Looter Repellent

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The recent hurricanes of this year, Isaac and Sandy, have brought to light that worse trait of post-storm recovery: looting.

What is looting?

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Looting is the act of taking goods (stealing) during unusual circumstances such as the recent hurricanes, or other natural or manufactured disasters when police are unavailable or otherwise occupied. It's simple: when the lights go out alarms don't work. Damage to storefronts and homes left vacant by evacuating families often create access points through knocked-out windows, doors, and walls, that further invite people with sticky fingers. After Hurricane Sandy one eyewitness said, ""I saw this guy stealing televisions from a nursing home right on the boardwalk on Tuesday, and the workers were chasing him up the street....Every time I saw him he had a different TV."

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The survivor's firearm choice

Simple, affordable, and effective is the key to a good anti-looter arsenal. Any firearm is preferable to nothing at all. In (legal) firearm-scare Queens, residents had to use "baseball bats, booby traps - even a bow and arrow - to defend themselves" from looters.

Handguns are good for home defense but shotguns and carbines are better. Besides having a longer sight radius and therefore being more accurate, they are a more visible deterrent. I have been through several hurricanes at the ground-zero impact level, up to and including Katrina, and it is not uncommon after one of these events to see survivors quietly sitting on their porch...with an old Mossberg 12 or SKS leaning against the wall next to them. It's subtle and effective.


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Be careful with your actions immediately following a storm or event. Know your limitations when dealing with potentially armed subjects or a great number of individuals. Also, remember, just because people are milling about or poking around, they aren't necessarily looters. Unfortunately, after a large disaster, droves of sightseers from unaffected areas tend to mob ground zero. The last thing you need is to set yourself up for a menacing or brandishing charge, which in some states is a felony. Lastly, for your own safety and liability purposes, don't try to apprehend or detain looters. Catch and release normally works best, coupled with taking photos of them to pass on once law enforcement resumes.

In the end, the best thing I can tell you is to be prepared. It's a far, far, better thing to have a defensive firearm and never need it, than to desperately need one and not have it.

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November 30, 2012  •  01:36 PM
This reminds me of the time an odd string of tornadoes came through the town I lived in. It was uncommon for tornadoes to touch down near us and even more uncommon for multiple tornadoes to touch down. But they did and they ended up tearing up a few buildings and homes in their path.

My stepfather worked as an electrician and they had a warehouse about a mile from our home. He went to check it out and a huge hole had been ripped in the side of the building. I remember the owner and his wife talking about staying at the office/warehouse and that they were going home to get guns and supplies in case looters dared enter the warehouse in search of spools of copper wire, lighting fixtures, pipes, tools or other materials.

It's unnerving that in the wake of disaster, people who don't even have electricity are stealing TVs that can't even be plugged in. Greed is a powerful monster, isn't it?

Stay low. Keep your guard up. And be safe.
December 16, 2012  •  11:21 PM
I wouldn't shoot a person over stealing food when starving or materials during "normal" times, but a looter, i would have to restrain myself from. They really don't fit into the category of people. They are more like thugs, hoolagans and bullies. I'm hard 'cause I've experienced violence from mean greedy people. Even when you will give up a wallet or purse they will still harm you for fun/sick satisfaction
September 16, 2013  •  01:36 AM
mob mentality...