Why is it when there’s a disaster of some kind people rush down to the store and steal a T.V. set? I can understand a father or mother breaking into a store to get food or formula for their kids, but breaking in and stealing a DVD player after the hurricane hits or while the city burns from civil unrest? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every person steals stuff or even that it happens during every SHTF event. But it does happen frequently enough that we should give it some thought.
There can be a strong temptation after a disaster to do things you normally wouldn’t do if everything was normal. Some people will resort to looting for things they don’t need in order to survive the emergency as mentioned above. And it’s not just poor people either, there have been cases of middle-class folks who have resorted to looting just because everybody else was doing it. Just because the crowd is doing something doesn’t mean you have to follow along. Regardless of the temptation chances are good that you will get caught and will have to suffer the consequences later.
It’s unfortunate that in times of disaster some people will choose this as a time to prey on the weak. During Katrina there were reports of women being raped. In other cases in the Middle East women reporters have been raped by large groups of men during riots. Again, this doesn’t happen every time, but when there’s a period of time WROL (Without Rule of Law) the bad and the stupid come out of the woodwork and do illegal things.
In some instances there have been examples of people who get others to their looting for them. Don’t fall prey to one of these “criminal masterminds.” Keep your situational awareness and stay out of trouble.
Many times a community will come together to help each other out. This is a good thing when it happens and it’s by far the best way for a community to repair and rebuild after a disaster. At other times communities become self-destructive and riot, loot, and resort to other sorts of crime.
The Psychology of Looting
Why do people loot? Why get caught up in the frenzy of doing what everybody else is doing?
Some psychologists call this deindividuation, which means you give up your personal identity and values when you join in with a group like this. You might think you’ll never fall prey to this kind of thing, but I can attest having been in the service that it is a powerful thing to overcome. At times the group you’re with may want to do something that they normally wouldn’t do as individuals, but as a group they act outside their normal value range. It depends on the circumstances of course and if you’re ever in a riot or other even where there may be looting or other things going on stop and analyze the situation before getting involved in something you might regret later.
When To Break the Law
As a general rule of thumb and to keep things simple – don’t. Don’t break the law. As bad as the situation might seem in the moment the event always ends and you will eventually be held accountable. If you break the law will you get away with it? Maybe, maybe not. Is it really worth it to try?
Many times during looting events people come running out of an electronics store and someone is standing outside filming it. Pretty soon that footage is up on Facebook or other social media and someone recognizes your mug carrying that new Blu Ray player. Not exactly something needed in order to survive a flood is it? Next thing you know, you’re in front of the judge paying the price. Remember that old movie Baretta? “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” (Don’t do it.)
The only time I would take something from a store without paying would be under dire conditions. If during a SHTF event my family didn’t have food and water and I didn’t have access to any, then – if possible – I would take something from a store if it was abandoned. The police are far less likely to shoot you for taking some diapers and a gallon of milk than a big screen tv or a shotgun. Many cops have watched people take grocery items and turned the other way, don’t’ forget they are people too. Cops are just like the rest of us in that they have families to support and care for. Hell, chances are good some cops have even taken some grocery items themselves as most of them aren’t preppers either.
Try not to get involved in things you have no control over. For example, if there’s people shooting on the next block, stay away. You’re far more useful to your family alive than dead and when bullets are flying there are no guarantees about anything. An old staff sergeant in my unit used to say, “It’s not the bullet with your name on it that you have to worry about. It’s the one that says, ‘To whom it may concern’ you have to watch out for.” – Wisdom from an old combat vet.
There are no acceptable times to loot for “stuff” during an SHTF event. It might be you need to take some food and water and if you have to, so be it. Cops are far less likely to ding you for that. Indeed there are reports and video of cops standing around watching people take things from grocery stores during emergencies because they understood the people’s need to eat and drink fresh water.
Keep in mind that unless it’s a TEOTWAWKI event with no hope of rebuilding civilization you don’t want to go breaking the law. WROL might exist for awhile, but human kind always seem to have a way of bringing order from chaos, and if you’ve picked up a bad reputation it will be a lot harder for you to fit into a new society.
People have long memories and it would be far better to do what you know is morally right in any given situation and be remembered as that guy or gal that did the right thing, the hard thing, when the chips were down.
There are too many armchair preppers out there. Those guys with no preps, but plenty of guns to take whatever they need during the big disaster. Those are the guys that people will remember as the bad guy, the one that needs dealing with in a harsh manner. You can try and be the lone wolf and you might even get away with it for a while, but in the end it’s usually better to have some friends who have got your back when the chips are down.
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.