You’re Un­likely to Sur­vive a Home In­va­sion Un­less Your Hands and Feet Are Free to Func­tion — Here’s How a Spy Does It!


Ac­cord­ing to the FBI, ap­prox­i­mately 200 home in­va­sions take place ev­ery hour in the United States, and one out of ev­ery five homes will ex­pe­ri­ence a break-in or home in­va­sion. Ad­di­tion­ally, 38 per­cent of vi­o­lent as­saults and 60 per­cent of rapes oc­cur dur­ing a home in­va­sion.

These are har­row­ing sta­tis­tics, but they don’t tell the whole story with re­spect to how most home in­va­sions un­fold. Af­ter an in­truder bursts into your house, chances are he’ll im­me­di­ately re­strain you — and your fam­ily mem­bers, if they’re home — with tape. Do an in­ter­net search for “duct-taped dur­ing home in­va­sion,” and you’ll find nu­mer­ous news sto­ries in which this has hap­pened. The head­lines should serve as a wake-up call: “77-year-old duct-taped dur­ing home in­va­sion,” “Fam­ily of 5 bound with duct tape dur­ing ter­ri­fy­ing home in­va­sion,” “Deaf cou­ple beaten, duct-taped dur­ing home in­va­sion,” “Rob­bers beat duct­taped man with pipe dur­ing home in­va­sion” and “Col­lege stu­dents duct­taped dur­ing armed home in­va­sion.”


As the news sto­ries note, duct tape is one of the most pop­u­lar ways crim­i­nals use to bind peo­ple all over the world. Why duct tape? First, it’s easy to get. Go to al­most any hard­ware, gro­cery or big-box store, and for less than $5, you can walk away with a huge roll.

Sec­ond, most peo­ple re­gard duct tape as a su­per-strong ma­te­rial that can be used to fix and hold to­gether vir­tu­ally any­thing. That’s why crim­i­nals be­lieve the per­son they just duct-taped isn’t go­ing any­where and why vic­tims men­tally give up on try­ing to es­cape when their hands and feet are taped (or when they’re bound to a chair).

The truth, how­ever, is much dif­fer­ent. There’s no rea­son any­one should be bound, tor­tured or killed be­cause of duct tape. In fact, if you ever find your­self tied up with it — whether it’s just your hands or your hands and feet — it’s rel­a­tively easy to es­cape. Do­ing so takes less than five sec­onds. That may seem hard to be­lieve, but I’ve shown folks as young as 5 and as old as 77 how to es­cape.

If, heaven for­bid, you ever find your­self in a bad sit­u­a­tion and are un­able to fight your way out, a crim­i­nal prob­a­bly will duct-tape your wrists first. He’ll make you ex­tend your arms in front of your body, af­ter which he’ll

wrap your wrists a few times. If it’s a kid­nap­ping sce­nario, he may drag you into a van or get­away ve­hi­cle. If it’s a home in­va­sion, he may start with your wrists and make his way to the rest of your body.

I’m of­ten asked why crim­i­nals usu­ally duct-tape your hands while they’re in front of your body and not be­hind your back. The most im­por­tant rea­son: It’s very dif­fi­cult to duct-tape some­one’s wrists when the hands are placed to the rear. It takes sig­nif­i­cantly more time than do­ing so when they’re in front. Crim­i­nals want to be able to bind you quickly — espe­cially if it’s a kid­nap­ping sit­u­a­tion.

An­other rea­son is it’s tough to po­si­tion a per­son’s hands close enough to­gether when they’re be­hind the back. Of­ten when it’s at­tempted, you eas­ily can lift your hands right out of the re­straint.

The third rea­son is crim­i­nals pre­fer to have com­plete con­trol over their vic­tims. When they duct-tape you from the front, they can grab your arms and drag you wher­ever they want.

Way Out

Now that you know you’ll most likely be duct-taped from the front, here’s the ex­act method you’ll want to use to es­cape in mere sec­onds.

First, raise your arms straight above your head with your palms to­gether as if you’re pray­ing. Your hands should not be at eye level; you should have to look up to­ward the sky to see them.

Sec­ond, in one fluid, light­ning-fast mo­tion, bring your arms down while pulling your hands apart and throw­ing both el­bows be­hind you. En­vi­sion try­ing to slap your hips, and you’ll get the idea. The key to this es­cape is that the mo­ment your hands start mov­ing, you must be­gin sep­a­rat­ing them. If it helps, pre­tend some­one you don’t like is be­hind you and you need to throw two rear el­bow strikes into him.

If you do these two move­ments cor­rectly, the duct tape will tear and your hands will be free. The rea­son most peo­ple are un­able to es­cape when they’re bound at the wrists is they don’t im­me­di­ately separate their hands from the pray­ing po­si­tion. In­stead, they bring their hands down to their stom­ach and then try to pull them apart. That doesn’t cre­ate the an­gle you need to break free.

Of course, merely read­ing how to ef­fect an es­cape is not enough. To build mus­cle me­mory, get a roll of duct tape, find a train­ing part­ner and take turns wrap­ping your wrists. If you en­counter any dif­fi­cul­ties, reread the in­struc­tions and study the pho­tos in this tu­to­rial. Once you’ve got it all down, it’s time to learn how to es­cape from a more se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion.

Chair Bound

A well-known record pro­ducer and his 14-year-old daugh­ter are just two of the many Amer­i­cans who’ve ex­pe­ri­enced the hor­ror of be­ing re­strained with duct tape dur­ing a home in­va­sion. What the crim­i­nals did — and what they typ­i­cally do in this kind of sce­nario — is break into the home, bind the vic­tims to a chair with duct tape and then make for the mas­ter bed­room to rum­mage through draw­ers in search of cash, coins and jew­elry.

Once they’ve ran­sacked the bed­room, they typ­i­cally come back down­stairs to where the home­own­ers are still re­strained. The worst part is, the crim­i­nals fre­quently elect to tor­ture or even kill their vic­tims.

Here’s a proven method for es­cap­ing from this predica­ment. The key is to free your­self while the crim­i­nals are up­stairs so you’re not sit­ting there help­lessly when they come back. First, for­get what you see in movies and don’t pur­pose­fully tip over in the chair or scoot back and forth across the floor. There’s no point.

In­stead, re­main still — and then jolt for­ward with your torso, putting your head be­tween your knees as if you’re try­ing to kiss the floor. To en­vi­sion

this mo­tion, imag­ine that you’re on an air­plane and you feel like you’re go­ing to throw up. Af­ter grab­bing that lit­tle white bag from the seat pocket, you’d put your head be­tween your knees to vomit. This is the ex­act move you want to use to es­cape from a chair — ex­cept that you need to do it with a lot more force. Done cor­rectly, your abrupt for­ward mo­tion will tear the tape, and you’ll be free from the chair and able to flee your house.

Worst Case

The fi­nal sit­u­a­tion in which you might find your­self comes about when a crim­i­nal de­cides not only to duct­tape your wrists to a chair but also to se­cure your an­kles. If you had the time, you could free your wrists first, then bend down and tear the tape from your an­kles. But what if you hear the crim­i­nal walk­ing down the stairs to­ward you and you know ev­ery sec­ond is a mat­ter of life and death?

A faster way to es­cape be­ing bound at the an­kles — af­ter you’ve freed your hands and stood up from the chair — is to quickly squat with your toes point­ing out­ward. Your feet should form a V-shape. With your toes at that an­gle, the tape will tear as you lower your body.

It should take less than five sec­onds to es­cape from this worst-case sce­nario. Un­for­tu­nately, most peo­ple who find them­selves in such an un­think­able sit­u­a­tion end up get­ting beaten or killed be­cause they’re over­whelmed from be­ing duct-taped es­sen­tially from head to toe. The best way to avoid that fate is to mem­o­rize the in­struc­tions pre­sented here and prac­tice un­til the moves are sec­ond na­ture. Not only are the es­capes fun “party tricks” and fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties, but they also could end up sav­ing your life one day.

Note that all the tech­niques de­scribed in this ar­ti­cle also work with other types of tape. For in­stance, you’re prob­a­bly fa­mil­iar with the Go­rilla brand that’s in­cred­i­bly strong and sticky. Even if a crim­i­nal uses Go­rilla tape, you can es­cape in less than five sec­onds. The only dif­fer­ence is that Go­rilla tape is so sticky that when you try to pull it off, your skin might rip and you could bleed a lit­tle. That’s some­thing you’ll want to avoid in train­ing, but ob­vi­ously it won’t mat­ter in a lifethreat­en­ing en­counter.


Ja­son Hanson is bound at the wrists

(1). To ini­ti­ate the es­cape, he raises his hands over­head with his palms to­gether (2), then quickly and smoothly thrusts his arms down­ward

(3) while an­gling his hands apart to rip the tape (4). Note how his fol­lowthrough leaves him in a po­si­tion that looks like he’s de­liv­er­ing two el­bow strikes to the rear (5).

DUCT-TAPED TO A CHAIR: When Ja­son Hanson is re­strained, the first thing he does is re­frain from tip­ping over or scoot­ing around the room (1). In­stead, he sits mo­men­tar­ily up­right (2) and then pitches for­ward (3-4) un­til his head is be­tween his knees (5). The lever­age gen­er­ated by his down­ward-mov­ing torso tears the tape, en­abling him to es­cape (6).

DUCT-TAPED AT THE AN­KLES: If an es­cape must start with the de­fender be­ing bound at the wrists, bound to a chair and bound at the an­kles, Ja­son Hanson ad­vises clients to first free them­selves from the chair, then separate their hands from each other as shown in the other photo se­quences. Next, he stands with his toes point­ing out­ward

(1). He be­gins squat­ting, mak­ing sure his knees move out­ward (2). The lever­age this cre­ates an­gles his lower legs away from each other, which breaks the tape (3-4).

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