Knot of the Week: Thief Knot - ITS Tactical
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Knot of the Week: Thief Knot

By The ITS Crew

Thief Knot

This week’s knot, the Thief Knot, is one of the most interesting knots to teach people about. The Thief Knot is said to have been tied by Sailor’s who wanted a way to see if their Sea Bag was being tampered with. The crafty Sailor would tie the Thief Knot, which closely resembles the Square Knot (Reef Knot), counting on a careless thief.

The Thief Knot is tied much like the Square Knot, but the ends of the knot are at opposite ends. The careless thief, upon seeing what knot was tied in the Sailor’s sea bag, would tie the bag back with a regular Square Knot alerting the Sailor his bag had been rummaged through.

Thief Knot »

(Strength: 1/Security: 1/Stability: 1/Difficulty: 1)

Please refer to our Knot of the Week introduction post for a description of what these ratings mean.

The Thief Knot, while more of a novelty knot, does have it’s purpose if you’re trying to fool thieves… I guess it’s safe to say it was the original tamper evident tape. Much like the Square Knot, the Thief Knot should NOT be relied upon during a critical situation where lives are at risk! Also, the Thief Knot is even more insecure than the Square Knot and will also slip if not under tension or when tied with Nylon rope.


  • Indication of tampering
  • Some similar Square Knot uses (Remember this is more insecure!)
  • Impressing your friends at parties

The Thief Knot is not typically tied by mistake, unlike the Square Knot which can yield a Granny Knot.


Hold the two ends of the rope in opposite hands

  1. Form a bight (curved section of rope) with your left hand where the end points towards the top of the loop
  2. Pass the right end in and around the back of the bight
  3. Continue threading the right end back over the bight and back through it
  4. The right end should now be parallel with it’s starting point
  5. Grasp both ends of the right and left sides and pull to tighten
  6. Check the knot to ensure that you have the working ends of the knot pointing in opposite directions

View the gallery below and follow along with the steps above!

Check back next week as we continue our “Knot of the Week” series with the Highwayman’s Hitch!

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