799
06/07 2,367
07/08 1,991
08/09 2,035
09/10 1,860
10/11 1,717
11/12 1,516
12/13 1,388
13/14 1,728
14/15 2,187
15/16 3,007
16/17 3,853
17/18 4,591

In the US, a child goes missing or is abducted every 40 seconds. There are more than 460,000 missing children each year. Of those missing children, almost 1,500 of them are kidnapped.

They must understand that the figures that get published are only, and can only ever be estimated as a large amount go unreported.

Zip ties are commonly used as a method of restraint by criminals due to the fact that they are incredibly easy to acquire and hard to break. When restrained, the common response is to wriggle and try to work your wrists out of the zip ties but this can not only lead to you cutting yourself but can also lead to the zip ties tightening even further.

Try to Slip Out

Because criminals will usually put restraints on somebody in a hurry, they can sometimes make slight errors that you can use to your advantage. The first method is to see if you can actually slip your wrists out. To do this, start by turning your wrist so that they face inwards and then try to work them out. Start by trying to get your thumb out first, and then your fingers. By turning your wrists inwards, you may be able to create enough space to get your wrists free.

Beat the Locking Bar

If the above option doesn’t work but you can get hold of something small enough to get to the mechanism (credit card, pin, etc), you may be able to lift the locking bar from the track of the zip ties allowing you to make your escape.

The construction of zip ties is pretty easy. They are normally made of nylon, have a flexible tape section with teeth that engage with a pawl in the head to form a ratchet so that as the free end of the tape section is pulled the cable tie tightens and does not come undone. As long as you can lift that pawl from the teeth, you are free.

Break Them

I am unsure as to who first brought this method to light but I first read it by EX-CIA officer Jason Hanson.

If you read our guide to escaping from duct tape, you already pretty much know the drill. This method will only work if your hands are restrained in front of you. In order to break free from the zip ties, follow the next three steps.

  1. Start by reaching your arms out in front of you as far as you can and hold your forearms as tightly as possible.
  2. Work the zip tie so that the locking mechanism is between your hands as close to the middle as possible.
  3. Raise your hands up above your head, and in one sharp movement, pull them down and to the sides.

As long as you can apply enough pressure to the lock you can bring it down on any object such as your knee or the edge of a table. If you would rather see it in action via video, the Crazy Russian Hacker has a good video that can be seen below.