Everyone likes a good prison escape story. We all love Shawshank Redemption, don’t we? But what if I were to tell you, Shawshank ain’t got crap on these real life escapes? 

1. John Dillinger was dubbed Public Enemy No. 1 after escaping high security prisons twice in his life. 

John Herbert Dillinger Jr. was an American bank robber who escaped from prisons twice in his career. After robbing two banks, he was captured and imprisoned in Lima in the Autumn of 1933. There he befriended seasoned criminals who smuggled guns into the prison and escaped just four days after Dillinger’s capture.  

The group then returned to the same prison a few days later impersonating Indiana State Prison officers and released Dillinger from the jail. He was captured a year later and was sent to Crown Point Jail, a prison famous for being escape-proof. There Dillinger carved a piece of wood into a gun, took 17 men hostage with that gun and escaped again!


2.  Frank Lee Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin escaped the infamous Alcatraz using a boat made of raincoats in 1962. 

In another tale that has become a pop culture phenomenon after a film based on it starring Clint Eastwood became a blockbuster, Frank Lee Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin escaped the infamous Alcatraz on the 11th of June, 1962.

The trio did this by by digging a tunnel through a concrete wall using a spoon. They also created paper mâché dummies fit with hair from the prison’s barber used the  decoys to buy time. They then went into the water with a boat made from over 50 stolen raincoats. They were never to be seen again. 

Alcatraz Cruises

3. The Texas Seven escaped from John B. Connally Unit on 13th December, 2000 by taking 16 people hostage. 

The Texas Seven schemed an elaborate plot and took 16 people hostage, including supervisors, officers and three other inmates. They then took credit cards, IDs, clothes to be able to fit in as civilians. Four of them stayed behind to call the prison guards to distract them. The rest of them took over the guard tower, stole weapons, and a prison truck and every one of them escaped in the vehicle. 


4. Frank Abagnale escaped twice, once while he was on a plane being deported to the US and another one, a bigger grandiose escape in 1971, where he convinced everyone he was a cop. 

Frank was brought to life by Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can. The infamous con man started a life of crime as early as 15. In April 1971, he convinced the prison guards that he was an undercover inspector posing as a prisoner for a review. He kept the jig up for months. He even used an accomplice and forged a fake FBI business card identifying him as an officer of the law. 

The guards kept giving him special treatment and one fine day he just walked out of prison and everyone just let him. 

The Vintage News

5. Andrew Rodger, Keith Rose, and Matthew Williams used a ‘magic key’ to escape a UK prison.

The trio worked in a prison metal shop and used this time to memorise the outline of the prison keys and eventually made one of their own. They also made a 25-foot steel ladder and a gun, which they used to escape from prison. 

Daily Record

6. Pascal Payet, a French criminal has three successful prison escapes, all by helicopters!

The robber and convicted murderer‘s first escape came on 21st October, 2001, when his friends on the outside hijacked a helicopter and landed it on the prison roof, where he was waiting for them. He then returned to the same prison in 2003 and helped escape three more prisoners. In 2005, he was recaptured and sentenced to 30 years but just 2 years later, his friends repeated the same feat!


7. Mexican drug lord El Chapo also escaped prison twice, once via another one of his infamous tunnels. 

Joaquín Guzmán Loera bribed his guards and escaped the prison by climbing into a laundry cart. He was recaptured in 2014 again but just 17 months later, he escaped through a mile-long tunnel built underneath the showers of the maximum-security prison, a tunnel that had lighting, ventilation and motorcycle tracks. 


8. South Korean criminal Choi Gap Bok escaped prison in 2012 by the virtue of being a Yoga practitioner and being very bendy!

Choi was a yoga practitioner of 23 years, who just five days after his arrest squeezed through a food slot that was only 5.9 by 17.7 inches. The whole thing reportedly only took 34 seconds and earned him the nickname of the Korean Houdini. 


9. Ronald Silva, a drug trafficker escaped a Brazilian prison in 2012 by basically shaving his body hair and dressing up as his wife. 

Every time his wife came for her weekly visit, she would give Silva the clothes she was wearing and changed into a spare outfit she had in her purse. He then proceeded  to shave his arms and legs, apply fake nails, put on a wig, lipstick, heels, and one of those outfits. He walked right past the guards and on to the street. Nobody noticed him. 

Daily Mail

10. David Sweat and Richard Matt escaped from Clinton Correction Facility, New York state’s largest prison, something that nobody had done in 170 years. 

The duo carved into a large pipe using a hacksaw provided by the prison tailor and worked through a maze of tunnels before popping out of a manhole in Dannemora, New York. The prison tailor smuggle the hacksaw to them by hiding it inside frozen hamburger meat. The criminals also left guards a note that read ‘Have a nice day’.

ABC News

Mind you, we are glorifying any of them but credit where credit is due. Some of these are just incredible.