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Looting is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force during a catastrophe such as during war, a natural disaster, rioting, or in this case: a zombie outbreak. Masses of people steal supplies in a chaotic environment, usually taking advantage of a lack of available law enforcement. Looting is usually carried out against stores, businesses, or hospitals, but rarely, private residences may suffer looting as well.

Differences between Raiding, Looting, and Scavenging

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Raiding or Banditry is the use of an armed group with a leadership hierarchy to rob from people. They may not have the advantage of numbers, but they almost always threaten violence and often carry it out on their victims whether they get what they want or not. Basically, raiders engage in active combat and looters tend to avoid direct attacks on their targets. Looters also value speed. They go to get what they want and leave the scene as soon as possible before fear and crime devolves into a violent encounter. When bandits sense they are dominant, they may slow down the action to gloat or toy with their victims.

Scavenging is similar to looting. Looting can actually be thought of as a kind of scavenging. Scavengers don't often victimize anyone as the majority of scavenged goods are abandoned. Looters will take things that are both owned and do not belong to anyone. They operate under what they perceive as a temporary inability of the law to punish them for their acts. Scavenging takes place in an environment where the law is rendered obsolete from the chaos (in this case, a Zombie Epidemic). Therefore, looting is most common in the early stages of a zombie outbreak.

Looting as a Choice

The same group psychology behind looting is thought to be related to Mass Hysteria. As mentioned, there is usually no real structure or plan to loot - the opportunity is recognized by a group with overwhelming numbers, one person starts to steal, the others realize they too have an opportunity, and the chain reaction begins. The first people who start looting are usually nefarious or ruthless in nature, and this should be taken into account if encountered in the future.
Nevertheless, most Zombie survivalists know that the difference between living and dying may involve abandoning traditional moral values at times. Getting supplies early and quickly can be crucial. Looting too early may cause one to be arrested when the police return. Looting too late may find the store or residence devoid of useful supplies. Poor quality looters often take items they don't need (such as electronics and jewelry) or they take more than they can transport back to their home or base. Looting will become a necessity for almost anyone trying to survive in the beginning of a zombie outbreak.

Looting Effectively

If one does believe that looting is necessary for survival, one must be must be informed, observant and ready to deal with the constantly changing conditions of this chaotic environment.

  • Keep a cool head, keep a sharp eye. Your nerve and levelheadedness can be the difference between cold and efficient resource gathering and being crushed under a tsunami of trampling feet. Objectives must be quickly determined and executed. For example: If one's family is in need of food, one should take things like rice and beans, and avoid being distracted by things like name brand clothing, electronics, and jewelry. Any person you see as just another looter could be a shopkeeper, a security guard, a police officer, or a career criminal. Maintain high levels of vigilance and suspicion towards all. Nothing could be worse for you than a clerk drawing a gun in a confined space or a crowd wanting what you have. Safety and security should be paramount alongside your main objective.
  • Equipment. Just like scavengers and raiders, looters must have certain equipment to operate at maximum efficiency. You need to pack light to be able to carry as much loot as possible, but at the same time have the equipment to access things in dark or locked areas. Your basic looting kit should include the following:
    • A good pair of running shoes
    • A backpack and a couple of duffel bags
    • A light defensive weapon like a handgun, a knife, or pepper spray
    • A prying device such as a hammer or crowbar
    • A small flashlight
    • A pair of work gloves to protect your hands from broken glass
    • A mask or bandana to conceal your identity
In addition to the basic equipment, specialty tools may be carried for unique situations
  • Bolt cutters
  • Cutting torch
  • Wire cutters
  • Lock picking set
  • Drop cloth
  • Rope
  • Long gun
  • Take the right approach to the right target. The initial looting and lawlessness will quickly overtake most major supermarkets and bulk stores like Costco and Walmart. Some small businesses and stores may still be secured by the owners. Others may have been overlooked in the chaos. Whatever the case, you must take utmost care in maintaining your cover and personal safety. Deciding to loot a mom and pop shop with the owners inside may be a dangerous proposition, but when you're in the position where you are capable, have the numbers or desperate enough to try it, it could be worth your while.
  • Strength in numbers. The greater the number of people one loots with, the greater the chances are that resistance will be minimal. a group of ten looters may not intimidate a shopkeeper, but a group of one hundred may force him to flee, or not interfere. However, the larger the group, the lower the chance one will get what they need, or get the most valuable resources.
  • Stay light, stay alive. When all else fails one will need to flee. Avoiding baggy clothing and keeping weight to a minimum will allow you to avoid getting snagged by not only zombies, but it will also let you make a quick escape from a scrap and any other dangerous situation you may encounter on your trips.
  • The spoils of war. Securing your loot is just as important as procuring the loot. If the way you transport it back to your home is high-profile then one may draw unwanted attention and other looters to your home. If one has a small car, looting an emergency supply like planks of plywood for barricades may not be practical. Ropes can mitigate some of this if one can quickly tie sturdy knots.

Stopping Looters


If one finds one's own home or place of business being looted, it is dangerous (but sometimes necessary) to quell the looting. To do this, an extreme demonstration of violence may be successful. A firearms blast into the air has been known to snap people out of violent acts. Violence can backfire in this instance, however, and can turn a mob of frightened survivors into a hostile mob. Similarly, feeding into the looters fear of police or zombies may be used to deceive them, and scare them into fleeing by mentioning the police are nearby or having someone imitate a zombie. This too has obvious potential for backfiring.

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