Surfing the SHTF internet waves a few days ago I came across No Bullshit Survival. The “no bullshit” in the sites’ name makes it, in a sense, a non-shtf shtf site ……. anyway, I found the site administrator’s post, Guide to Looting when SHTF. The author prefaces the post with “If you’re a law abiding citizen I suggest you don’t read this section.”
The “guide” is brief and talks about:
- making a “looting kit”
- making a “looting team”
- mapping and creating a list of targets
- what to loot
- places to avoid
The author’s logic seems misplaced. In “places to avoid” he writes:
The family run corner stores should be avoided as the owners actually have an interest in the store. The best historical example to illustrate this point occurred during the LA riots … remember Korea town?
Yet in the “creating a list of targets” section he suggests police stations, fire stations and military/armory bases …. seriously? Yes – seriously.
Looting during a time of crisis – ethical?
It would seem the obvious answer is NO – unless it’s a total cataclysmic TEOTWAWKI scenario, something Mad Max like. In an unrealistic, movie-like scenario like that, looting wouldn’t be stealing, it’d be surviving. I think the ethics of looting are based on that single factor – survival. Example:
- Ethical – A hurricane hit three days ago, everything is destroyed and flooded, people are dead, thugs are out and help is nowhere to be seen. You need clean, potable water – you loot the convenience store for bottles of water and power bars. You hit up the pharmacy for insulin to treat your diabetes.
- Stealing – You then grab a bag of lollipops and go across the street to snatch a flat panel television.
If I could honestly tell a judge (or higher power) that I took the item(s) because I feared for my survival without them, I’d be okay with it.
Looting during the New York City 1977 blackouts?
I have to say I agree with you…in the SHTF situation you have to practice ethics. Is it possible to end in a lose scenario? Yea it is but once we cross over into the unethical it better be because mad maxx is hunting down the bad guys! People that loot for greed will lose in the end, they will be the ones that step into the wrong store or home for the wrong reason and will end up dead. At least that is how I have to see the world works, karma will deal with those that do wrong…maybe it is not the truth but if we can’t believe this what is the point of survival?
Looting and ethical are a contradiction in terms. In your hurricane example, You should have water and insulin put up at home and been prepped. Poor planning does not justify stealing. You knew the hurricane was coming, it is not like they don’t warn us that they are.
If however the SHTF to the extent of “the Road” when there is no ownership of anything, then all bets are off anyway. You do what you have to to survive.
Lets hope that it never gets that bad.
Right, but in that type of situation, ownership goes to whomever can take or control an area or piece of property. It would be more like a territorial situation or sort of like the feudel system. IT is a matter of power and control. I feel like we will probly have a similer situation were local LE will be so weak or overwhelmed that they will expect you to fend for yourself and then they will help clean up the mess and get rid of the body. We live in the modern times in history and it is sort of that way to an extent in extreme rural areas because response time is out the window. When you call 911 and seconds count and the average response time to your AO is like 30 minutes, I mean what do they EXPECT you are going to do? I KNOW what i am going to do.
As an LEO I do feel there is a difference between the two examples. One is about survival and one is about greed. Texas has relized that there will be times during emergency where people need to take supplies from damaged store in order to survive. Yes that is right you can claim it as a defense in Texas to theft, but once you pick up that flat panel tv or item not neccessary to your survival until help arrives it is theft. If you are still worried about it then make a list of what you took and leave a copy at the store with your name and phone number. Then when the emergency is over go settle up with the store owner.
What if your home is damaged or destroyed and you lose your supply of insulin and your are also cut off from the mainland because the roads are blocked or damaged. This happened in the aftermate of Ike in south Texas in 2009. Then what are you going to do about obtaining that supply of insulin and other needed supplies. Will you watch your child die?
I have a unique prospective on this. It is my opinion that most looting occurs within the mob menatality when people dont really NEED those goods to survive. For instance, during Katrina we saw footage of some guys taking a HUGE big screen tv. I was miffed because not only do they not need this to survive another day or to get thru the bad situation but they wouldnt even have ELECTRICITY for probly 6 mos!!! What were they gonna do with that thing? If you are in a bad way and on the verge of hypothermia and busting a window to grab some matches and a bllanket will save your life, it is better to be judged by 12 than to be carried by 6, to steal frivilous items of intrinsic value during this type of breakdown is a SHOOTING OFFENSE in my opinion. At the same time, if it means feeding my family and staying alive and I have no other choice(you know IOU, barter, or other types of negotiations) then yes, I will TAKE what I need to siurvive but I wont take useless crap just for value. situational factors weigh in here. If the place has been evacuated or is abandoned, then what ever I can find is fair game. We must always try to maintain our compasion and our civility but I can tell you that when it breaks down to the point that my ASS is on the ;line, ALL BETS ARE OFF:)
Great topic! l was just discussing this very thing yesterday. l was in Arcadia when hurricane Charley hit. We had 22 people in a brick building for 9 days. l remember hearing Oprah talking about the crazy things that happened after Katrina and l honestly couldn’t understand it. We came together as a group and helped each other as much as we could. There was one piece of plywood with the words “no looting” in front of the rental place in town. You know what? No one touched it. Matter of fact l honestly don’t think anyone touched anything.
l agree if it truly was a matter of survival, yes take what you need ONLY! However, look around for alternatives first. We had people going to their homes to find nothing left but then they found can goods,meat in their freezers, water jugs, gas cans, etc. One person brought their grill, another cut up a limb for wood, We ate, had blankets, and fed passersby til help came in from the red cross and the national guard. The guys in our group went out immediately after the storm and started clearing roads of limbs and debris. One girl had a tree go through her living room roof they went and removed it and covered it with a tarp. There just wasn’t any crazy just neighbors helping neighbors. l hope this never becomes a problem l have to contend with, but l agree only what you need not what you want!
Thats what Im talkin bout. In the country and a small town, everybody knows everybody and even people who dont like each other will ceasefire and come together if it means surviving. There are some that are just common criminals and you wil have to dispatch them accordingly, but for the most part, we stick together. I hv a network for survivla purposes that is off the chain. we have an entire ammo manufacturing systme of reloading benches spread thruout 3 counties. Anywhere my feet hit the ground I can go to a house and have accesss to reloading gear, dies componants anywhere. Same with basic gear, food and a warm place to sleep. NETWORK FOLKS thats where its at!
The Korea Town were an example of people who banded together & would take no crap from the would-be looters, nothing more. I touched on this before when I mentioned neighborhoods in L.A. and how they will naturally circle their wagons to protect their collective interests.
What the vicarious author does not realize is the finality of the choices he is presenting. On one side you have people with questionable motives, bordering on bully tactics & the other side, an unknown commodity – the intended victim. If the victim is prepared and armed, which one of the author’s followers are going to be the first threat eliminated?
I hate to keep beating a dead horse but sometimes my L.A. experiences can cast some perspective. If you are ever driving, especially at night and get pulled over by the LAPD is highly advisable to keep your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight and not make any jerky moves.
When the officer arrives (at an advantageous angle for them) ask for permission to get the requested documents and by all means, let them know if the info is in the glove box or some out of sight place. And if you are stupid enough to open your car door uninvited (as I did once) expect to see their hand firmly on their gun.
BTW, I always keep my wallet in my glove box for this reason – sitting in a car, reaching behind you for your wallet is an excellent way to get a .40 cal stuck in your ear & asked to stop.
Point being – never, ever make assumptions.
The author is another example of some dolt who sits behind the computer in the safety of his/her home and fantasizes about the what if’s then decides to try to enroll other weak minded fools into things he’d never do when the rubber meets the road.
The referenced blog represents the real danger of the Internet – wrong influencing and people actually responded favorably. This is a case where I have less problem with government taking over the Internet or censoring idiots like these.
A while back I took issue with someone (on another blog) for blustering about carrying multiple weapons on their person in their everyday walk of life. Given the fact that it was boasted upon and it was several different types of weapons, I drew the conclusion that it was only a matter of time when it will be brandished and a choice will have to be made.
It was this individuals choice to be armed in what I consider to be unreasonable & highly questionable but my bigger issue was how this highly publicized position (via blog exposure) would influence others. The thing is, some people can be put into very compromising positions simply by acting or mimicking someone else’s exposed & text book sociopathic behavior that can seem acceptable when not questioned.
I’ve seen what that influence can do & isn’t pretty.
I’m a “Native Angeleno” myself (we’re actually very rare!) I went through numerous earthquakes including Sylmar and Northridge, The Watts and the Rodney King riots.
With regard to looting, only what I would need for my family’s survival, and then with IOUs attached. The only thing non food/shelter/fuel I might consider would be batteries and maybe a radio if mine were exhausted.
My ex-father-in-law was LAPD, and he gave me the same advice years ago. Also don’t try to get your seat belt on in a hurry. Better to get the ticket than to get a pistol pointed in your face for “fidgeting around”.
As for “Joe Bad Ass”, some people just don’t understand the concept of subtlety. I’m reminded of the TV show “Operation Repo”and their muscle man Matt, who flies off the handle at the slightest provocation. Those shows are staged, but in real life it’s usually wiser to keep your cool and let the aggressor wonder what you’re hiding. During my time in LA On rare occasion I would encounter those road raging dimwits. I would just remain calm, keep eye contact without staring, and wait for them to escalate. One of the nice things about Colorado having legal concealed carry is that in 5 years I’ve never had to contend with the Fruit Loops I had to in Los Angeles 🙂
Subtlety is exactly my point with weaponry – as Yoda said “do or do not, (there is no try)”.
As you seem to allude to many do not have the experience of real threats or that potential but can talk tough. I’m sure you’d agree & guarantee that if TSHTF, you better have your S wired tight.
I think one key here is to clearly define “looting”. when I think of looting, Ithink like the shit you are describing. People breaking windows and pilaging whatever they can getthier hands on without any regard for other peoples property or safety. I think more along the lines of scrounging and using what I can find. However, when you are in a situation where minutes or even seconds count, sometimes you have to act and deal with the conciquences anc hope that anyone you encounter will recognize your predicament and have a little compassion as maybe we would for others in a similer situation. Common thives pilaging other peoples shit should get exactly what they deserve but if you are freezing to death or bleeding to death and you grap what you have to have to plug a hole not many folks would hold that against you. In fact, most people will identify with the behavior in that, they would likely do the same thing. As for weaps, those are individual issues and yes, there are some really stupid people out there that will do stupid things. I carry everyday, and sometimes I carry a BUG as well, depends on where I am going and what the specific threat level is likely to be. I am also not the average GOON, I hold two Degrees in criminal justice and work in a CRJ feild and also teach martial arts and weapons training. So yea, Ive seen some people with some pretty f#@%d up ideas, but in a REAL SHTF situation, people are not going to act rationally(or at least a large number of them will not) and as an individual you may have to make some very hard and unpopular decisions if you want to stay alive. I had a friend who was a deputy there during the LA Riots(king) and what he described was pretty wild, they were shooting people wholesale and rubber stamping them as good shoots. It was crazy and it is also a good primer for what could happen on a much larger scale and for a much longer duration. Just food for thought. As for anykind of sensorship, that is just stupid, it is a violation of the Constitution and no one writing about hypothetical situations tha COULD transpire should be held responsable for some idiot that goes out and does something supid. Anyone that unstable should be in a contained environment ot begin with.
Does anybody remember that the Hells Angels during the LA riots had their clubhouse on a street and they stopped any of the business from being looted on their block. They were all small business owners.
The issue I have with entertaining the idea of looting is that for far too many this IS their survival plan. They see no need to prep as there are plenty who do, who also have blown their OPSEC all to Hell in every conceivable way. I hear these same people discussing the merits of eating their fellow man, and it seems that there are many who simply cannot wait for the opportunity to carry out these psychotic fantasies. I see they have a “places to avoid” category…………put my place close to the top of that list. I do not think there are any here who are confused over the meaning of looting, my only advice is to tread lightly in the realm of situational ethics……….there ARE absolutes, and I am one of those absolutes when it comes to stealing anything of value from me. That said, (and as others have pointed out), in a Mad Max world anything goes…….but again, that’s a two edged sword.
I agree, I know people who are quite candid about it and will tell you that its precisely thier plan. They think they are going to go out and whack someone who IS prepared and take thier stuff. What most of those guys dont understand is that the people who are “prepared” train with thier guns other than just the sqare range target shooting that most people call training. I think that most of THOSE people are going to find themselves in a very bad situation that they cant deal with realisticly when they try to do that.
Yes, many will be tried and found wanting in the “I’m a bad ass” department. I keep a mental list of these folks and I can tell you, charity is not an option for these people should SHTF. To willingly neglect prudent preparation at any level while looking forward to looting those who have during hard times deserves nothing more than .85 cents worth of lead/copper composite.
In one of my former professions we had a saying, “Bad asses get dead” and in the long haul that is usually true. In reallity most Badasses are no more than opertunistic bullies anyway and then eventually they run into someone that is badder than they are and it comes to an abrupt end. Ive stopped trying to talk to people about prepping that are too stupid to make any effort. I decidedto no longer waste my time on people who are lining up to be cannon fodder. Most of those people will get on a rail car and walk into the oven/shower etc with an ignorant smile on thier face and die that way. I guess it is true that you can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink.
Spook, you make some good points.
As far as “Bad Asses” – everyone is a bad ass when typing on the computer & living in a fantasy world but when push coves to shove, I think the true bad asses will be more like the protectors & not the looters.
Lastly, let’s not forget about successful gun control …. aim carefully.
I once saw two guys trying to goad some older dude into a fight, being quite descriptive as to how it was all going to play out. He looked up at them and calmly said “you just go ahead and do whatever it is you think you are big enough to do”, and lit up a smoke. You could have cut the tension with a knife right then, LOL. You are right Spook, “bad asses” are a dime a dozen and usually don’t make the cut at the end of the day, and when “bad ass” meets the guy who just wanted to be left the Hell alone……… well, it could get exciting.
Who is going to be wandering around when there are gangs and looters stealing and robbing? I’ll be in my home waiting for things to cool down.
Or, hopefully by that time, if it ever comes, I’ll be out of the city and in the boondocks on my property.
I think if you loot you place yourself at risk. The point seems to be that arguably you could take only what you need to survive or leave an IOU etc. and it would somehow be “ethical”. But it is also ethical to protect yourself and your property with deadly force. How does the property owner know you are really a nice guy who just needs to steal from him so you can survive? This is a lose/lose situation and once it goes bad I see no good coming from it.
Good question – I guess you don’t, but I would certainly agree with the “IOU” concept if you took something for your own survival. If I absolutely had to loot for my or my family’s survival, I’d go into a store announcing myself, that I don’t want any harm, and only need water (or whatever), and ask for help. Again, it’d have to be a SURVIVAL situation. Otherwise you wouldn’t run the risk.
Rioting style looting is often a political statement: as MLKjr put it: Rioting is the voice of the unheard.
The follow on looting is often of an opportunistic nature. However, if you have a group within society that feels that it has no stake within the society they will turn to looting very quickly.
And that is where I think the looting situation will stand. To the extent that people feel they have a stake within civil society they are not going to loot. At the point that their children are starving, or that they see they will be starving in the near future, I think most people will very quickly turn to looting.
You can say they are not prepared, but the very civil society that you are “defending” is the same one that is telling them that no, or only very limited preparations are needed.
Rioting and Looting are not the same. While the rioting may or may not have a political motivation, the looter are just take advantage of the sitution the rioting created.
Looting is stealing because you can. Looting is taking things you want but don’t need to fulfill a desire to have “things”. Looting of Electronics, furniture and fur coats during a hurricane without power and flooding is stealing due to opportunity. Survival is passing up a flat screen TV and a fur coat to get to bottled water, baby food and a blanket. Stealing is never good and anything that you don’t own that you take is stealing however the defense that can you look a judge, a police officer or the store owner in the eye and say, I or we needed this to survive until help arrived is a good point. Stealing Insulin for a diabetic is survival, stealing Sudoephedrine to make meth or stealing morphine or oxycotin without an injury that needs it is just theft. I would avoid theft as long as possible but unless you have good information that whatever event causing the disaster is only temporary then I would do whatever it takes to provide, protect and shelter my family and those in my charge as long as it takes or is necessary. Who is worse the father who steals food and medicine for his family, or the local gang member or drug dealer or street thug who steals a TV set. Fortunately if the event is bad enough and long enough, the fools who steal the TV set and the fur coats will be cancelled out by the survivors who steal food, ammunition and necessities that can be used to survive with. During a real SHTF situation let the fools steal TV sets and toys and I’ll take the bottled water, food and ammunition. Then we will see who is left standing. As Forrest used to say “stupid is as stupid does.” As always use your head and your heart and if you are the kind of person that should survive you will know what to do. Then go do it. Peace
I was in Florida during the 2004 hurricanes. There was quite a bit of looting going on. In fact, everyone beachside was evacuated inland, and were not allowed to go back to their homes until the bridges were checked out and deemed safe. Meanwhile, looters were stealing boats and crossing the river to rob the homes and stores beachside. It was a nightmare. Also, we had a generator and I had someone break through my stockade fence to try to steal it. My neighbor behind me scared them off with a gun. Luckily we had a huge chain (think circus elephant chain) on the generator, so they probably could not have gotten it anyway.
I think that after some catastrophe, looting would probably be the most dangerous thing you could do. If the store or home owners don’t get you, the other looters may. No thanks, I will prep and hope for the best.
Michelle & Jack Fellin, I am in agreement with you.
I do not think anyone here is supporting going out and taking supplies from someones home or business through any kind of force. I would never take anything from a store without permission of the owner if the owner is present and it would be my very last resort to leave my information if no one was present where the owner can find it so we can settle up the bill. I would also follow up after the event myself with the business owner as well to ensure my bill is payed. The bottom line is expect to pay, nothing is free. I prep with the hope I would never have to make any of these choices. It truly is such a fine line that none of ever want to ahve to cross it.
It truly is such a fine line that none of us ever want to have to cross it.
Would I loot? If push came to shove, and my survival depended on it.. Sure. I don’t see it happening though.
In my location, it’s hard for me to envision a scenario where looting would be necessary. The natural disasters we have around here are localized and short lived. It would take some sort of regional or national SHTF accompanied with a complete loss of my preps in order for me to need to loot. And even before that point is reached bartering may be possible if others around me are rational enough to trade and I can probably find most of what I need (raw materials) at the garbage dump or in nature.
The most probable scenario that would require looting is if I happen to be away from home without a bug out bag or EDC kit and a disaster occurs.
As others have stated, if you prep properly then you should have little/no need to steal anything. I can understand if you lost most/all of the items you have set aside due to some “act of god”, but again it should be a last resort.
Personally, if I am out trying to gather supplies (for whatever reason) post SHTF and I come across folks looting, I would probably try to hinder them in some manner. While I am not stupid enough to try and go “Dirty Harry” on them, a well place puncture in a tire could do the job! Around here most of the shops are family owned, we have places like wal-mart and CVS, but they can pay somebody to CTA (cover their ass). I know a lot of the folks who own the family shops (or went to school with their kids), I know that if things get bad I can ask them for help. So to me it is only fair that I try and help them if I can.
As far as going into shops and taking what you need when things get bad, I won’t say I haven’t thought of it… If I HAD TO, it would be wal-mart, because you would have access to food, water, firearms, ammo and medical supplies… but things would have to be REAL BAD before I would consider this an option. I am pretty well stocked up on most everything my family and I would need for about 6mo, except some medications which cannot be “stockpiled” because of federal restrictions. But those are not to treat life-threatening issues, they just make things a little more “comfortable”.
I do like the “IOU” idea though, I don’t like the idea of taking anything but at least then you would have some accountability for your actions. I would definitely go back if things “settle down” and square up with the shop, but the “IOU” idea would help to keep folks honest about paying their debts. I also have to agree with the statement made by Spook- “it is better to be judged by 12 than to be carried by 6″… You need to do what you need to do to survive, but don’t go beyond that. If you take medicine/food/water to keep yourself/family alive and well, then a jury would probably not hold it against you, and you would probably face minimum penalty if any.
I also like that a few veteran officers have responded, I am a police science student so its interesting for me to hear the perspective of folks who have been in the law enforcement profession for a while as I am trying to become an officer myself.
I am guessing the places like Walmart will probably get looted pretty quickly after an event, so your looting options will diminish as time passes.
Looting, by definition, is the indiscriminate taking of goods, so I don’t think there can be such a thing as “ethical” looting. Probably what we’re really talking about is “scavenging.” Taking unneeded items in a survival emergency would be looting (“stealing” example in the main post above), while taking items essential for survival could be scavenging (“ethical” example” in post above).
If you’re in your home you probably have no excuse for scavenging – should have been prepared. But even if you’ve prepped very well, you can lose your home or have to run, and may have nothing. Scavenging is probably a given.
I’m pretty sure taking even essential items needed for survival from an abandoned/destroyed convenience store during an emergency would legally be considered stealing, though I’m comfortable with the term scavenging. In a TEOTWAWKI situation (collapse) it won’t matter — unless the owner is around.
I have lived in South FL for almost 26 years. I was here during the Wilma and later Katrina (as well as Andrew) and I am a LEO. I did not see any looting taking place. I did see an upswing in Burgalries, both residential and business. Is this the same as looting? Not sure. I did not see wide scale rioting. I did see unprepared people standing in long lines for food and water from the government and getting upset and stupid when they did not get all that they wanted or felt they needed. I did see small business owners staying at their businesses armed. I saw everything from handguns to battle rifles. I even would stop by a local gun shop that had part of the roof damaged and had 2 staff members, who I knew personally, camp out inside. They did get to pick the coolest stuff to “stand guard with”!! There were no problems at the shop. I did see the criminal element try and take advantage for slow or no police response. I can say that I would never advocate looting but if the SHTF and everything collapsed and one was forced to flee, kinda like ” The Road” I think it would be survival if you found an open vending machine with potato chips left inside.(not that it wouldn’t be picked clean already)
I also have to mention that we did have several incidents of sex offenders who were on GPS tracking (probation/parole) trying to take advantage of the situation by “talking to children” and went and tagged and bagged them them real quick! I also have to say that we had several probation officers out there busting hump with us keeping track of sex offenders and high risk offenders. Here in FL they are sworn LEO’s and carry guns and have arrest powers.
So anyway, I think if SHTF for a long duration it would get much worse!
Police officers don’t get enough credit for the job they do, its reassuring to hear yall were on top of those sick bastards! The weirdo’s that prey on women and children are the reason I want to become a Game Warden rather than a LEO. Since there is less chance of me having to deal with them… I don’t know that I could live with myself if a someone I busted for molesting kids or somethin got off the hook!
I think most people reading this blog would be ethical. With that said, looting could prove promising for things such as medicine that would not otherwise be had. I would never walk off with a flat screen just because I could. I can buy which ever one I want and even if I couldnt, I still wouldnt. I would be very tempted to take things to keep myself and family alive. TV’s during a black out = completely useless!!!
Many of you feel that people in rural areas or small towns would react to looting differently. How far from a major city does one need to be to fit into this catagorey?
Hard choices but let me state the obvious . Unless you have a really good job or taking care of extended family keeping you in a high risk area …. MOVE to a place where hurricanes , tornados , etc . dont happen as another way to prepare . Like those people in California that have their house destroyed by mud slides every 3 years and keep going back to the same place , sorry man….. no sympathy there . As far as looting in general goes , this means you have failed to be prepared . You are a predator and not a survivalist to NEED to go that route in the first place . I’m talking about general circumstances here as well . If your looting food , medicine , things to stay alive because nature destroyed all your preparedness , I would cut you some slack , but if your looting big screen TVs , and crap like that , then you need to get a bullet in the side of your head ! If in the process of looting ANYTHING , you kill somebody to get it…..you have just forfeit not only your right to survive , but your families RIGHT to survive as well . Looting is a short term goal , and idiotic way to survive . In a real and permanent breakdown , all things worth looting will be gone in less than a week . From that point on you have to kill for what you failed to set aside if you have nothing to trade . That makes you just another piece of shit whose life has no value to be disposed of . Your life is no more or less important than anybody else’s , If somebody wants to take what you have by killing you if they have to …. they are not longer to be considered human , so shoot em down like you would a monster in a video game to protect you and yours . Hope things never come down to that for anybody . Hope all our preps turn out to be just a training exercise and something to tell our grand children about like backyard bomb shelters in the 1950s cold war era .