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For a while now, I've suspected but just now confirmed that after a whole prison shakedown (2381 items/inmates searched), which was performed while they were sleeping (so there was no passing of goods to other inmates) did not reveal any tunnels, even though all of the toilets were searched. I found a few digging tools, so I promptly searched some of cells after the shakedown was over, and it unveiled quite a massive tunnel system underneath 6 or 7 of the cells in that area. There's no way that they could have dug that in literally a few minutes, but the shakedown search (which again, included toilets) did not reveal any tunnels.

Do the toilets have to be searched separately and individually from other things (vs a cell search, or a cell block search, or a shakedown) in order for a tunnel to be revealed? If this is the case, is it considered a bug?

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Not a bug, a feature!

Seriously, there is only a chance to find the tunnel. Think of it as how good the guard is. If you want to be sure, you have to dismantle the toilet.

Edit: To clarify, even searching individually does not guarantee a positive result.

A bit old Link but also known froim personal experiance

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    This is no longer the only case. You can find tunnels if you search the toilet specifically. – Timmy Jim Apr 3 '17 at 11:40
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TL;DR: There is a chance shakedowns and cell searches will, but dismantling a toilet, individually searching a toilet, or searching a prisoner at sleeping time that you suspect is digging a tunnel will reveal a tunnel.


According to the Wiki:

Escape Tunnels can be detected when a guard searches a prisoner's cell; however, that will only have a chance of working. Also, they can be spotted when a Guard Dog walks over the tunnel, which will show a yellow flag with a trowel sign next to it. However, there can be false alarms and there might not be an actual tunnel. There is only one way to be absolutely certain about an escape tunnel; dismantling or directly searching a suspected toilet.

It was never stated in the question, but using Guard Dogs helps improve the chances of finding a tunnel. The only way to be sure of finding a tunnel is to dismantle the toilet, or individually search it.

Prisoners lacking sleep may be a sign of an escape tunnel in progress. If you suspect someone for digging a tunnel you can search the prisoner at sleeping time by selecting him and searching. A tunnel will be found.

As of Alpha 34, manually searching a toilet will reveal any escape tunnels stemming from that toilet. Searching the whole cell or block will not work: specifically searching the toilet is required.

Keep an eye out for sleepy prisoners. Search them when they are sleeping, and you can find a tunnel. The way it's worded, it sounds guaranteed (so long as they are actually digging a tunnel). Also, manually searching a toilet will find any tunnels (Alpha 34+), but you specifically have to search the toilet. Cell or block searches will not.

Additional Sources:

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