How to Escape from Police Restraints

It's a movie trope as old as cops and robber's movies. The hero has been caught and cuffed and sits in the back of the police car. But the cops are busy, and so our hero is able to escape from his handcuffs or zip ties, break free and then quietly exit the car and make his getaway.

Being in a movie means, that though it's implausible, it must be still possible. A director can stretch the truth, but only so far, or the whole movie will lose credibility. You'll be happy to hear, that in reality, it is possible to escape from both the traditional police steel handcuffs and the relatively new, plastic zip ties. So, if you ever find yourself on the wrong side of the law, this article might come in handy. One thing we should point out, that it's important to choose the right moment. And also make sure that you get lots of practice, as that's the main ingredient in ensuring that the whole process goes smoothly.  

Escaping From Zip Ties

Open any camping bag or even the fridge for that matter, and you'll find some zip ties. In order to know how to undo them, you'll need to have an understanding of how they function. Being made of extremely durable nylon material, they have a number of teeth running down one side. These engage with a molded ratchet that's found on one end, within a small case-like structure. When one end is drawn through the eyehole at one end, thanks to the flexibility of the nylon, the loop can be easily pulled through in one direction but catches firmly on the teeth if pulled in the opposite way. So more movement will actually tighten the zip lock. These days, most police and security forces favor these over the traditional steel handcuffs. These plastic zip locks are thin, easy to carry, and compared to weighty handcuffs, weigh practically nothing. 

Though they may at first appear extremely strong (which they are) they are not invincible and can be broken by using force on them. One method to break them is to raise your hands above your head (assuming you're cuffed from the front) and bring them down sharply and with all your might so they strike your upper abdomen, whilst at the same time you're pulling your arms apart at the elbows. The lock will break provided you use enough force and speed but be warned, it will cut into your wrists.

There are a couple of other methods for escaping zip ties that don't rely on brute strength. The first is probably the most obvious and it's to reverse deconstruct the zip-locking mechanism itself. if you slid a thin piece of material into the locking mechanism then you can flatten the part that comes into contact with the teeth and the loop will simply pull through as there's nothing to hinder it anymore. You could use a paper clip (as they always seem to do in the movies) or a hair clip or even your fingernail if it's long enough.

Although it might be time-consuming, the other option is to cut the by "sawing" then onto a sharp edge. This is another common movie trope, though in reality there may not be any sharp edges around. But you can use your shoelaces. if you can undo a shoelace, then pass it through between your wrists so that it's resting on the zip tie material. If you ake a small loop at each end, just large enough to get your foot into, then use your feet in a see-saw motion, working the shoelace back and forth over the zip tie. The fiction will cause the nylon to heat up and the material will fail and break. Remember to do up your shoes before you escape!

Escaping From Handcuffs

It's incredible to think that the locking mechanism on handcuffs hasn't changed since their invention in 1912. Maybe it's a case of if it's not broken then why fix it. A pair of steel handcuffs can have either a single or a double locking echanism. Let's have a look at the single lock first. Just like in all the movies, the hero makes his/her escape thanks to a paperclip or hairpin. For once, the movies actually do get this bit right. The locking mechanism of a single locking pair of handcuffs is incredibly easy to open. Anything you can shape to the most rudimentary "key" will do the job, quickly and efficiently. 

If you take a piece of wire, place it inside the keyhole, then bend it to approximately 70 degrees. Then repeat the process using some of the wire a bit further back from the end. You should end up with a piece of wire that looks like a wavy line. You need to insert this into the lock so that it runs beside the teeth. There's a simple locking device that presses onto the teeth. Your job is to lift this locking mechanism, allowing the toothed part of the handcuffs to open without the teeth having anything to catch on. It will quickly be apparent just how the lock functions and what you'll need to do to counter this. Be paient and you'll get there. Keep in mind that with practice, many magicians can open handcuffs within seconds.

The makers of the handcuffs claim that the double lock is tamper-proof. But we all know that's a load of baloney. With the double lock, there's a spring that travels in the opposite direction of the handcuffs travel, taking the toothed bar with it. With the double lock, there are actually two separate locks, and you caught look at each one as a single lock. The first one is a little more difficult but once complete, then the second lock is just another single lock, with the same primitive mechanism that's found in all single-lock handcuffs. 

Take your lock-pick and insert it into the top part of the keyhole. Point it the opposite way you would if you were picking a simple single lock. So you'll need to turn the pick in the same direction as a key would turn in the lock. You'll need a fair amount of pressure on it, but with some luck, the pick will press the bar onto the double lock. Once the double lock is released, then all that remains is the single lock. 

Finally, let's have a look at how you can prepare yourself if you think that you're going to be facing the possibility of being restrained. The first is to insert a small handcuff key through your bootlace. Tuck it into the inside edge of your boot, and it won't be noticeable and has pretty much zero chance of being detected. make sure you practice these "tricks" with someone present at all times.