Here is a collection of escape tools made by prison inmates over the decades. Let’s face it, they have a lot of time on their hands, so it’s likely they’re going to spend some of it making handicrafts.
I know we’re talking about bad people, but there’s some pretty fascinating, creative, and ingenious items here.
“Made from iron bedposts; charge made of pieces of lead from curtain tape and match-heads, to be ignited by AA batteries and a broken light bulb. On May 21, 1984 two inmates of a prison in Celle, Germany, took a jailer as a hostage, showed off their fire power by letting go at a pane of bullet-proof glass, and escaped by car.”
2) Classic Rope
“Makeshift rope in the classic style, made from bedsheets and dish towels; length: 16 meters. On May 2, 1998 two inmates used it in a failed attempt to escape from the 6th floor. One of the men fell, the other made it to the roof of the main gate where he was spotted by a surveillance camera.”
3) Immersion Heater
“Made from razor blades. Jailbirds use these tools to distil alcoholic beverages forbidden in prisons. Your typical inmate’s moonshine still includes a plastic can containing fermented fruit mash or juice, an immersion coil of some sort, a rubber hose, and a plastic receptacle for the booze.”
“Made of steel rails from bookshelves. On October 10, 1994, inmates Gerhard Polak and Raimund Albert used this ladder during their successful escape from ‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, Germany”
5) Grappling Hook
“With segmented extension rod (13 segments, overall length: 4.5 meters); rope made of leather and string. This cleverly conceived tool assisted two inmates in their escape from Ludwigsburg prison, Germany, on August 19, 1987. The attached rod enabled them to place and retrieve the hook and thus negotiate two prison walls in succession.”
“With padded handle, made from a rasp that was presumably stolen from a prison workshop. The weapon was made in 1993.”
“This instrument was found in 1997 in the metal workshop of ‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, Germany, where an unknown inmate manufactured and hid it. It is either a weapon, or, attached to a pole, might have been designed to push away barbed wire from the top of a wall during an escape.”
8) Radio Transmitter/Bug
“Made of radio recorder parts. Prisoners occasionally install gizmos like this one in guard-rooms to be prepared for upcoming cell searches. It is also suitable as a means of cell-to-cell communication among inmates. A standard radio serves as a receiver.”
9) Radio Receiver
“Sometime in the seventies an inmate of Ludwigsburg prison built this radio on the sly and hid it inside an encyclopedia. It was probably commissioned by another inmate who had no electronic expertise himself.”
“An inmate fitted a wooden handle to a piece of saw blade for better handling. The tool was found in his cell and confiscated.”
11) Dummy Pistol
“Made from blackened cardboard; found on June 23, 1988, in an inmate’s cell in Stammheim prison, Germany, after a fellow prisoner tipped off the jailers. The dummy was hidden in an empty milk pack and was most probably intended to be used for taking hostages in an escape attempt.”
12) Tattooing Needle
“Made from a toothbrush handle, a ball pen and an electric motor. Tattooing instruments are a popular and common source of income among inmates but are banned as ‘illegal objects’ due to the danger of infection (Aids, Hepatitis, etc.)
All of these items were photographed by Marc Steinmetz.
You can see the entire collection on his website here.