Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Benjamin Burns. Benjamin discusses a subject that I have written about in the past and it always creates controversy. Most of us view looting from the lens of a society that is largely still functional. We see images of real-life looting (theft) on TV fairly often and almost universally, these actions are not necessary to preserve life. People steal items of convenience or luxury for no reason other than to take and use the chaos as an excuse to enrich themselves at the expense of someone else. I can draw a distinction between stealing TV’s when my sports team loses and stealing food from a grocery store after an earthquake has leveled the town but anyway you look at it, you are stealing. There are many arguments on both sides of this issue and I am sure readers will share their thoughts in the comments below on whether or not you feel it is ever okay to join the looters.
Disclaimer. I am not telling you to go out and steal! This article is simply theoretical. I have not stolen, rioted or looted. I am only basing this article on research I have done. I think that looting is the worst way to survive a disaster and should be only done as a last resort!
Looting has played a factor after almost every disaster. We’ve all seen the videos of looters running out of big name stores with TVs. The picture of a New Orleans police officer stealing boxes of shoes or of stores that are completely cleaned out after a disaster. If you do a simple internet search, you can find pictures of shop owners holding guns, machetes or sticks and staring down crowds. Have you ever stopped to think about being one of the looters?
I want to make something very clear. I’m not talking about protesters or rioters. However you exercise your freedom of speech or show your disagreement with a situation is none of my concern. (Unless you’re an idiot that likes to block the road during protest, in that case you can go to hell) I’m talking about plain and simple looting. I define looting as using a disaster to steal things. The people who steal during riots, like in Missouri are nothing more than thugs.
If you look at most disaster related looting, you will see that people take stuff that they want, not what they need. People want flat screen TVs, liquor, high dollar clothes and narcotics. You see some people getting diapers and food but not a lot. Most people plan on getting food from the government, churches and volunteer groups. They don’t even think about the possibility that people won’t help them out. They assume that food, water and medicine will always be provided. If you’re reading this, you know that isn’t the case. You know that you may be the only person that you can count on to provide the things you truly NEED to stay alive.
In the past I’ve watched looters, on TV, and wondered what I would do in that situation. Honestly, my plan is to stay inside and ride it out. I keep enough supplies that I don’t have to go out. We’re going to assume that you are caught off guard with no supplies at all and no hope of any help. What are the things you need? Where should you go for supplies? What situations will you face?
The most important things are food and water. Once people realize that help isn’t coming, grocery stores will be empty within a few hours. That is where you should start. If you’re going to loot, go all in. Get a shopping cart and fill it with ESSENTIALS! Pile it as high as you can. Remember, looting one loaf of bread won’t do you any good. You’re looting to survive for possibly a few months. Stay away from the frozen crap. I love a good T-bone steak but those won’t last without refrigeration and might already be spoiled. Get the dry stuff. Stuff cans and drinks into the cart. Fill your pockets with hard candy and lighters from around the registers. Carry your biggest backpack and fill it up. If you have to ditch your cart, you can at least get away with a full backpack. Make your looting worth the risk you will be taking.
You’ve got food and water, now what? Do you have medicine? Are you or someone in your home dependent on a certain daily prescription? If so, that needs to be next on your list. What about medical supplies? Do you want to fight the flu, without medicine, while trying to survive? Grab all of the bandages, braces and iodine that you can carry. Get migraine medicine. Do you get heartburn? You better get antacid. Now for the hard part. It may sound wrong but you need some narcotics. Have you ever suffered from a toothache? What about a broken bone or a severe burn. Imagine having no pain medication. Do you have a supply of antibiotics? These are things that you will need and that you should loot.
Now you have looted a few months of food and hopefully all of the medical supplies that you will need. Next you can focus on long-term supplies. It’s time to go to your local hardware store. Seeds will be worth their weight in gold and most people will realize that after it’s too late. While you’re there, throw a generator in your cart. You might as well loot a way to run some power. Some hardware stores will have home defense items that you should gladly loot. Once again, grab a cart and fill it up.
Do you have enough ammo? Before you get too excited about the thought of looting your local gun store, stop and think about it. Gun store owners are most likely going to be guarding their store, with guns. Do you really want to run into a place that probably has a trained and heavily armed staff? That owner might have his whole family in there, armed to the teeth. If you need to get weapons, loot from a large chain store. Those employees are more likely to have less loyalty to their company and might even be looting there as well.
That last part brings up a great point to consider. Looting will never be safe. Everyone around you will be committing a crime, just like you are. The people around you may be desperate. They may be armed. They very well may shoot you for the stuff you have. Think before you loot. If you see crowds running in and out of a store, it’s probably safe. If you see a pile of bodies outside the doors and hear gunshots from inside, it’s probably not that safe. You never want to be the first person through the door. It may look dark and empty but that doesn’t mean that someone isn’t waiting inside to ambush you. Avoid mom and pop places, pop will most likely have a gun. Stick with chains.
No matter what you end up doing, looting is still illegal and will never be safe. I cannot stress that last part enough. You are putting your life at risk if you loot! You should prepare BEFORE some disaster happens and you are caught unprepared. Don’t wait until something happens, buy some supplies now!
Other places to loot:
- Restaurants. They should all have a large stock of dry goods and liquor.
- Gas stations. They will have all kinds of stuff that can help you and will probably be deserted.
- Nurseries/Green houses. Depending on the time of year and what they grow, you might end up with a full garden to help you survive.