The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Looting is theft that takes advantage of special conditions such as a disaster, war, evacuation or blackout.

It is a crowd phenomenon that occurs when the police cannot control people.

In such an incident, security is very lax, largely because law enforcement are busy dealing with the actual problem and security systems, cameras and alarms often fail during blackouts. The collapse of infrastructure also makes it hard to protect property.

Looters see the disaster as an opportunity to better themselves without the risk of being caught. This may be because a large number of other people are also looting, the fact that the property loss may be attributed to the actual disaster, and the feeling that other people will loot it eventually anyway.

Looters may have often lost a lot of their own property, and see looting as a chance to benefit out of a bad situation. This is usually the case as looters rarely come from another unaffected location to steal.

Looting in the world

Without a police presence, looting will nearly always occur in large scale disaster situations.

Following the death of Valentinian III in 455, the Vandals invade Rome, extensively looting it.

During the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 many ATMs were robbed in New York.

After the United States occupied Iraq, the absence of Iraqi police and the reluctance of the US to help enabled looters to raid homes and businesses, most notably the Iraqi National Museum. During the war, hospitals were stripped of nearly all supplies.

See also

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04