When Does Looting Become Scavenging?

by Ron G

Note: This article is not written with a local emergency or disaster in mind. Not even a Katrina size fiasco. This is written for a national, the big schumer hitting the big fan, TEOTWAWKI, situation. Situations where local government collapses and cannot restore law and order, for a long, long time. It also is based on one big assumption, that you are bugging in and your plans, preparations, and providence are in your favor.

We all know that as soon as the masses, the takers not the makers in our society, figure out that the trucks have stopped running, that the government check is not in the mail, and that the food and fuel supply is drying up, we all know the last place a sane person wants to be is anywhere near a grocery or liquor store, a gas station, or a gun shop. Those are the first place the goblins are going to think to go. They will loot and rob but they won’t be clearing off all the shelves. They won’t be thinking that far ahead. Thinking long-term has been bred out of them over the last five generations.

Months later, after the mass die off, presuming that your plans, preparations, OPSEC, and Divine Providence have been in your favor, it may be necessary to go visit those grocery and other stores that the goblins looted earlier.

If you are like JoJo, my beautiful bride, and I, we don’t have the room to store a year’s supply of every thing we would need to have. So we have to prioritize and that means food, fuel, and the ability to defend it. While we do have soap, toilet paper, and an enhanced first aid kit, we will need to re-supply at some point.

Non-edible items like sanitation and medical supplies will for the most part have been left behind by the shortsighted, hungry goblins. Drug stores will still have vitamins, OTC drugs, antibiotics, bandages, and such. The goblins will have taken all the painkillers and the “fixin’s” for crack and any other feel good drug. Clothing, automotive, and hardware stores will be mostly untouched.

While large screen TV’s, fancy running shoes, and bling bling, might be hard to find the dollar store will still have bottles of bleach, shampoo and toilet paper available, for a while. Hardware stores will still have nails, screws, sheets of plywood, and a garden shop, etc, for a while. Pet food might be hard to find, as the goblins will have eaten that all up before they started on each other.

The key here is of course to get in and out without being seen and I will leave that to someone else to write about. There are several here that have more experience then I at recon and stealth ops.

What I am saying is this, if you are limited on funds and/or storage space, do address your sanitation, clothing, and other needs but prioritize them accordingly and for the short-term. Given a choice between 6 months of food and a lifetime of jeans and boots? I will take the food. The jeans and boots will be sitting there, on the shelf or in boxes in the back room, when we need them.

Scavenging is not looting, nor is it stealing. It is using items that were abandoned by the previous owners.

Post Script: While writing this it occurred to me that there might be a time that I would consider what some might consider “looting.” But really the difference between looting and scavenging is just a matter of time. Minutes really.

Please note that I am asking you to only consider this. If someday your situation exists like what I am going to outline, then press on as you see best. If not… then get the hell out and don’t look back. If it makes you feel better you can also leave a few pre 65 coins or 4 pounds of pennies on the counter on your way out.

If you are in the city or a town when the goblins are looting and killing in the parking lots outside the grocery store, and you decide you are not where you need to be in your preps, here is what you do. Consider going to a restaurant.

I am not talking “fast food” places here. I am talking the sit down, order from a menu, and tip the waitress kind of place More and more places are relying of dried; freeze-dried, and precooked foods. Last week I learned that Subways buys packages of 300 slices of precooked bacon. You can always use any extra canned, bagged or boxed you can get. I wouldn’t take anything frozen without the means to keep it that way or if I can eat it within a few days.

So you go to the back door of your local Dead Lobster or Outback. If people are carrying stuff out then move on, you are too late. Don’t waste the time or take the risk. If the owner and employees are gone then it is abandoned. If the back door is not locked then the employees have probably already cleaned it out. If the back door is locked, get in; hit the storeroom, the bar if there is one, then get the hell out.

It will be awhile before the smartest of the slower thinking goblins start to think of restaurants as a place to find more food then just a single meal. Remember, these people do not think in terms of tomorrow, just the now.

Bottom line, we need to think like the African Lion. It makes its kill, eats it’s fill and goes off to the shade. It is not concerned with the activity of the carrion. You and I do not want anything to do with the fighting that is going to occur over the remains. Our safety, pre or post schumer hitting the fan, involves being able to get in and get out without confrontation. Being ready to strike is key.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Having been in the restaurant business I can tell you that most if not all restaurants have about 3 days to 1 week worth of food inventory and depend on the food service truck coming on schedule to keep the doors open.

    I can also tell you that when I ran a restaurant, it a shtf situation had occured I would have split the food up with my employees and myself when I left.

    The bottom line is, after the shtf and after the zombies are killed off and you have survived and decide to stick your head up again, you will NOT find any food unless you come across a hidden store such as what was found in the book “The Road”. That is not likely to happen.

    • Agree with Charlie. As the steward (in charge of the storeroom, issuing the cooks whatever non-produce they needed, daily inventory, some ordering, also liquor was separate) of a T.G.I. Friday’s in the early 80s, we had about 3 days left when the weekly supplies were delivered. So average, say 5 days of food. Excess inventory that sits on the shelf is wasted money that could be used productively elsewhere. You may find 50# bags of flour, sugar, etc, but inspect carefully for purity. FYI, many restaurant supplies will be #10 cans. If the power has been off for more that 2 days, I would not even try to go in a walk in cooler.

  2. Alex(Ontario) says:

    This is a really great post. I will however have to say that a lot of the stuff that you say will be left behind will most likely be at least partially stolen as a lot of people may be grabbing things without even looking at them and clearing out the shelves that way.

  3. I think trying to predict what, if anything, would be left lying around in a post SHTF situation is a waste of effort, since there too many possibilities to consider. The best approach would be assume nothing, and be surprised at anything.

  4. JO (Georgia) says:

    if its been more than a few months and the system is truly down most things that aren’t canned are going to be bad already.

  5. I would think that long after the masses die off, as you say, there wouldn’t even be those odd items of clothing, nails, hardware, etc. They’d be long gone and/or destroyed.

    If this were the case, then I would not consider it looting, but scavenging. If the store owner were still in charge of his property then it would be stealing. If something is completely abandoned, with no owner in sight, dead or long gone then I wouldn’t have any moral qualms about taking what’s left.

    Anything other than these circumstances I would consider stealing and I have never been okay with that.

    I can’t even think that far ahead.

    • In the case of store , it is stealing . But with that said , scavenging is only a different wave of looting , the best stuff being taken by those that came before .Your just 100th place in line , but your doing the same thing . You have to do what you have to do if your supplies run short . We may have to do it , but we dont have to like it .

      • We dont have to like the idea of prepping either but damn…. here we are.

        • Very very true ! I think all of us could think of other places to spend our cash if we didnt think we had to do it .

  6. AZ Rookie Prepper says:

    I would respectfully disagree that “they won’t be clearing off all the shelves.” In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, looters were stealing everything with the idea of selling it later to buy needed items. Similar reports have come out of the middle east uprisings, down to museums even being looted. I personally observed in LA during the Rodney King riots the “randomness” of looting, one store stood unprotected and completely undamaged, a similar store right across the street was wrecked. I understand your premise, but feel that in some cases, there wont even be any shelves to “scavange”. Even worse, a lot of “looters” set places on fire once they’re done picking over what they wanted. I do agree that 6 months of food is better than a lifetime supply of jeans, but a balanced approach to prepping and prioritizing is much better than depending on looters to leave behind needed items. You wont be able to count on those items being available. The risk is exceedingly high. Plan accordingly.

    • I agree with AZ. Too many times even the shelving itself has been “scavenged”. I also think you’re being a little too black & white here, assuming that on one side there are preppers, and the other side there are only those who are the making of zombies. I suspect in the middle you will find many people who are thinking people, who perhaps thought about prepping, but were not willing to make the sacrifices, or perhaps are smart thinking people who needed an “apocalypse” to shake off their normalcy bias

      I think medium and long term there will probably be larger machine tools available, although no electricity to run them. If however you’ve ever seen factories of the 19th and early 20th century, you may recall that steam and water powered belt driven systems were in use everywhere, and a little clever engineering might make these tools live again.

      As for doing these things with stealth, that is one way to wdo it if you have only a small scavenging party, but a small party equals a small haul of goods and materials. The other way to do this is with an overt and massive show of force, commando style. Get in, get the stuff, and get out; all in the open, all very loudly and with clear intent of purpose. In this case the stealth would be in the earlier recon to know exactly what, where, and how to extract the objective.

      In any case, an article like this makes us think, debate, and maybe plan a little in an area many may not have considered.

      • lone survivor says:

        Are we talking about when the SHTF or teotwawki? Because one is temporary and the other is more like a nuclear war or a meteor crashing into the earth and killing millions.
        There was a TV show on called “Apocalypse Man”, and he was in I believe Detroit ,and he showed how to get around without being seen and how to find food and shelter. I was hoping that there would be more episodes, but nothing.
        Many of the looters (just like the ones in London) will go after designer clothes and jewelry, liquor and beer and go to drug stores and get pain killers and other meds, and not think of food and water.
        And I don’t think that the looters will be sitting around grocery stores all day and all night. After they get drunk or high on drugs, they will pass out. Then that’s the time to put on a bullet proof vest and night vision goggles. If things are really bad, perhaps one would stop by a army depot and get grenades and other goodies!

        • The only thing about explosives like hand grenades , claymores and C-4 , is that unless you have been trained on how to use them , they may be just as dangerous to the user as the intended victim . Reading a manual is not the same as actually using the device . One screw up can kill you . just a thought . Firearms are pretty self explanatory . A better bet for the untrained is an M-16 or whatever with a grenade launcher on it . If you were in the ground forces in the military , your way ahead of the game already .

        • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

          lone survivor, you are making the assumption that everyone out in the world is hooked on drugs etc. There are a lot of”normal” people who will be desperate to feed their families and selves. And if you havent been through a hurricane then watch the news showing the empty grocery store shelves when the next big one is predicted to hit here. As for “grenades and other goodies”….do you really believe that the military, a disciplined force with shoot to kill authority at the ammo supply points will just let you walk in and take what you want? As T.R. also said, they are not so easy to use as TV makes it appear. Make one mistake, and you’ve just turned yourself into mincemeat. Take some advice, if you feel your efforts towards survival need those kind of weapons, join up and do a hitch in the infantry, then at least you will be less likely to do grave damage to yourself.

          • SurvivorDan says:

            Wow….grenades? Really? LoneSurvivor, you’re on this site so you are probably basically one of the ‘choir’ and not to be discouraged. I think you mean well and are looking for the best course for future actions. I want you to survive since you seem to have the forethought to prepare and consider other ideas just by participating in this thread. But as a former combat grunt and deputy sheriff I have unfortunately been in the sh*t. Seen the elephant as it were. And I can tell you that taking a man’s life is the greatest burden that any decent man will have to bear even if it were done for God and country. Let alone killing a desperate man over a can of Spam. I am always well armed and have a tight small band of preppers that I can absolutely count on and they too are armed to the ‘teeth’. Our planning for exigent TEOTWAWKI circumstances is to always avoid confrontation/violence at almost any cost. Be armed for your self protection but I hope you are prudent and lucky enough to avoid bloodshed. Good prepping to you buddy. S.D.

      • Hi OP-
        I disagree with you about the ‘little clever engineering to make these tools live again’. The factories of the 19th and early 20th centuries were surprisingly reliant upon a broad base of technology to exist. The majority were water-run, and the paddles required to harness that energy have been in direct contact (or nearly so) with water for the better part of a century or more. They are no more. To replace them will require complete manufacturing of new parts, and the infrastructure to do so will be gone. There will be no large-scale iron works that function, no more molds into which melted iron could be poured (those have long-since been dismantled), though I can only tell you this from an engineering perspective… I really know nothing about the ore or steel industry. There is also the issue of cogs, pins, and everything else that would need to be brought back from the brink in order to be able to get the wheels back producing power and kinetic energy.
        We have to think smaller… or get some of these back online now, while there is still an industrial base and resources to do so. A small community that pools its resources to get a small water-powered generator or machine shop working could live well (provided there is adequate defense against the desperate and aggressive) off their ability to produce small manufactured goods both because of what they can make to improve their own quality of life and for what they can trade for raw materials and food from the outside. In fact, the economy being what it is now, I think a good argument could be made to take this step now. Bring back the custom machine shops, find small manufactured goods that can be made by those of us with the skills to do so but no jobs to go to. We are beginning to be a society of idleness… no place to be productive, no jobs to go to, no way to support our families but to look to kindly Uncle Sam for a handout. It may be that this current disaster (and it is a disaster… more than a little like the Depression of the 1930’s, though the media and gov’t would have us believe differently) comes to wake us up and open up the opportunity for Americans to show what they can do for themselves and for the world again. I don’t know… it would take a very special and resourceful person to make it happen, but it’s possible and a lot of people would be willing to put up capital to make it happen with the right plan and location.
        As far as scavenging from store shelves and restaurant storerooms, I come from a restaurant family. The general population may not think of looking there, but there are enough people out there who have at least worked in a store, restaurant, or hotel that are aware that the supplies are there. That is the first place they’d look for supplies if their own stocks were on shaky ground, and most have lived in good times from hand to mouth with nothing saved up in their pantries or closets for hard times.
        No, the single best place for us to look to during such a time is to our own preparations. Now comes the uncomfortable fact: the second best place to look for supplies is in the pantries and basements of those who have already died.
        By violence, disease, or famine, thousands upon thousands will die in an EOTWAWKI. Most will have managed to find something to eat/drink/defend themselves with, and though it obviously was not enough to keep them alive, if each had a little bit, someone else who was collecting what little bit remains from each failed survivor could make it work if they manage to outlive the others.
        Not a pretty scenario, but there is hope still that it will not come to such a state.

        • If you guys really want to know what engineering is going to look like post SHTF, watch the series Swamp People. It’s about folks who earn their living hunting alligators down in LA. There’s one episode where a man designs and builds a swamp boat out of pieces of metal. Folks don’t have a Walmart down there so folks come to this guy, explain that they need, and he builds it. I think it’s these kinds of people who will continue living without much disruption in lifestyle after SHTF. (This show is available on Netflix if anyone is interested. I would put it a couple notches above Jericho.)

          • Gayle,
            Swamp People is an interesting show with people who certainly have learned to “make do” with what’s on hand. It is also on The Histiry channel.

        • alikaat,
          There are still a lot of folks doing water and stream driven tools, right now. If you live on the farm, you have on hand or at least on call, people who can maintain and construct both new and rather old equipment. Steam driven machinery is still in abundance, mostly used for collection and display, but most fully working. There are numerous steam shows around here with working veneer makers, lumber mills, and metal milling being demonstrated. In short, I think there’s a lot more of this equipment and technology and the people who know how to use them, around than most people would guess. While you may not be able to smelt large quantities of iron and steel right away, small parts casting of aluminum, copper, and other metals is relatively easy and low tech, using lost wax and sand casting. People are I think, more skilled and resourceful than you are giving them credit.

          • Hi OP-
            That is really great. I guess, isolated in academia as I am and surrounded by the absolute lack of self-reliance that characterizes the Wal-mart minions of suburbia, I was unaware of the full extent of capabilities that exist in the greater population. This blog has been more than a little of an education for me, and though I have plenty of learning on paper, I am still learning from real life.
            Please forgive my rookie mistake!
            Thank you so much for the feedback. Maybe we as a society are not in as dire a straight as I had originally believed when I found this forum.
            Thank you so much,

            • alikaat & all,
              In this same vein of discussion, I would like to point out two new shows coming to the science channel tomorrow night (Thursday August 18, 2011). Although I’ve only seen the previews, “JUNKies” and “Stuck with Hackett”, touted as MacGyver meets Survivorman, look to be interesting shows, where people use old junk and re-task/remake it into new things. Science channel generally does a good job on these shows, so they’re probably worth watching at least the first few.

              Here’s some more information and a short promo video: http://science.discovery.com/videos/stuck-with-hackett-videos/

    • AZ ,
      off topic , but I got an Arizona road map from 1939 and compared it to the modern map . Its very interesting . I find one from the late 50’s , Ill get it and compare again . Some of the small podunk towns are no longer there on the modern map .

      • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

        T.R., my first job in the army was as a surveyor, love old maps. Its really interesting to see the changes between “then” and now. An acquaintance of mine (now deceased) was one of the surveyors in this vicinity from the 1930’s on, he may even have helped make that map of yours. Clarence Willcox was his name, maybe your family knew him? Did you know the Army’s “3 day pass” originated here at Ft Huachuca? It took the troopers all day to ride to Tucson, they had a day to have fun, then another day to ride back to Camp Huachuca (at that time). They used to take old Hwy 83. Would love to get a metal detector and travel the old highway….

        • Yes , and their is another place where the Army used to bivouac over night . Its on a ranchers property down there but I’ll ask my mom about specifically where as she knows the people . I believe its between Ft. Bowie and the Dragoons .

          • Lot of stuff waiting to be found out there still . It was common practice for cowboys to bury some of their monthly pay on the trail into town so they didnt spend it all on drinking and whatever else they took a likening to . If they got shot up in town ( which happened frequently ) , their “savings” are still out there . Just finding the old trails from the ranches to the towns they would have used , is the hard part .

          • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

            The trail from Ft Bowie to Ft Huachuca goes through what is called Middlemarch Road. The pass in the Dragoons is called Middlemarch Pass because it was approximately halfway from Bowie to Huachuca. Not far from there is China Camp, where the chinese mine laborers from Tombstone went to work some more mines when Tombstone had its downturn. Lots of interesting history (and some good bugout places) here.

            • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

              My grandfather found a mason jar with 20 silver dollars, a pearl necklace and a tiny jade buddha idol stashed away in an old mining town in northern Nevada some years ago. Probably the same sort of story as the cowboy stashing away part of their money.

        • Used to live on the edge of town as a teenager and in the desert behind the house was where Camp Jones used to be . I found all sorts of odds n ends , buttons , rail tokens , misc .rusty ” Things ” . Who knows what else they found when they cleared the land for houses several years later .

    • SurvivorDan says:

      AZ RP is right on regarding the totality of some of the looting during large scale disasters. I was with a relief column of deputy sheriffs that rushed down to New Orleans after Katrina hit. I chased a fellow into a clothing store that was totally looted. Surprised me that it was nearly bare. Many other stores were in a similar condition. I did note a certain weird inconsistency to the looting as a local drugstore in Algiers Parish was half full of non-food supplies (yes the pharmacy dept had been utterly looted). But for the most part the looters cleared out everything and anything. I saw two guys pushing an upright piano (price sign still on it) down the street. So while AZ RP has a good point and I may reconsider when the time comes, I think Ron G was prioritizing appropriately. If I could fill a van with non-perishable foods, vitamins, antibiotics and other medicines versus giving up a lot of space for clothes and such, I would prioritize the food. As would we all when TEOTWAWKI comes knocking. S.D.

      • Actually I was not suggesting looting at all. My point was that most of that stuff would be avaialable months after the bodies had decayed to bare bones.
        Beyond looting, beyond stealing, Scavaging. Although some people don’t see it, it’s not a bit different then picking an apple off a dead neighbors apple tree.

        • SurvivorDan says:

          True enough. It doesn’t matter if the desired goods (clothing, boots, blankets, cookware, tents, etc) are still on the store shelves or squirreled away in some former looter’s basement, the fruits of his labors. Said looter having expired the goods are now available for the……..picking.

  7. Since the area where we live lies in between 2 major rivers and one huge city our chance of bugging out and going to an area to hole up is basicaly nil.

    This made me think in another direction. We will bug in. There are quite a few resturants and other stores in our town we can scavange from if we need to. The ones that can be seen from the Interstate will be the ones hit first by the zombies.

    One other thing that might be considered while bugging in is to do a recon of your neighborhood to see what your neighbors have in their yards like BBQ propane tanks, gas cans and even a nice hidden place to plant a small food plots. No use putting all your food plants in one basket IMHO.

    Anyway I’ve reconed a few places in the neighborhood for places to plant food and for things we might be able to use after everyone bugs out.

    • “…I’ve reconed a few places in the neighborhood for places to plant food and for things we might be able to use after everyone bugs out…”
      You’d better make damn sure they’ve ‘bugged out’ and aren’t just playing possum as Gray Men or you’re going to get your a$$ thrown into a small hole at best and covered with brush.
      In my area, rural as we are, we know who belongs where and what the routines are. Anyone going onto another’s property and attempting to plant a garden is going to find themselves fertilizing that garden- if they’re lucky. Could just be the ditch again. Same goes for snooping around another’s buildings: Rule .308 isn’t something you wanna mess with, especially after the Poo Flies.

    • I forgot to mention this and others here did say this. We are preppers. With some luck we may be able to have put away enough things and learned and practiced enough skills to keep our famlies and ourselfs alive, fed and safe. But here comes Murphy’s law to bite you on the ars and Murphy will remind you that you “forgot” to prep something. Happens to me all the time no matter how many lists I write down and follow in order to do something. I always forget something.

      It may not be ethical to scavange from your community for things you and your family need BUT would it be right to watch your parents and children starve or go without something they need in order to be morally ethical? In a SHTF senario the name of the game is survival.

      So I’m gonna keep prepping and educating and training myself and my family the best I can for when the SHTF. Hopefully it will not but you never know.

      • No, I’m agreeable that when it comes to feeding the family, there’re few things I won’t do.
        Of course, Murphy is an a$$hole, to be polite toward him, and pokes his head in at the worst of times- especially in my life. And none of us, more than likely, have ever been through anything like what will soon be upon us, so Mr M will have a ball reminding us ‘you forgot this and that and that other thing’. None of us will be 100% ready (well, myabe the Yuppie guys…).
        But we have to understand as well that whn it comes to private proerty, it is private for a reason: and some, even neighbors, may take offense at another coming along and making themselves at home.
        So, perhaps my point would better have been made if I’d said something such as, “Learn to do without what you don’t have, or trade for it rather than decide to commandeer what belongs to another. Think 1800’s and earlier.”

  8. Good topic; should be continued to be addressed more completely.
    But the time frame may be a little more complicated than writer suggests; owners seem to have strong possessive attitude under such circumstances. Emergency or Martial Law will make the tired cops
    shoot first (if they’re still around) and what about the employees? They know, and need what’s in those stores. Many stores will suffer from from fire damage at that point. Antibiotics sitting on drug store shelves??? What about the need for a look-out while in the store?

  9. Another place to scavenge for food is a school. Schools are full of canned goods, usually in some quantity. Soap, toilet paper and other supplies may be available also as they have to prepare for the daily onslaught of childrenduring a normal school year. So if you gat there at the right time, there should be plenty of supplies available that no one would think of. Also, check the nurses office for minor first aid items.

    • Tim,
      Good idea. Also, around here many of the schools heat with propane or fuel oil and have large (as in not easily moved) tanks out back. Having the equipment to move the tank, or the equipment and knowledge to drain the tank could also be useful. If there’s a bus garage there also may be propane or diesel if you have the means to extract it from the tanks.

      • lone survivor says:

        Yeah, and a school bus would be good in your yard (if you have enough room) to hide in or use as sheator if looters/gangs are going house to house in your area looking for goodies. They wouldn’t bother looking in a school bus. Plus if you had to leave in a hurry, it can knock down or push aside vechiles blocking the streets and roads.

    • Southern Girl says:

      I for one would stay away from schools, because they always use them for emergency centers. So if it is a bio-agent (hazard), pandemic, etc., that’s where all the sick people will or would have been. Painter’s or surgical masks will not stop virus or bio-hazards. Any large place they can put people that are sick or hurt, is a place to stay away from.

      • Southern Girl,
        I’m assuming that if you’re in the scavenging mode we are long past an organized agency using a school as a shelter. In the case where they still are, then the time to scavenge is still a long way off.

      • Encourager says:

        I agree with Southern Girl. Schools are usually used for emergency shelters, as are local churches. It would all depend on the disaster that has happened; if it is a pandemic, you wouldn’t catch me within 5 miles of those places. Same goes for a hospital. Folks, we DON’T know what will happen. So you had better be preparing for anything. Just keep doing prep work every day. If you can only do the basics, have water, food, shelter and heat. Buy sleeping bags that are good for below zero. Have ways of keeping your feet warm and dry. Dry your own veggies crispy – they will last a long, long time properly sealed and take up little room. Much cheaper than buying commercially dried food; trust me, it isn’t hard to do! Even if you end up eating beans and dried veggies five days a week, you have food to eat. Prepare for emergencies, such as a fall, or a serious cut. Know how to take care of them. Take classes, pick brains. It isn’t all about how much you’ve got, how many lists are completed. PRACTICE what you need to know! It is fine to have nice binders with all the info, but an emergency is not the time to learn how to do what is in that binder! It is one thing to say you will be able to find antibiotics at an abandoned pharmacy; it is quite another to already have bought some from a farmer supply store and KNOW how to use them and why. Use a (dead) chicken to practice how to stitch up a wound. Then serve it for dinner! More fiber!
        Prepping can be very overwhelming. And time consuming. Stand back occasionally and take a look at all you have done. Can you survive with what you have accomplished? Do you have weak areas? Have you gone overboard by buying something with a short shelf life just because it was such a deal? Be balanced. Get rid of excess. Use the funds to build up your weak areas. I hope I will have enough to keep my family alive as long as the good Lord wants us alive. The Bible says do all you can, and when you have done, stand. That is when God takes over.

  10. I saw it in Katrina, Andrew and to many more to list. They go after to stupid stuff and leave the food and dry foods alone.They go after the drugs, beer,(understand that one a little, a hot beer, yeech), big tv’s , computers, big boom boxes, etc. What good is a 72 inch TV if no power, what good is 25 computers ripped off from wallyworld if no internet or power. Surprising they leave most of the clothes, 2 way radios, dry beans, canned vegtables, rice, things that could be a use for them.

    • BigD…..
      The folks you describe here are in a “short term” emergency, either of their own making or maybe a weather event with a near term ending (or other solution). The stoleln items, you describe, will be quite usable in their near future and they know it. In a real SHTF situation or something of a lasting duration, I believe you would see a whole new set of rules. Those who tried to live as if the old rules still existed may do so at their own peril! Surviving trumps civility. That concept, as distasteful as it is, will just be a fact.

      • Hawkeye,

        I am not convinced that the masses (those who would steal big screen TVs when they have no home and no electricity) have enough foresight to distinguish between a short-term emergency and a long-term emergency. To draw such a distinction, you have to have communication (to see how bad the situation is, both in severity and in scope). Remember, these folks thing government exists to take care of them. It may never really occur to the masses that no one is coming.

  11. riverrider says:

    thought provoking…..i’m not sure where the line is, if in fact there is one. to me, ones property is ones property until he/she decides its not anymore. i’m not sure i can call it abandoned if it is still in the store/home. the owner has a right to expect that, inside their domain, their property will be there when they return. my idea of scrounging is more like taking discarded things and making use of it. that said i wonder would it be right to take, say left over ammo, if you find a person dead in their looted house? does death assume abandonment?

    • riverrider.
      How would you describe someone who lays down and dies of starvation beside a pile of usable food…..because that usable food belongs to someone else. The word”Stupid” comes to mind. If the “Fit really Hits the Shan”, the true meaning of “Natural Selection” will become apparent. They call it “Natural” for a reason.

      • People who dont know how to live off the land will be the first ones dying. If you know how to find food, know what is edible, are willing to eat almost anything that crawls around, you will not starve. Indigenous people have been doing just this all over the world for thousands of years and surviving without resorting to theft. Isn’t that the point of learning survival, to be self sufficient, no dependent on what others may have left behind? Watch bizarre foods sometime and see what people eat in other countries, I would rather eat something less appealing than what my usual fair is than have to steal to eat. It can be done, learn what you need to know now. How many pigeons do you see every day? The romans used to eat them all the time, many people in other parts of the world still do. I am not above it if I were hungry. Stock up on a slingshot or air rifle and or bird shot.

        • HeyMickey59 says:

          Hehe, MIKE S., just the other day I was wondering how Buzzards taste! We are out in the boonies with some cell towers used by the buzzards for nesting. They predictably come off the towers in the morning to feed on roadkill, etc. and in the evening they can be seen cruising back home for a night’s rest. Heck, even some of them hang out with a neighbor’s domestic ducks. We once had a dead animal on the back of our property and I counted 70 buzzards waiting their turns to dine! And we do have wild Mallards that come to me when I bring out some food. So, that being said, there will be more poultry on our table than just the hens I will have shortly! Now….I just gotta figure out how to cook possum!

          • LOL, funny, HM! From what I’ve heard about buzzards, if you can get past the smell… there’s more meat on a seagull. Imagine going to that carcass they’re eating on and take a whiff of it after three days or so…
            You can google possum recipies and have a field day writing down recipies.

        • If it were really a TEOTWAWKI type of event, after a short time frame finding anything walking around that isn’t human would become something of a rarity around major population areas. Once people begin to starve, I’m guessing a lot of things that they would never have thought of as food would begin to look like dinner. Even during non-SHTF times we have game limits specifically to keep recreational hunters from decimating the forest wildlife. If every hunter and non-hunter need to hunt to keep their families from starving…

          • Yeah, I live in southern california, there are not many hunters around here, no compared to other places anyways, and especially in the city, there are fowl a plenty already, pigeons, seagulls, pelicans, dont know what they taste like, but I would definitely eat one if I had too.

      • riverrider says:

        i would describe that person as righteous. better to die that way than die a little later in the wrong. kharma has a way of catching up to you. E=mc2. you can call names all you want. the “natural” selection only goes so far. first, i have enough food to last at least 3 years. second, if i die an honorable death, not at the expense of others, i believe i will live a better life in the future than one that takes advantage of others. energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. survival at any cost is not the same as living. food for thought.

      • In RR’s description of the event, I don’t think I’d have any qualms about taking from a DB- they don’t need it any more and waiting for a relative to come claim it will most likely let it go to waste, so it’s ‘abandoned’. Not certain I’d enter a store, though- especially if it appeared to be in use by the owner (or another, period).

    • If the owner is dead , its still theft but with the visual impact . Its not yours and you know it and can see who it does belong to . No getting around that .I would think at that point , you would feel more like a grave robber than a scavenger ( extra element of shame ) . Thing is , if your in a house or store , your there to take , Period . Your a thief . Necessity may dictate that you do it , but it is what it is I agree . Soldiers cut off in the Battle of the bulge had similar feelings about taking things off their dead , but they made a rule , no personal affects , only what uncle sam issued . I would most likely take the box of ammo and other things ( if your there , you intended to do it anyway ) and deal with the internal issues later . My idea of scavenging is an overturned or clearly abandoned car or truck off the side of the road ( there will be plenty of those after TSHTF ) . Would I wonder who ? yes , would I do it ? yes . Freight like 18 wheelers and trains would yield higher quantities without the personal property invasion impact . Trains are another interesting avenue . I would think its possible to find one off the beaten path fully loaded , especially if the people running it were forewarned not to enter a city or area . Derailments , or rail gridlock , forcing some to stay where they are even if its en route someplace .

      • Next time your stuck at a railroad crossing , take a look at the different types of cars a typical freight train is pulling and how many . Fuel , flatbeds , box cars , cattle , etc . If one were found intact out in the sticks , it could be a cornucopia of needed gear . Much more than you could take in several trips . Even if casually looted could provide you with several things .

      • riverrider says:

        tr, i’m with you all the way on this one.

  12. My Sister in law was famous as a teen for asking when her Mom was going to get anything to eat. She would say when she opened the fridg or pantry, “See there are only Ingredients, there’s nothing to eat”. A lot of people will die hungry because they don’t know how to cook. They will as you say consume all the alcohol and narcotics they can find and then start taking any pill to see if it will get them high, then they die. There will be lots and lots of useful stuff to be found. Just not consumables. Eveyday as I drive to work I play what could I do with that? I see stuff everywhere that I will use to creat shelters and other stuff. I will trade my salvage items and ideas to others for things I need. I even have Police crime scene tape to help close off an area. (pysops) Most people have been on a clothes shopping binge for the last 20 years. When the toilet paper runs out there will be plenty of rags to cut up to replace it.

    • HeyMickey59 says:

      …and the exsisting thrift shops have plenty of clothing that is quite usable! My thought, though, on “when the paper runs out” is to have extra phone books ( remember Sears catalogs of old), used dryer sheets (yes, I am saving mine!) and even some flannel or muslin cut into larger squares and edge stitched so they don’t ravel. And another thought on the phone book idea is this…you always see the new phone books by the mailboxes, even at empty houses. Get them before someone else does, scavanging is okay, if you know the house is truly unlived in. AND who actually uses phone books for looking up phone numbers these days! Yes, and even newspaper will work better than some stuff!

      • I would not suggest using dryer sheets. The skin is rather delicate on that area of the body. Dryer sheets have a lot of chemicals in them, some studies have shown them to be quite toxic. We have quit using them, in fact when using softener we use liquid in the dryer by pouring a small amount on an old wash cloth, then folding it and fastening it with a safety pin. Works quite well, and cuts down consumption of softener.

        • HeyMickey59 says:

          Oscar, I didn’t think of that! You mean even used dryer sheets? What if I launder them with detergent and then dry them? I know Amway had (has?) a fabric softener used the way you suggest, on a cloth in the dryer. But, I s’pose it would work with the other liquids. Thanks for the reminder. Well, and phone books and newspaper have ink, but I’d prefer an inked butt over a smelly butt! 🙂

          • Encourager says:

            LOL you guys make me laugh. Now for some practical info on using whatever for TP. After you tear out that page in the phone book, while you are sitting ‘doin’ yur business’, crumple the page, flatten it out, crumple it again. It softens it up so you can use it. Back in the Roman days, every Roman had their own sea sponge. They used that to clean themselves, then washed it out. Usually the last rinse was old wine or vinegar. Killed some germs, probably. It was stored on a ledge in the same spot every time so it wouldn’t get mixed up with anyone’s. You can go online and learn how to make diaper wipes and wipe spray. Obviously, adults can use them also.

  13. Amateur Gardener says:

    This is probably off topic, but it was sad to see on news the other night, a poor beating victim in England during riots , being helped to his feet by a few other individuals, who then proceeded to rob his backpack while h was wearing it. The victim was bleeding profusely and this was adding insult to injury. Glad it was videotaped, hope the thieves are caught. Shows how quickly mob mentality can take over.

    • Nuttbush54 says:

      I agree that it would be difficult to predict what people will leave, but we better be ready to defend our own so the looters don’t think they can take it from us. If someone is crazed enough to loot when cameras are rolling and wearing no disguise, they will try for our stuff too. Just like the guy who was robbed from his back pack, we cannot allow ourselves to become victims. The people in London were disarmed long ago, so they can’t defend themselves except with bats. Someone comes for my stuff, we won’t hesitate to defend ourselves. That is why we must defend our 2nd amendment rights.

      • Yeah , I never got why after two world wars on their soil , the Europeans still dont have the equivalent of our 2nd amendment . I wonder what it would have been like for the Nazis and Soviets if Europe would have had an armed population . The French resistance and others , once armed by the allies after the fact , gave them quite a problem .

        • TR,
          There is one European country that has the equivalent of the 2nd amendment. It is Switzerland which remained neutral during both world wars. It has been reported that Hitler, threatened to send a one-million-man army to conquer Switzerland during the Second World War and the Swiss response was simply, “Our whole army has only 500,000 soldiers, but each one will shoot twice.” Switzerland is also NOT a member of the EU and didn’t join the UN until 2002. They seem to be a pretty independent lot over there.

          • Good for them ! I wish we would go Nationalist Isolationist .

            • Encourager says:

              It is my understanding that every Swiss is required to know how to handle a firearm and shoot accurately. I was told most of the ammunition is stored by the local government, except for hunting ammunition. It is then handed out when needed.

      • We have all been disarmed in Australia except for the assortment of criminals/drug dealers. I am in awe as I read everyone’s casual reference to the 2nd amendment right to bear arms.

        We are sitting ducks here – we can join rifle/pistol clubs – and the legal requirements/cost of associated fees are shocking – and to have an assortment of guns/rifles – I’d be on the watch-list immediately. Gun owners will be the first to be rounded up when martial law is imposed.

        Keep and hide those guns now – because what has happened to us, and most of the rest of the world, can happen to the USA.

        If I come across as a little paranoid, it is because I am…rioting and demonstrations seem to be on the news daily this year…Greece, Iceland, Ireland, North Africa, London, India.

        People’s behaviour will grow even more unpredictable when the balloon goes up. I continue to plan and prep accordingly.

        Cheers from Down Under.

        • Chloe,

          Have you considered writing a blog post detailing Australia’s gun policy and what it’s like living and trying to prep and protect yourself their? Would be an interesting read…

        • Chloe .
          hopefully we will have another civil war before that happens . The cops are already outnumbered and in many cases outgunned by the bad guys now , the bulk of the US military ground forces are goose stepping around on foreign soil at the moment . If the SHTF tomorrow , I seriously doubt that the military and cops have the strength to enforce any martial law except in a few of the major cities . Just my thinking , could be wrong but I just dont see the numbers needed for a nationwide martial law especially when word gets out whats going down in the occupied cities , the feds may be having to fight citizen militias when they try to spread out . Rural cops that are close to their community may not even attempt to obey any orders of that nature . That and the fact that almost every American is disgruntled with the government in some way , even those in uniform ( they will think for themselves ) Shooting their own citizens is NOT what they signed up for . Those americans that have firearms and dont just intend to go peacefully ( there are many ) ……. one word comes to mind for the feds general situation ….. Stalingrad ! … a house to house , brick by brick nightmare . Lets take my state as an example , in Phoenix there are 3.5 -4 million people , say if a third of them decide they are not going to roll over . Thats 1 million people somebody has to try to subdue , this will be true of every state and city in the nation . I just dont see the strength in numbers or will on the part of those that will be called on to do it . could be wrong .

          Stars & Bars !

          • This is another reason we prep . Take away the idea of a government crackdown , and just say widespread looting and riots in any major city with a large population spreading out to the smaller towns . The area in square miles that these cities have , especially Western cities , would be a nightmare for authorities to try to control much less secure . LA , Phoenix , Houston , Dallas , Seattle , San francisco , etc. etc . no easy task with Trogs and Zombies everywhere .

            • If the government did decide to impliment martial law they wouldn’t even bother to enforce the new laws in the rural parts of America. Because there just is not enough man power to control people living where theres 100 or less people per square mile so if you live there or can get there you dont realy have anything to worry about. And no one from the city is going to go there, because there is not enough supplies to warrent the exodius. They will stay in the city where there is a large amount of supplies and government “aid”.

  14. Bellamotives says:

    This is a really thought provoking article. For me I somehow automatically think of marauders taking dead men’s shoes when I think looting. I do think death=abandonment. I think the article is right in that actual “looters” will take what they want/what they think will be valuable. I can’t picture in my head a looter grabbing a bag of rice & some cans of tuna. But I bet you the guy that slips in after the looters will. The question is will we be “that guy”? Not during riots, not directly after a hurricane, but if TSHTF, I’m pretty sure I’d pilfer/scavenge what was needed. Knowing me, I’d probably leave a note because I’d just feel guilty as crap if I didn’t. It’s still theft, even if you don’t know who you’re stealing it from, but I like to eat so I’ll have to find a mental balance I’m sure.

    • Thats it , we will also have to kill to protect you and yours from harm , it wont be pleasant, but it may be forced upon you . You or them , base and sobering . Another mental balance to deal with . Lets hope our plans will keep us out of that situation .

    • There was a show a while back called Surviving Disaster, and one of their episodes touched on the looting vs surviving mentality. They recommended leaving a note with a list of items taken and your phone number. They specifically mentioned NOT leaving an address, as those following behind would know where a nice little list of supplies would be stored. Any time I’ve thought of being forced into that kind of situation that’s always been my plan, safety allowing.

  15. templar knight says:

    I have a real problem with the ethics of this scavenging, as you call it. To enter private property, owned by someone, with the express purpose of taking something for your own use, is stealing. I really don’t know how one can make the distinction between the two, and by the time one could, everything will be gone. To expect antibiotics to be left in drug stores, when the employees and owner would be very aware of its value in a SHTF situation, is wishful thinking. To expect food to be at schools, when employees are fully aware of its existence, is not logical.

    Yes, one might find some clothes, but things of value will be looted very quickly. Yes, televisions and electronics will go first, but long before it would be ethical to scavenge, everything of any value whatsoever will be long gone. After the first orgy of looting(2-3 day period), a second wave of looters will descend like locusts, taking everything of any value or use. Some might consider this second wave scavenging, I don’t know, but remember, someone owns what you are scavenging. It sounds like an easy way to get yourself killed, either by other scavengers, or more likely by people who are hellbent on protecting their property.

    My advice to you, Ron, would be to buy the things that you know you will need, and cache them someplace, or just get a rental unit and store it there. To put your life at risk attempting to scavenge, when your time would be better put to gardening or raising livestock, seems to me rather short-sited, and the antithesis of prepping. We prep so we don’t have to do these things.

    • But don’t you agree, in the ultimate SHTF scenario, that your previously prepped products will eventually run out?

      • I agree with Templar Knight except about the storage unit.
        Those are always getting broke into.
        This is why we prep, so we don’t have to go scavenging.
        I think my life will run out before my preps do.

      • templar knight says:

        Sandyra, this was quite a thought-provoking article. I went back and read it again, and I see why we have a contradiction. I live in a rural area, several miles from a small town. Every building has a local owner, from the businesses downtown to the farmhouses in the country. There are homes a few miles from me on the White River that are occupied part time, and perhaps these would be the only homes that could be scavenged in this area. But I know some of these homes are retreats for folks who live in cities, and were someone to scavenge these homes prior to the owner’s arrival, the owner would be out their preps and reduced to starvation. I see nothing ethical about this. To condemn a neighbor to death is just not right in my mind. There was a reason a horse thief was hung in the Old West. To deprive a man of his horse was a death sentence. To deprive a man of his food would be no less.

        However, I did notice that Ron lives in a large city, where many properties are owned by large corporations and absentee owners. Perhaps that changes the dynamics for some.

        And yes, my preps will run out. But I have 65 acres of land, some of it in pasture and scrub, some of it good for gardening, and I’ve laid in 5 seasons of seed. I plan to use as little as possible of my 2 year supply of food, supplementing it with my garden. I also have 3 goats, and plan to add more in the coming months. In this way, I hope to be self-suffient. I don’t think I will have time to scavenge, what with security and all. If I lived in a city, I don’t know. Which is why I don’t live in a city. It would be impossible to be self-sufficient. That’s why I encourage all preppers to get out of big cities while they can. They will be deathtraps.

        • Agreed. And I would so love to get out of apartment living in the city. My dream is a few acres off in some secluded area. But alas, I have no money for such ventures. For now at least, I have to do the best I can in the city.
          No, I would never kill someone to take their food. But I think the author was saying that scavenging was taking things that have been abandoned. If they are clearly abandoned, I say, why not?

        • dort-munder says:

          I think you’ve nailed down an important distinction here; where you live will make all the difference in what is going to happen in a survival scenario. A big city will be quite a different matter than living in a rural or remote area. And we will all have to determine our threshold of what we would be capable of doing. My mind is already made up…I’m planning on being a survivor!

        • TK,
          I agree with you on the use of the stored food. It’s simply a buffer to keep me going until we can expand our garden and livestock to be more self sufficient. Having things like a garden right now, even if not large enough to seriously supplement your food, along with a significant store of seeds, will let you learn the skill required to make a garden grow, and supplement your current food stores. The essence of prepping is above all still attitude and skills. When the need arises, and the homestead becomes a fulltime job, you can turn your supplies and skill, along with the additional time, into a new lifestyle that is self sufficient, at which point you will hopefully never even see the specter of running out of food again.

    • Templar Knight,

      I agree that if you walk into someone’s home or business and take something, you are stealing. The intelligent thing would be to get as far away as possible from the looting. As someone has mentioned, we prep so we are not put into dangerous situations or situations that might compromise our values.

      However, I am with those who thing the store shelves will be completely cleared in a matter of days. I would have a hard time stealing from an honest person (the shop owners or homeowners). But I have no qualms about re-purposing stolen goods, provided of course there is no way to identify the owner.

      I think the most likely scenario is fire. The looters will burn everything to the ground. Remember, people don’t think clearly in an emergency and they don’t think clearly when they are over stressed, under the influence of a rioting crowd, exhausted, hungry and dehydrated. I think they will take what they want and destroy the rest.

      • Encourager says:

        I agree with you, Gayle. Fire will be the problem. Remember, most of the police and fire personnel will be home taking care of their own families. They may be on the job for a while, but they will also have the best communication and know when it has shifted from an ’emergency’ and TEOTWAWKI. Then their families will be most important. There will be no one to control the fires from spreading block to block. There will be nothing left. I pity those trapped in the cities!

  16. Tom the Tinker says:

    “Being ready to strike is key” Dangerous thinking. Several months post SHTF…. anything on the shelf…. or the floor… or the back room? Naw…. I have had the pleasure of bugging in during the L.A. race riot, the Rodney King riot…. not a race riot but one of the most well planned flash mob shopping sprees in our history, a police strike, a fireman’s strike and an ‘alledged’ Klan ralley that never happened… but the hoodies rioted none the less. In every case.. with out exception.. (redundency intended) the takers and eaters burned every….. thing… that could not be eaten, drank, carried away or (yes.. or!) worse if the.. thing.. was female. My daughters ‘soon to be’ left everything behind in Greece. One of my wifes Faculty was forced to do the same in Romania.

    Stuff left layin around…….. naw!

    • Agreed, working as a leo in los angeles county, I can attest that the goblins will leave nothing. If you want to scavenge you will have a better time waiting till the mass of bodies left behind have been picked over by the birds and then going on a well armed patrol, still trying to keep out of sight. To be honest though, the goblins ruin everything they touch anyways so good luck. Best bet is having enough food to get you through the first year, by then , your first crops may have come up, and the animals will all be fat and plentiful from all the carnage. Also, if you live near a water source, consider having fishing supplies. Remember, dont go out alone, two is one and one is none.

      It took the national guard and the marines to put down the la riots and it took them a long time, I agreed with ron that you dont want to be in the mix of that. The races will stick together more in the beginning, as in the riots, if you aren’t white, your alright, then they will quickly turn on one another and the killing will begin. remember folks, in most cities, many of the goblins already have a criminal network in the form of a gang, this will be effective to make the worst criminals more survivable, these gang have rank and structure and are often well armed. Some of them even send homies to the marines and army to bring back training to the gang. You do not want to confront them unless you are well trained and know how to set and ambush. Let us professionals do that, you can bet your ass that even when our paychecks stop, the number one goal will be to get the family safe and then partol for charlie. Most of us dont do it for the check, we do it because someone has to. My advice is dont look like a goblin or act like a goblin post shtf, someone may drop your ass on suspicion. I once had a guy tell me he wished government would fail so that he could just take whatever he wanted from whoever he wanted by force without fear of getting caught. I told he was mistaken and that we hunters would always hunt, paycheck or not, only when the grid goes down, the play nice handcuffs come off of us too. Your trial will be your deeds and verdicts will be instantly delivered by way of lead.

      • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

        Mike S, Well said.

      • what a bunch of BS. cops are just are criminal as the criminal in nearly every jurisdiction. the only difference is a tin star and a god complex.

        the idea of cops acting as judge and juror in a SHTF situation is scarier than waves of zombies.

        take detroit for instance. cops here only need a GED to get into the police academy. most are barely literate. i read their reports daily and am appalled by the dishonesty and criminality.

        • Tom the Tinker says:

          A rather good training experience for any of us would be to fly into Detroit Metro…. rent a car and head on into Detroit.. to one of the Casinos. Look aroung on your way. Look around the Casino when you get there. Blown out windows, jimmied doors, man hole covers stolen, entire high rise buildings empty and looted. Head up Jefferson Ave. to the Jeep plant… it is like a bermed walled fortress. Do not Stop your Vehicle…. keep moving. With you Passport in hand head across the River to the Windsor Casino and sit out on the steps after dark and you can hear the faint patter and crackel of small arms fire wafft across the river in the moon light. The Sour Cream of the City…. the world headquarters of General Motors… or at least the old one…. empty… looted…. Road Warrioresqe. Reality! Fact!. Any body wanna spend a night in there…. I’ll loan you a sleeping bag. The Orcs are out every night…. some can stand the day light.

          I’m 40 miles south of that……. keep it all Sam.

        • As with anything, there is a range of reliability in the police. Detroit or New Orleans cops, no.

          Mike S.,
          Please describe your view of someone that looks or acts like a goblin.

          • As previously stated by several people, that would include looters and anyone taking sht that isn’t theirs, especially by force. You may not be a bad person, but all anyone can judge you by is your deeds, basically, associate with thives and murdering gangs and no one will think you are a thief or a murderer. I think the basic difference here is that while you might shoot someone to protect your life or what is yours, I would shoot someone to protect someone else’s life or their sht.

        • I would be interested to know why your read police reports every day. Having said that, if you think you can do a better job, then do it my friend. Otherwise, enjoy your easy chair and just say thanks to all the people who stick their neck out so you don’t have to.

      • Tom the Tinker says:

        Mike S: I was.. sitting.. in my Burbank Barbers chair on Magnolia Ave, just up from Maraposa Ave, when one of my former PAL coaches walked in and asked his buddy… the barber…. if he could ‘barrow’ his carbine! He had already been to B&B up on Oxnard blvd. and they was Out of Stock. You would think a major metro Police Dept. would be able to ‘strap up’ all of it’s duty officers….. apparently not. The Barber politely declined…. I offered the fella my saddle carbine 30-30…. he brought it back cleaned…. it had a few rack marks on it.. but he did give me the 200 rds of 150 grain he had bought for it. I now live in Ohio via a couple of years in No. Carolina thankyouverymuch. Just one of lifes slices that made an impression.

      • Mike S,

        “It took the National Guard and the Marines to put down the LA riots and it took them a long time”……….They either brought the wrong weapons or not enough ammunition.

        • Nope, it was the rules of engagement that were jacked up. When you handcuff the protectors of society, it can be hard for them to protect.

  17. axelsteve says:

    There was allot of food for thought in this article. I would definatlly scout out some places before shtf. There is a ace hardware in n calif that also sells guns. Just knowing that may be helpfull not thinking it is just a hardware store.You may be able to resupply some ammo while getting a key cut.Looting a restaraunt may not be the best buy maybe you can get a 5 gallon bucket of bbq sauce.You may find a mom and pop gas station tucked out of the way from the hiway and be able to replenish on some fuel before it goes dry.

    • Axelsteve,

      I suspect that if it’s an out-of-the-way mom and pop store, there are going to be locals with guns and plenty of ammo to protect it. The prevailing thought will be, Enter at your own risk because I will defend the local food source until the death.

  18. Not to be picky but I’d not consider doing a re-con of my neighbor’s yard to see what they have prior to a worst case scenario. Is this in the event of their death or bugging out? What if they had family who arrived and found nothing left?

    This makes me glad I live where I do because no one can see in my yard, although we do have neighbors, and I wouldn’t think of re-conning their property because we’re bugging in.

  19. I think that we all will become some sort of scavenger, but it will be long after we have assessed how things are. And it will be for things that will make life easier for us or for trade.
    I agree that there will be little food left that will be fit to eat. No matter what building it is in.
    I think if all the population is left in a case of just a depression we are all going to be in a world of hurt and will have to be on guard 24/7. We cannot look to what happened in the 1930’s for comfort as to how we will make it through. There are Million’s of people more and that many more thugs and goons around.
    I think while I could if I were you and your bride I would at least fill the place up that you are in to the hilt or find another place to live now while you can. It maybe rough but consider how bad it could be later on. Or later if all else fails break down your bed and use the bedroom for just storage and get air mattress’ to sleep on in another spot.
    Hey I am thinking of rearrangeing things to where I can fill my bedroom up. If it means I have to sleep on an air mattress you better believe I will.

    • I have spread my assorted ‘stuff’ out at three different geographical locations – and am now scouting a fourth location, and depending on how much time there is before things get rough, there will be a 5th and hopefully a 6th location.

      If the situation deems it prudent to bug out – as least there are other supplies cached – some near a coastline, another in a hilly inland area, another near a small town – you get the picture.

      There may come a time to be suddenly mobile – so preps are already in place.

      If cannot use my car, will ride my 175cc trail-bike, failing that can ride my bicycle – or on foot, whatever it takes.

      I would be concerned if all my preps were in one place – once the military are ordered to scout out all the farms and countryside (once the food stores in the cities and towns have been confiscated and locked up by the authorities) all food/farm animals/OTC medications/garden produce, tools, fuel found there will be confiscated.

      Better to be able to evade and move on to the next prep area.

      My topographical maps are all laminated and in my car’s BOB.


  20. I’d have to be in a real die off situation to even consider just taking others things, how could you tell if a business is abandoned or not? Maybe the windows are out and it looks looted but the owner might be camped out in the back room waiting for revenge on the next looter that steps inside. This scenario is hard for me to comprehend, maybe I need to but more thought to it. I’d probably be the one that would wait so long that nothing would be left with any value anyway.

  21. mrretoric says:

    Looting becomes scavenging when all of the self righteous asses in charge(mayors, cops, liberals, etc) have either died off or left the area. Before then, anything is a target for confiscation and highly improbably, redistribution…

  22. After a major event (like Katrina), people will steal ANYTHING. We were on the Gulf Coast, 100 miles east of New Orleans. We owned a video game store and were in a strip with a grocery store that had just closed down the week before. We did not have electricity for 10 days; but, looters took games, systems, accessories, empty dvd cases, and anything else they could get their hands on, including a partial roll of toilet paper and the toilet brush. We wired 4′ by 7′ metal grids across the broken front door; but, they managed to push it aside enough that a skinny one or a kid could get in and unlock the back door. Then, they stole product by the shopping cart full. We would load our car up with whatever we could to try to save it and by the time we got back to the store an hour later, it had been broken into, again, and more stuff stolen.
    Finally, when we ran out of gasoline and couldn’t make any more trips to the store, I wrote on the windows, KEEP OUT___THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO STEAL !!! Looters broke out another window in front and cleared out the rest of the store in less than a week. Any furniture and fixtures that they couldn’t steal—they peed on.
    The beauty supply store, 2 doors down, looked like it had been stripped by locusts. There was NOTHING left 2 days after the storm.
    This was in a small town in Mississippi. To think that there would be anything left after a major event in a big city would be, I think, wishful thinking.

    • How small a town?

    • Next time you might consider doing what the korean shop owners did here in LA. Grab an assault rifle and give em hell, they mostly want easy targets, you stack a few bodies in front of your door, the rest might move on to greener pastures. F-ing animals. Locusts is another apt description.

      • lone survivor says:

        The motercycle magazines wrote during the LA riots, the street where the Hells Angels clubhouse was located, they blocked off their street and protected all the businesses on it and none were looted. They said the people were just small business owners and just trying to make a living and they (Hells Angels) didn’t want those businesses looted. they weren’t. I guess the looters would go up against the cops and others, but not up against the Hells Angels.

      • I would call the “rabid dogs”.

        • Tom the Tinker says:

          L.A. was… my hone town until 87. I go back occation… hell I have friends there. Go to Korea town now. Drive around the hood and you will see odd looking ‘markers’ in the streets. They are in fact capped threaded post holes. The City simply turned a blind eye and shut up. Korea Town can fence itself off rather quickly and they have the attitude to make you want…. to stay outside of thier fence. don’t buy It….. go look.

          • Tom the Tinker says:

            Hone…. hommey… hozly…. hiper….. HOME… yeah thats da one……….

            • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

              Tom the Tinker, interesting observation on the post holes. Got me thinking of local neighborhood defensive measures that could be taken….

  23. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    If I were the Omega Man, I’d scrounge after everybody else is dead or gone. But I don’t expect to be the Omega Man, so I prep accordingly.

    • axelsteve says:

      Amen Mike and Lint.

      • Worrisome says:

        Agree! Thinking that staying away and doing a hide and watch makes more sense. The longer no one knows you are even around and the less attention you can attract the better

  24. “Thinking long-term has been bred out of them over the last five generations.”

    Boy you said a mouthful there! So true. Sad but true.

  25. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    It will be very difficult for me to reach this point where I feel comforatble taking stuff. It would have to be TEOTWAWKI and not a short term event where I see alot of folks use that s an excuse to take anything.
    I hope this is a point I never see

  26. This is so wrong in so many ways. Just because the owner is not there does not mean it is abandoned. He may be taking care of his family. Even if he is laying there dead does not mean it is fair game, he likely has heirs and the ‘stuff’ belongs to them. What you advocate IS looting and IS wrong!

  27. I experienced it during Katrina.I think there motto was if u can’t eat or screw it piss on it. unless I had my shotgun that is !

    • Rhino,

      You have left out a few things–if you can’t eat it, screw it, smoke it or snort it, then piss on it.

  28. I can hardly believe my eyes!!! The comments some made! Either they are the most naive folks I ever saw or the dumbest! Coupla things; One, if you look at past examples…looters seem to be a herd type critter. Yeah, you may find where one or two are the only ones around but after a period of time they will either be dead or hiding out. A little bit of common sense needs to be brought up. I sure would not just decide all of a sudden to just go out and walk into places. Do some recon ahead of time. See if anything has changed re appearance of the place or are there people around that look like they could be the owners. IF….nothing has changed then check it out further. Have more than one or two people with you…security is paramount here! As for the idea that scavenging is looting…come on now. You’re going to put your family as well as your self in starvation or death from exposure to the elements?!! While the idea is noble….not taking things….think!!! You may have only two choices…take it or die.

    • I would have to go through a lot of down jackets before I died of exposure to the elements.

      • Curt S, Judith:

        We agree. That’s basicly what I had said in an earlier post. I just happen to believe that looting and scavenging, on the one hand and survival, on the other hand, is two entirely different things.
        Now we’re not talking TV sets here. They’re looting! I had said that to lay down and starve beside food, not eating it because it didn’t belong to you, might be described as “stupid”. Someone implied that that was “name calling” and un-righteous. I’m not terribly religious but isn’t it said that “God helps those who help themselves”?

        • Hawkeye,

          This is a misconception. The expression, “God helps those who help themselves” does not come from scripture. The closest thing is Jesus’ reference to David about entering the house of God and eating what he found because he was hungry.

          • Hi Gayle,

            I didn’t quote scripture here, or portend to. What I did say was that “I’m not terribly religious” and “isn’t it said………help themselves”. I believe I’ve heard that expression from multiple sources for decades?

            • Hawkeye,

              I didn’t mean to jump on you; I apologize. It’s just that the vast majority of Americans think that expression comes from scripture and it doesn’t.

    • Encourager says:

      Take it or die? Have you not prepared at all?? What exactly is morality anyway? I have a personal code I live by. I won’t violate that. Stealing is stealing. Them or us? That makes you no better than the ‘goonies’ you mention. What is the dif?
      Take care of yourself and your family by prepping. Put aside stuff to help others. Take in hurting, homeless kids. Love one another. The greatest commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. If I die yet hold up that code, so what? I know where I will be.

  29. To be completely honest, I will exhaust all possible options before resorting to anything that could be considered looting, but if I’m on the verge of death anyways, I’m going to do whatever is necessary to not die. I’d rather be an living thief than a dead moralist, but that said, I’d rather be a living moralist than a living thief.

    In any disaster, everything will be looted. Period. People will be pulling up floor boards for firewood eventually. Assuming certain items will be left behind for you to later take advantage of is…unlikely, at best. More bluntly, it is a poor strategy.

    If you are going to depend on it though, have some idea of how to get in. Don’t just absently assume, “I’ll get in and get out–easy as that”. Know HOW you’ll get in and get out first.

  30. There is always storage space just google Ikea small spaces for some ideas. They have cheap storage ideas ranging from under sofas and chairs to under beds, they have ideas for creating extra storage in the bathroom and how to add closet space to a small bedroom. If you need long term food storage, a yard and a garden with privacy fence is your best bet, but don’t forget the seeds. It is better to keep a couple years worth of seeds on hand which take up minimal space than to be without food in the future. Improve your soil now and practice growing and harvesting food now. We are conservative mode at my house and are cutting done on the water bill but we are still harvesting the green bell peppers and cooking them in the eggs. Start getting creative you’ll never know what you’ll figure out.

  31. Ethics of a SHTF situation is something I’ve pondered at great length… Consider this – in an out-and-out war, many of the “ten commandments” are thrown out the window – or at least set aside. There is killing, for sure. In WWII if there was a farmer’s chicken roaming around and you had eaten only K rations for awhile, believe me that chicken would suddenly become dead and roasted. So much for stealing, too. In any war, there is killing and stealing, even by the “good guys”.
    So how is a SHTF situation different than a war? It might be a different kind of war, but I think that rules that apply to so-called “civilized” society will be changed somewhat. What wasn’t nice to do pre-SHTF is suddenly a matter of self-preservation in post-SHTF.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      Sandyra, In the original Hebrew, the commandment didnt say “Thous shalt not kill”, it said “thou shalt not commit murder”…..the translation got kind of messed up when King James had it translated directly from Hebrew to English. The latin translation was also not done correctly…or so I’ve been told. I cant read Hebrew, so not sure if this is accurate or not.

      • AZ,

        You are correct. The proper translation is “murder” and not “kill”. Many of the expressions in the original Hebrew, Greek and Latin simply don’t translate directly into English.

        If anyone is interested, the most accurate and readable translation is The Message, translated by Eugene Patterson. His grasp of the Greek is phenomenal.

      • I’ve been told the same thing, “thou shalt not murder”, by a preacher who can read Hebrew.

  32. It’s an interesting thought piece, but I tend to figure that surviving any such “die off” is the real trick. As far as scavenging, think about the clothes and tools you use to deconstruct things (heavy clothing, heavy gloves & boots, pry bars, etc.) and keep some of those things around. You will need to get into places that were difficult or dangerous for others to get into… and also get lucky… I would bet more on trade re-establishing itself than on needing to scavenge for things I don’t have in some wasteland.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      Jeff, I think you are correct on the trade re-establishment, but again, it all depends on the level of SHTF. If we’re talking about “The Road” type scenario, might not be enuf people left to even do that….

  33. we are preppers. all of us here are preparing ahead of in case SHTF. i don’t think anyone knows what they would really do if you were one of the few lucky ones to survive. would you beat or kill someone for a can of beans or would you walk away and hope to find something else down the road. until that time comes and i am faced with that reality, i will go on preparing for my family. i faced dying several times and i would be lying to say i’m wasn’t scared but i dealt with it. i could walk away rather than taking something from someone needing it more. but i would really have to think about it if my family was going hungry. hope i didn’t offend anyone.

    • You didn’t offend me, I have always looked after Numero Uno.
      I would take the can of beans hands down.
      But I don’t want it to come to that. That is why I prep now.
      But I have no doubt someone will try to take what I have. And at some point we will be too old to defend ourselves. But not right away.

      • “Too old to defend ourselves” What? My grandmother carried a two-shooter in her purse until the day she died. (And I have no doubt she would have used it if necessary.)

    • I’ll tell you M.D. if you erased my comment because I answered the question by saying I would take the can of beans, then this whole thing is getting a little too politically correct for me.
      Lets face it. If things got that dire we would be eating each other , so what is taking a can of beans?

  34. SrvivlSally says:

    Nice article, Ron G. Sorry to hear that you do not have the space available that you would like to have and I really sympathize because I know how your situtation will be when the world turns upside down, possibly leaving you with little to no choice just to survive. I wonder if the fryers or ducts would be cleaned out of grease in most places because that would be useful for making lighting and possibly be able to trade or barter with others that might have what you need or could use. Watch out for hiding flesh eaters because, wherever you go, you can expect that there will be eyes watching you and they may decide to use that to their advantage. If you get out one time, never return for a second, because you may be setting yourself up for something dangerous. I feel lucky because I have places where I can cache food, a way to sprout seeds in my own home and I never would not have to go out into my local world where I can be seen and followed right to my home. It would be no fun if I had been out one day looking for things and then three days later I was ambushed on my way home after another day out foraging. Protect what you love by never doing anything that would put it at that kind of risk because once it is gone you may never get it back.

  35. "Big Jim" says:

    Remember tho if you have to go on a scavenging recon and retreval,
    that while your away from your shelter ,others may be taking what you have already! So,if possible never leave your property unattended and get back as fast as possible . I have already went thru a small dose of scavenging because of hurricane Rita. We went 6 days before we were faced with having to siphon gas from abandoned cars , convienient store’s of a couple of neighbors , and even spare car parts that were compatible . On day 10 the National Guard showed up and gave us ice,h2o , 2 cases of mre’s and told us under mandatory evacuation we needed to leave ! We had been thinking systems would be back online within a week but, it turned out to be 11 weeks total. That was the event
    that made all of us preppers. I repaid my neighbors for what we used , and I felt bad not a lick…my family had precedence ! My house was left alone in our absence….go figure !

  36. Judy(another one) says:

    Quite frankly, I see people with this mind-set being shoot or strung-up by others who are tired of being robbed. So why not practice the 80/20 rule? Dump the 80% of your possessions you aren’t using or are frivolous, so you have the storage for the equipment you think you need. Why chance getting shoot or strung-up?

    Also, as I read this article this quote from Viktor E. Frankl, M. D. came to mind, “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

    Do I choose to take things that don’t rightfully belong to me? Or do I choose to learn the skills that will keep clothes on my back and my feet shod? Do I choose to take food and water that is not mine? Or do I choose to learn the skills to grow my own food and get my own water? So what do I choose? I choose to be as prepared as possible, then use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without. I wish to end this life with no more regrets than I already have. The load is heavy enough as it is.

    • judy(another one). you are so right about trying to have no more regrets. you try to do the best you can and when the time comes at least you have the knowledge that you did try.

    • Best reply on here Judy!!!.. Those who take the high ground until their last breath will achieve the ultimate prize.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      Excellent answer. Thanks Judy (another one).

    • templar knight says:

      Judy(another one), what you said so eloquently in that final paragraph defines the difference between civilization and barbarism. I want to believe I’d choose to do everything in my power to support the re-establishment of civilization in the case of such an event as the author describes. Of course, I’ve not been measured yet. Only God knows.

    • Your last 2 sentences were priceless & sums it up. Thank you.

    • Tom the Tinker says:

      Oh Rah Ma-am! Ye are a Poet and a sound one. You are why I love this place…. among others.

  37. Hunker-Down says:

    In a far reaching SHTF condition, the rules will change day by day.
    The zombie mind will start with; break in, take drugs booze & money at the risk of being arrested. Then, go get high and sleep it off. Try the same the next day, & the next until everything they want is gone. Now the rules need to change again. Next, find a place to steal T/V’s, guns & anything they could sell pre SHTF. When they realize it’s worthless because they can’t sell it, change the rules again and find a place to steal food & something to keep them warm (or cool). Their priorities will change day by day, and so will their victims. As drug addicts go through withdrawal, they will shoot, stab or beat with sticks anyone weaker and in their way. For a while they will be killing each other, and then over time they will need to look for more victims to satisfy their needs. Zombies will act in this manner from day one; sheeple will drift into the same mindset as their children begin to starve. If they have to deal with you because they perceive you to be stronger they will use lies and all sorts of deceit to get from you whatever they want.

    When the authorities remove the dead, there is still some semblance of law. When the bodies are no longer removed, the rules change again. Now they can do anything they want without the threat of being arrested.
    Now is the time to organize into groups and go house to house stealing, raping and killing. Their first several attempts will be failures to some degree, but they will learn as they go and get better at it.

    After a national SHTF can you tell if the next person you meet is a zombie, a sheeple or a prepper?

    I hope we can stay hidden in place an not have to expose our-self by “shopping” in the places those folks will be hunting, perhaps for food, or perhaps for me.

    What does zombie speak sound like? What does honesty sound like?

    As for me, I’m deaf to both so I put my trust first in God, then in our preps.

    • H-D,

      I agree with you, and the progression you’ve listed. The sheeple will become like the zombies when they start seeing their children starve–desperate people do desperate things. I have serious doubts about the abilities of the zombies to survive much beyond the looting phase. They simply lack the skills necessary to survive. Either they will try to break into the wrong home (in which case they will be shot) or they will die of dehydration. Once the trucks stop delivering food and water, and once they’ve cleaned out the stores and the easy-to-rob-homes, there done for. They will start killing one another–just like they are doing in Africa today.

    • Hunker-Down,
      You stated in part, “can do anything they want without the threat of being arrested”. If society has reached that point then you and I can do the same without that same threat. Soon there will be many Zombies assuming room temperature, and the rules are no longer in play, because the game is over.

  38. Thanks to everyone who has (and I am sure will) comment.
    This was a hard article to write and I knew when I submitted it that not everyone was going to understand me. Thats why I wrote the NOTE: at the begining. Please read it again.
    I am very well aware of New Orleans, Watts, Rodney King, and other blotches on our social/cultural history but remember, all of those events were short term. Participants knew that a week later the trucks would be delivering, and starvation was never a factor. That allowed looters to place personal gain as their motive. It also allowed them to strike out at those who they choose to see as oppressors, for real and imagined wrongs, by burning down business’s etc.

    I guess I also made the mistake of adding a Post Script.. That really should have been a second article and contained more detail. The key however, is this, “there might be a time that I would consider”. This my friends that is not a plan.
    And when I wrote, “If someday your situation exists like what I am going to outline, then press on as you see best. If not… then get the hell out and don’t look back”, I pictured it this way. The populace had woken up to the fact that the Fan has splattered and I am trying to get home. I know the limits of my preps and I see a chance to add a little more. I was not expressing the idea that I would go out with the intention of visiting restaurants. Poor wording on my behalf.
    One last general comment. Location! Location! Location! I live in a metro area with a population of 700,00 and we are in the desert. This place has built out and not up. shopping in not something we do on foot. Usable Water is 900+ Feet down. The soil is sand and caliche. It supports ant life and that is all. A garden would be a waste of energy. IF I had raised beds with fertile soil and could grow something it would be visible to the world. Poor OPSEC as I live in an RV Park. And Renting a storage unit has crossed my mind but there is no reason to expect it to be any safer to go to then the nearest walgreens 3 or 6 months after TEOTWAWKI.
    One more last thing. After TEOTWAWKI the retun of Civility will be mankinds only chance. However, until we can obtain some resemblance of that honorable human trait we should not allow it to become a suicide pact. IF I NEED building materials or fuels and Lowe’s is sitting there abandoned, I will get what I NEED. It is no different then finding mushrooms in a forest. If you still dont understand then please think about what AWKI means.

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      Ron, I don’t know why you would live in an RV park if you believe things could get to the point of TEOTWAWKI. The RV is OK, but park it somewhere other than an RV park. That little move could be the difference between thinking about scavenging to stay alive and thinking about prepping in overdrive. I perfer to prep in overdrive, put my energy there. But I live in a house on a city lot and have fences to provide privacy.

      Ron, MOVE!

      • I think that Lint has it. Get a trailer, it’s enclosed, wheeled and you can fill it to the top with stuff. Keep it on the cement pad next to your home. Take off with it when it is time to go.

        You can’t stay in the city – it will start burning down. Not only with stores but, everyone who just has candles – will start dropping them on their carpet.

    • templar knight says:

      Ron, you wrote this article as a what if, and it was very thought-provoking, and a worthy exercise. Please don’t take any criticism personally. It is important for us to hash these things out ahead of time. If this article spurs one person to take the action necessary to add more preps, use caches, or move to a better location, it is a huge success.

      • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

        Ron, I agree with T.K. While I might not agree with all of your post, it is important enough to make me think. None of us will have the answers until it comes to that moment. I would also agree with L.P, why subject yourself to the restrictions you have by living in a place that limits your prepping? Its not always easy to do the things that are required to save ourselves, whether its trying to decide to “scavenge” or not, whether its deciding to move to a better location, whether its squeezing a trigger to defend what is ours or not, etc etc etc. ‘Easy’ solutions are sort of what got us into the mess we’re in now…the ‘hard’ solutions are what make us people, not sheeple.

      • TK, it would be a lie to say that some of the comments were, at first, taken personal. But I realize that everyones circumstance was different then mine and they were judging from that point of view. Perfectly normal. The fact that many people carry fishing gear in their BOB and I don’t (since I live in a desert) does not make them wrong.

    • Tom the Tinker says:

      Ron: This post script lends itself very well to you orig. post. It ‘fills’ in many a hole that had me second guessing you. Good work Sir… Ma-am>>?

  39. i’m having a problem with this. i was raised that if you don’t make it; earn it or trade for it It’s Not Your’s; if you cross someone else’s property ask first; if hunt or fish someone else’s land always offer part of the harvest. he said “the difference between looting and scavenging is minutes” I can’t agree with that. If something is truly abbandoned it ‘s months or years before i would even think about taking it and more than likely my conscious would make me give it to someone more needy with NO strings.
    That person who wrote the article has a LONG WAY to go to understand prepping and true self reliance. have i stolen in the past ? yes i have.stuff i needed ? no. greed and a meesed up head told it was alright. woke up one morning and someone a had flipped a switch and the conscious was back on. i don’t have to live like that anymore and i enjoy a great sleep after prayers. ain’t perfect; never claimed to be. would i kill to protect my family? yes. steal to feed them ? no. i know what’s edible in the country i live in. what’s safe and whats not. the same “weeds” grow in the city as the country. tainted? maybe. edible yes. pigeon in france is served as squab. rattle snake has alot of bones so does black snake. turtle meat does taste like chicken. the secret to good possum is “parboil”. remember squirrel is rat with a fluffy tail. the reason they leave one foot on hare in the grocery store is: to make sure it’s not cat. true queen anne’s lace is wild carrot. look for the purple flower in the middle. the root even smells like carrot. LEARN AND GROW!

    • del,
      with all do respect to you and many others who feel they have a moral high ground, the times we were raised in were not TEOTWAWKI. Go back and read the Note at the beginning of the article. Read the article in that context.

      • Encourager says:

        Ron, Exactly what is a ‘moral high ground’? To me it sounds as if you think those of us who live by a moral code that doesn’t permit us to steal, are looking down our noses at those who don’t have that code. That is not it at all. And I don’t think that any explaining is going to help. I don’t look down on anyone. I answer to a Higher Authority who expects the best of me. And I don’t like letting Him down. So I prep. I educate myself to learn things I will need to survive. I find ways to help someone else.

        • This article was not written with a local emergency or disaster in mind. Not even a Katrina size fiasco. This is written for a national, the big schumer hitting the big fan, forget SHTF, think TEOTWAWKI, situation. Situations where local government collapsed a long time ago. Picture 300 million rotting corpses. It also is based on one big assumption, that you are bugging in and your plans, preparations, and Divine Providence are in your favor.
          With all due respect, IF for a moment that you think the “owners” of Lowe’s will be showing up to sell left over inventory then we are not on the same playing field.
          Not everyone had the ability to spend 30 years building their dream place in the country. Those who have should not be so quick to make moral judgements on those who don’t.

  40. I wouldnt count on anything being left in any store after a week or two.
    Furthermore, I would recommend avoiding civilization – cities, towns, rest stops, etc… altogether as that would potentially expose you to hostiles. You might not have much, but there will be people who will have nothing and be desperate to take what little you may have.

    • lone survivor says:

      Yeah, rest stops aren’t even safe anymore. Gangs hang out there waiting for travlers-because they know they have money, cameras, etc. we had a murder at a rest stop in my state. The people got caught and even admitted that they wanted to rob and kill someone!!

  41. This makes me wonder…There is a gigantic food service distributor in my area ( that employs a LOT of people by the way) They have a store attached for bulk purchases and such but gigantic warehouses too. I gotta wonder what their SHTF plan looks like – locally and nationally. They would likely be the target of every hungry person in a 50 mile radius. Maybe they would pay their employees (in food) to defend the place..Hmm?

    • It would be be a target of those who know what and where it is. Most people do not know these things. Never crosses their minds.
      Do they have a plan? If they don’t then they should have.

  42. Looting is what the government is doing to us now , scavenging is what they will do to us when we have no more money 😉

  43. Not an option at this time. Read
    Living, Prepping, And Planning, In A Confined Space

  44. Vienna (Soggy prepper) says:

    I’ve prepped so I don’t have to loot or scavenge. If/when neighbors were to bug out or disappear we’d probably defend their house for awhile. If it became apparent they weren’t coming back I would probably use their food or items I needed for my family. This is provided I knew they weren’t coming back or were dead. As for going to the city, I’m going to stay as far away as I can for as long as I can. Now, for me the real question is, how am I going to handle those that try to come and loot or “scavenge” from me!? Pretty sure the bodies stacked like cord wood will dissuade those following from attempting it. Hopefully they will move on to an easier target and not decide they are up for a challenge. I have kids. I won’t necessarily go out to scavenge, but I WILL protect what I have with a passion.

    • Tom the Tinker says:

      This is the third time I have surfed through this post. I learn more from the comments section… no offense intended Rom, you did motivate the disscusion…..

      I have enjoyed the thrill of close combat with other teenagers my own age…… I won ( Thank You for the opportunity President Nixon.. you son of bitch). A good close knit shirt will turn the edge of a Ka-Bar, worse if you run it into a zipper. The same shirt will not give you the same affect as a Hollywood slowmo of blood gushing out the ‘front’ or the back of a good hit. All you get is a hole. And it really pisses off the fella ya shoot.

      A few decades later, I wonder indeed, what is the point…. that second…. that instant… that nerve ending snap… that will actually ‘allow’ me.. make me… to do what so many of us in these blogs propose to do… or think we will while providing for ours… or defending the same. They.. be Po lice out there and they will know you by the bodies fanned out around your garden or chicken coop and while the ‘Mob’ may run like hell…. You.. will be right where the.. Po lice can find you, cuff you, lock you up and use the full force of the Law to destroy any possibility of you taking care of your family. Who defends whats yours after that? Makes me think. Makes me plan. Makes me wonder some.

      • I have enjoyed the thrill of close combat with other teenagers my own age…… I won ( Thank You for the opportunity President Nixon.. you son of bitch).

        I know exactly what you mean Tom. I was going to say “sadly” or “unfortunately” but those words really do not belong. It is only what it was. And Nixon was only the last years. Not the beginning but I share the feeling.

  45. Ron,

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking piece. I especially like the question: to what degree would you be willing to compromise your morality in order to feed yourself and your family? Personally, I would have no problem taking something that did not belong to me if I needed it to survive and feed my family. If I can identify the owner, I will pay restitution as soon as possible. If I cannot identify the owner, I will discharge the debt in some other way.

    I think what is most interesting is theorizing about time frames. How long will it take for the looting to wind down? How long will it take for the masses to die off? In a very hot climate with little access to clean water, this will happen quickly. As natural resources exist in more abundance, this will happen more slowly. However, as someone mentioned above, at some point the mob will turn against itself. They will fight over the limited resources, until finely there are no more resources.

    What your scenario tells me is that at some point skills will be more important than supplies, because supplies will dwindle but skills last a lifetime. And even though your home is small, you can do what is most important–learn survival skills. The stuff we prep is to get us through the rioting/looting/turning on one another phase. And I seriously doubt the majority of Americans could stay alive for more than six months, once the easy-to-get food is gone. Our supplies will help us through this transitional period. After that, it is up to us to rebuild some semblance of society. And it is at this point that skills will be key. At some point we must plant and rebuild. We must band together for protection.

    • Indeed. Meanwhile I will not be stocking a 2 years supply of toilet paper or shampoo. 3 months and a few phonebooks should do.

  46. Most everyone has already expressed the thoughts that I have on this subject.

    Just one side thought: if the looters have cleaned out the stores and restaurants, their next stop will be houses. I’ll stay home and defend mine.

    • Tom the Tinker says:

      PapaBear: Me too! I have taken yet another walk around the property to eyeball the odds and possibilites for ‘securing’ the bug in roost. I’m not stringing the razor wire….. just lookin!

    • Papabear and Tom,

      I think this is a very likely scenario–once looters finish with the stores, they will turn to the suburbs. I do think we will see significant cuts to social programs like welfare. And once the checks stop arriving in the mail, we are going to see mass protests. The government will probably try to quell the hysteria by having food lines but few folks today know how to cook with the basics–rice, beans and the like. I fully expect the masses to throw the inexpensive foods in the faces of those who are providing it, and riot, demanding cheeseburgers and fries. That don’t want to eat none of that poor people food.

      In fact, I really do not see how the U.S. government can continue to pay out for programs like welfare given the budget situation. They will riot. Clean out the stores and then turn on us. And then we will shoot them.

      America has two choices: (1) continue to fund welfare (in which case we are enabling them) or (2) shoot them when they try to break into our homes and steal our food. (Please note that it’s not really an option to share with them, because if word gets out that you stockpile food, you and your family are dead.)

    • Papabear, I dont think anyone ever suggest otherwise. I know my article did not.

  47. This post has came at the right time for me…….as outside in the streets the masses are rioting,robbing and looting in the wake of the initial riot in Tottenham,London which has spread to neighbouring towns and cities ending up in my home town of Manchester.

    What to do? If I had not been ‘prepping’ for many years now ,in this case, I still wouldn’t have been joining masses in there orgy of destruction and THEFT, which over here in Britain is what it was as the shopkeepers had most definateley NOT abandoned their shops—-they were just to frightened to protect what was theirs (apart from the Turks,who were standing in a mob outside their kebab shops armed with kebab knives and meat cleavers!).

    We all knew this was a flashpoint……a riot (although it had spread) which would be brought under control eventually, the police had it’s one-and-only water cannon on it’s way from Ireland!
    This situation did not warrant me using any of my survival training (apart from ;stay indoors until the worst dies down!) or any of my stash of survival food/medical supplies (as this riot did not strike at the infrastructure of our country—yet!..and didn’t last long enough.) or even for me to put in place, my survival ,TEOTWAWKI plans. Although, there are more riots predicted for the weekend!

    Although the cause of these riots were over the death of a young,black teenager by police……it just shows you that at any time,at any place a riot can start, which jumps to other cities and if the momentum is kept up, the rest of the country and before you know it the police are overstretched and overpowered……..enter the Military! But that’s another post!

    • Mikey-
      Thank you for posting this. Though we see video and images of the riots going on now in your country, there is no way to know what it is like for the people stuck in the middle of it. It is also really comforting to realize how little such events have actually effected the infrastructure… you still have internet, and so by extension probably also power, cable and probably sewer and water hookups. Many people point to such occasions of civil unrest as evidence for the beginning of the end… fearful for the spread beyond the borders currently holding in the trouble. Nothing is farther from the truth.
      The real beginning of the end will be far more dramatic and frightening than even what we see through the portals of our televisions and computer screens today. There have always, throughout history been outrages, mobs, and protests that have gotten out of hand. Always (at least up to now), these events have resolved themselves, (at least with an uneasy truce/peace) and civilization and commerce have returned.
      I suspect the same is the case in England.
      Thank you so much for a real, unvarnished window into the middle of the current event!

    • Correction: the man shot by police in London was 29, not a young teenager.

    • Mikey,

      Thank you for the post. I hope and pray that law enforcement will be in a position to stop the rioting. It is good to hear that the infrastructure has remained intact, and that the overwhelming majority of Brits are aghast at such mindless destruction and theft. I will say a prayer for you, your family and your country.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      MIKEY, I can empathize with you, it isnt pleasant being in the situation you are in. In 1988, I live in Seoul South Korea and from what was shown on the news, you would have thought the whole city was burning up. While certain areas were certainly a danger zone, and for blocks around those certain areas the smell of tear gas wafted throughout, once you get away from there, you wouldnt know there was any problem at all. I hope your home and those you care for are ok, and that all is under control soonest.

    • Thank you Mikey.
      For some reason Tottenham did not surprise me but Manchester and other locations did. (Go United) I lived in the UK from 86 to 89. Loved every minute of it and traveled all over the place. Would love to visit again some day. I probably understand whats happening (and why) more then the majority of my fellow countrymen but I will tell you, most over here understand we are not that far behind. Although no one has died yet (and our media is silent on this) we have had flash mobs in Phili, Peoria, Chicago, and Milwaukee. What is happening over there is just a sneak preview for us.

      • Thanks all for your words of encouragement etc……..

        Things have all but settled down now, there are young youth teams cleaning up the aftermath which proves that although there are bad, very bad people around, everyone is not tarred with the same political brush!!

        I am glad that I didn’t have to break out my crossbow ,which ARE legal here….400 FPS has some stopping power ……especially with broadhead bolts!!!!
        I will not go through my OTHER means of protection though……..!!

        I will do ANYTHING to protect me and mine…………….


  48. I can tell you from hurricane experience that people will grab whatever is in reach when there’s even a warning of pending doom. Winn Dixie was the only store near us after hurricane Frances, about 10 days before Jeanne hit and there was nothing left in the store. The emergency lights were on, cash only, there were a few employees there and they were closing up. People will take anything they can get. I went in to see what they had left and I got the intense feeling that, even though the shelves were empty, that was not a place I wanted to be.

  49. In reading through all the previous posts, I tend to think that for the most part, everyone is in agreement about the distinction between looting, scavenging and surviving. Opinions seem to differ with each poster’s vision of the circumstances. Every one seems to agree, that on day one of a situation, to run out and steal your neighbors TV is looting, it’s a crime and it’s immoral? However after six months of “a situation” and with starvation an disease rampant, eating something that you don’t have technical title to, is not stealing and not looting, though it may be described as scavenging. What it definetly is, is surviving; and surviving is not immoral.

  50. Josh,
    Thanks for the English lesson – however, I don’t think anyone posting here is attempting to win any awards for their writing skill. We are only trying to spread awareness and knowledge – if we can do that then we have done great.

    • Josh has the same disease as I do – constantly editing others’ work in my head. My excuse is a BA in English, plus half a lifetime of professional writing. Still, I do make mistakes sometimes. As to others’ mistakes, mostly I try to keep my mouth shut. Unless they’re another professional writer, it doesn’t really accomplish anything to critique someone’s writing.

      • I grew up with a grandfather who taught HS English back when grammar was still considered as part of the curriculum and have always been a grammar Nazi. Wife and daughter are the same; however, unless something is used so far out of context that you can’t understand the meaning, I try to limit my corrections to my own work. I’m here to teach and learn prepping, not English grammar and spelling.

      • My ex had a degree from UC Berkley in English. I did not divroce her for that reason but it contributed.

      • HeyMickey59 says:

        Josh, I agree. I have been asked if I am an English teacher, because I don’t hesitate to correct people if I think it will help! ANd I also admit I am not perfect and I do make mistakes!

    • LOL, MD- I edit what I write and STILL find tons of errots after it’s posted… :-\ Engrish? Wut’s Engrish?

      • It isn’t so much spelling that irks heck outta me, though… it’s more the ‘they’re’ for ‘their’ or ‘there’, or vice versus, and ‘your’ for ‘you’re’, and ‘me, mine, and theirs’… I better stop while I’m still ahead and haven’t made too many comma splices and run-on sentences…

        • Encourager says:

          LOL…so glad I am not the only one that cringes at bad grammar! I home schooled my youngest and boy, did he hate getting his work back when Mom went at it with her red pencil! In retaliation he bought a shirt that read ” I is a homeskooled studint.”

  51. I have a question that I would be interested to hear what you guys have to say. (This one has nothing to do with politics.) Why is it that in Western countries like the U.S. and England, young people act like pigs at the drop of a hat but that in Japan the entire population (old and young alike) are civil even in the face of overwhelming adversity?

    Having thought through the notions of self-sufficiency and honor, I have reached the conclusion that I want to be more Mormon-like (self-sufficient) and more Japanese-like (honorable).

    • It’s a matter of your culture and how you’re raised. Take a martial art, where honor is still valued. Better yet, take ninjitsu, where self-sufficiency is important, too.

      • Southern Girl says:

        It is how you are raised. As a “Mormon” we are raised to be self-sufficient, but not all are. Being part of a long line of a Military family we were/are raised with honor and pride, also how to shot a gun. At 52 I still say “Yes Sir, No Sir “and please and thank you, so do my children and grandchildren. The old values are not old or lost if you teach your children right. But this being said my son who looks like a “skin-head” still gets stares when he holds the door open for someone (male or female) or gets something off the top shelves for someone. People still ask he why he is helping them, he says “because I was raised right”.

    • Sense of self is a good reason for the way the children behave. Not to mention, the Asian nations are not multi-cultural countries with a hodge-podge of customs and ideas of what constitutes ‘proper behavior’. Rather, they’re homogenous with a cultural identity the same as the person next to them and know how that person was reared and taught to behave in society.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      Gayle, I lived much of my 20’s and 30’s all over the Far East. Dont be fooled into thinking that they dont have “pigs” there too, they do. There are some bad people there, just like there are in western countries. I’ve seen some aweful behavior on the part of teenage and 20+ year old asians. In South Korea, the “right of passage” into adulthood for many college kids during the 1970’s and 1980’s was to hit a policeman with a molotov cocktail during a protest. In Japan, some young people LIVE to “be the nail that sticks out”, looking for the “hammer” that nails them down just to get into a fight. China’s “one child policy” has led to some downright spoiled rotten people with the expectation that they can demand anything of their family and deserve to get it and will take violent action if they do not get it. So all is not completely what it appears….

  52. I hope I am not hearing what I think I’m hearing – that even among us preppers, who agree so thoroughly on the necessity to prepare, that we could be facing severe rifts even among ourselves when the SHTF on issues of morality. I sincerely hope not. We need to stick together and work out any differences, compromising when needed.

  53. With all of the comments (pushing toward 150) everyone is thinking about food. After the two or three week time period the author was focusing on there won’t be crumbs left. One thing I’m surprised about is no one suggested scrounging the local town landfill, maybe not for food but for pieces of lumber, metal, intact bottles and what have you. People will need to build or repair things for the long haul and the local hardware store isn’t going to be available.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      HB, that is certainly an option that not many people think of. A movie I saw many years ago when I lived in the Far East was called something like “The 5th Level Scrounger”. It showed people who made their living digging through the scraps at the city dump to re-sell items they found. This is actually a profession (if you will) in India and some other 3d world countries.

    • Anyone who can find food in our local landfill is going to be better than the bears and seagulls and crows that inhabit them. Reason being, with the enviro laws now being used, landfills are layered… debris/food stuffs/etc covered with a layer of topsoil/dirt… then another layer of debris… another layer of topsoil… etc.
      So finding something under all that will take some heavy equipment and no one, no matter how hungry, will be able to stomach what they find. (It’d probably be akin to eating babysh..)
      I do think there could be some useful materiel found in the confines, though. Freezer carcasses, fridges, stoves, hot water tanks, etc.

      • I can not imagine a more diseased filled environment. Any scratch or prick can end up fatal. And talk about labor intensive…

        MONTHS or YEARS after the Great Die Off that WILL be part of TEOTWAWKI… if I needed a freezer carcass, fridge, stove, or hot water tanks I’d just go to a place that USE to sell them and SALVAGE one. Actually, I am sure I can find one in one of the ABANDONED homes near my place and save the time, labor, and minimize the danger of trying to get it to my place.
        Now before anyone accuses me of looting, stealing or improper planning answer this question, How many freezers, fridges, stoves, and hot water tanks have you stockpilled?

        • HeyMickey59 says:

          I have been saying for years now that within my leftime (I am 51) we will see the mining of landfills. I think it will be mainly for recycleables like steel, aluminum and glass. Just think how much copper might be in older landfills. My DH thinks that the older landfills will be hard to identify and/or mine because parks, houses, etc. have been built on top of them. However, we all know of the hills of refuse that are just covered in grass. So…

  54. Plant Lady says:

    Wow, I am so very disappointed. I thought most folks here were about intelligently preparing for bad times – so we wouldn’t end in the position of “having” to steal to survive. I just shook my head in total dismay when I read folks proudly proclaiming that they are “preparing” by scouting out the neighbors’ belongings or a “country place” to steal at some future point. Gee, I really need to buy more ammo – lots more ammo!
    If you were truly preparing, you would be spending your time thinking about what you will need to survive and acquiring it now rather than planning thefts. And stockpiling equipment and raw materials and learning skills you will be able to use later to produce products to barter. There really is no excuse for stealing – if you had made the effort to properly prepare, there would be no need. Being too stupid/lazy/complacent to properly prepare is not a justifiable excuse. If you think you couldn’t possibly prepare for everything on your own, band together with like-minded folks and work together. In our area, we planted the big orchard, grapes and berries and are keeping small livestock, making cider, beer and wine, cheese, etc. to use as trade goods. One neighbor has large fields, large equipment and a huge barn and will continue growing grains and hay. Another has draft horses and all the equipment for them to be used to work ground and provide transportation for people and goods. Another raises beef, two have dairies. You don’t have to have everything yourself if you can learn how to share or to barter with others in your immediate area. God has gifted us with the awareness of the need and the time needed to prepare…so there is no excuse for theft.
    So many folks want to hang onto the convenient modern life until they “have to” make a change to a whole different self-sufficient lifestyle. If you wait until that “have to” moment, it is already too late. If you are planning on bugging out to the countryside at the last minute – be aware that those of us already living here will have a lot to say about those plans of yours…and most all of us grew up with guns in hand. There is no free land for the taking – we already bought it and have been paying the taxes on it. There will be no “sneaking in”…our families have lived here for generations and we know who owns what land and which folks belong where. The people who have only lived here 30-40 years are considered newcomers…and strangers are cause to call around, just in case. I always know at least 10 minutes ahead of time when the door-to-door religious folks or salesmen will be here, and I call others to let them know. We watch out for each other, so if you are planning on stealing from an “empty” place around here, you better be sure all the places for miles around are empty. We have lots of bored old folks with really good binoculars…and the rest of us are getting real twitchy on the trigger reading about other folks “plans” to take our stuff.

    • Hi Plantlady-
      You are right that ’empty’ does not necessarily apply when you are talking about the country. But the majority of people in the US (and most of the western world) live in urban or suburban environments. I live on a half acre in the suburbs and am busy making what I have as incredibly super productive and self-sufficient as a half acre and the local zoning laws allow it to be. But most occupants of the suburbs… and the city only just a stone’s throw across the river – will not have the knowledge or ability to survive on their own for more than a few weeks, if that. And there are far more people per square mile than there are in the countryside that will need to support. With my fruit and nut trees, berry patch, perennial garden, rabbits, and vegetable garden (with the potential to produce year-round in the very near future, thank you!) supplementing what I’ve managed to ‘lay by’ in my pantry and basement, my family won’t starve for a long time. Water is supplied by a well in the back corner of my lot, and combined with my rain barrels will suffice for water needs for my family, livestock, and garden. In short, we’re not going to be suffering if and or when things go to heck in a handbasket. But there are many, many around me who will not make it. If I know neighbors have left for camps or other safe refuge with family in the country, like you, I would consider it my responsibility to help defend what they have left behind. But death is another matter, and there will most likely be plenty of it. Dead men don’t need to eat, nor do they care who is using what used to be their tidy fenced-in back yard for an auxiliary garden space or duck pond. I don’t think they would mind us using it, either.
      Let us dearly hope this is all just a purely theoretical exercise and never comes to pass… but for those of us who are self-sufficient and have acquired adequate skills to survive, it may be possible to do so even in the more urban settings. But it will definitely take a bit more creativity, and plenty more provisions for security.

    • Perhaps I am really missing something here. It seems to me that the folks out in the country will be able to work with one another for a common purpose; they will defend each others homes and trade for mutual benefit. I do not see this happening in the city or the suburbs, primarily because we don’t know our neighbors like folks do in the country (and Plant Lady has explained) and the vast majority of our neighbors would be useless in a SHTF scenario. Now I don’t think anyone is talking about forcing their way into homes in the country to steal possessions (since they would get shot).

      In the city or suburbs things would be different. There would be an initial phase of looting which would presumably spread to homes in the suburbs. Poorly defended homes will be ransacked. Ultimately the thugs will die of dehydration. Now I think there is a difference between confiscating stolen property and re-purposing it and stealing from someone. Consider, for example, what happens when big-time drug dealers are arrested and ultimately convicted. The state confiscates the property that they purchased with drug profits, and re-purposes it for law enforcement. Drug dealers are thugs, and their possessions are not their property. The same applies to looters. They are thugs and their possessions (or, more accurately, the things they have in their possession) are not their property. In a total SHTF scenario, looting thugs should be shot and deprived of the goods they have stolen.

      The question arises: can we tell the difference between a looting thug and a property owner? Yes, the looting thugs are the one’s who are trying to break into your home and steal your property. If they are caught red handed and there truly is no law enforcement, then let’s string them up to a tall tree and let them swing. Failure to administer justice swiftly and decisively, is essentially condoning thievery, rape and murder. Let them hang.

    • Ms Plant Lady,
      Ones situations and ones decisions as to how we deal with those circumstances are based upon our resources available to us at the time, and that puts us where we are at any exact moment in time.
      While I am glad that you are clearly in the perfect place I would suggest that the rest of us are facing a reality that screams that we are not there yet. And since we have failed to meet your level please forgive us. Or adopt me.

      • Plant Lady says:

        Ron: The family does adopt handy folks…what skills do you have?
        My reply really read badly, I was trying to gently scare folks into immediate action without terrifying them into catatonia, so I will try to clarify. Let me start by saying I think something real bad is coming our way…not a year or two hiccup…but something bad that may last generations, so that is the perspective I write from.
        What I was trying to get across was two points…
        1. I am in the country, in a pretty good place with a lot of advantages…but I am scared. Scared that even though we do already have 24 acres of land and water, it isn’t enough land to actually support us and those we care for. Scared that even with the all the progress we have made, it won’t be nearly enough, soon enough – and that makes me really worried for folks stuck in cities and suburbs. Scared that if those folks don’t get out now and get some land to support themselves it will be too late. I have only been seriously working toward self-sufficiency for 3 years and am not even close to being ready for the worst…but even so in far better shape than anyone in an urban/suburban area. It takes a lot of time to prepare enough ground for successful gardening/farming and figure out how to plan then to grow/preserve enough of everything to feed your family and livestock from year to year. Then it takes more time to get livestock and figure out how to house, raise and replace them. It takes 4-10 years before a planted orchard starts to bear, a couple years for most berries & grapes and 10-15 years for nuts. You need time to learn what you need then gather the tools and equipment, seed and nursery stock, fencing and all the other things you will need and build places to store all this stuff. Plus it takes years to get to know your neighbors and develop a good working relationship with them. And if you are like us, most of this is new to us, so we are learning as we go. It is a whole lot easier learning now, actually working on these projects with the internet (especially this site, thank you MD), libraries and friends to guide us and having the luxury of being able to run up to Tractor Supply or the Co-Op when we “discover” we need this or that to work on a project. Plus, our mistakes won’t kill us now…can still run to the grocery if the garden fails or the livestock die. If folks wait until the last minute to “bug out”, its too late. Too late to purchase everything you need and too late to safely practice the skills you will need…so you probably will be “forced” to steal to stay alive.

        Second, to those of us already living in the country, those who bug out to the country hoping to find a free home and land enough to support them will be considered looters and scavengers – since they are planning to take or use something that doesn’t belong to them. All the arable land is owned by someone, so I am pretty sure the best you could hope for would be to become some landowners’ sharecropper/serf…unless you are a doctor, nurse, blacksmith, gunsmith, musician/storyteller or trader with a stock of trade goods. At that time, everyone will be too busy trying to survive to help you learn and the equipment, seed and livestock at that time will be more precious than gold.
        We made the real hard choices 30 years ago…foregoing actual wonderful career opportunities in cities to live here in the country, in the second poorest county in our state. That choice cost us about 75% of what we could have been earning in a city. And to work in my chosen career for the past 15 years, I have been commuting 130+ miles one way to work. What money we could make went into paying off the land and improving it. And we are very lucky now that we made those hard choices, because that is what will allow us to survive – and maybe even thrive – when the bad times come.
        So the time to make those tough decisions is now…time is running out. I know it is hard and circumstances aren’t perfect…been there, done that, still living that. If we could get as far as we have with extremely limited funds, so can you…if you hurry!

        • Bingo!! “We made the real hard choices 30 years ago”! And you made a very good choice with all the options that you did have. Myself… with respect…
          30 Years ago I was stationed outside Del Rio, TX. Having just returned stateside after my third overseas tour in 10 years. 18 months later I was in Georgia for 2 years, Illinois for 18 months, 3 years in the UK, about a year in New Mexico before 6 months with the first Gulf War (my 2nd war) followed by another year in New Mexico.
          On August 14, 1990 I flew to the east coast via commercial airliner. Since I had a M-16 and 300 rounds of ammo the crew took a lot of interest in me. One stewredess asked where I was going. I told her it was classified, (at that time it still was) but to watch the news and the next time she filled her cars tank with gas she could say a little prayer for me.
          It is all about choices my dear friend and I am very gratifide, and have no regrets, that the ones I made contributesd in some small way to making yours possible.
          If I had it all to do over again? Knowing how my fellow citizens will vote in people, in exchange for a welfare check or protection for thier union, and screw this nation up to the point it is today?
          I’d pick up the weapon, climb tha rampart and make it possible for my fellow citizens to sleep in peace all over again.
          Next week, next month, next year… I will do what I have to do.
          However I will continue to know the difference between “stealing” and appropriating something from a previous owner who is long dead and gone.

  55. Hi Plant Lady,

    I don’t think anyone here is PLANNING (and certainly not wanting) to “steal to survive”…..what most (many) of the posts lead to is; what happens if you get to the point of having to use something that doesn’t belong to you or perishing. Then uncomfortable choices have to be made. Most of us struggle with that choice the more we think about it. My bottom line is that-the rules change in that situation and I’ll say it again…..surviving is not immoral!

    • Hawkryr, the original article was written as a response to posts where I read people putting away a years supply of shampoo and toilet paper.
      I ocurred to me that that after 3 months of TEOTWAWKI that kind of stuff would be sitting on the shelves as starving people are not interested in it.
      After two years and 2/3rds of the population has died off I will replace my boots at the the place that use to be known as the Tony Lama retailer. IF the owner is there I will give him a pre 67 silver nickel or some other agreed upon item. Or I can go down the road to the place where the owner and his family did not, as far as I can tell, survive.

    • The point Plant Lady was trying to make, and one that I raised earlier, was that scoping out or “reconning” our neighbors’ property and belongings is incredibly intrusive and an invasion of privacy. Especially when it’s done prior to any SHTF event. It’s like laying claim to someone else’s property even though that property does not belong to us. It reeks of the mind set that if I failed to get what I need then I’ll just come get yours. And this is a very common misconception among some self-proclaimed preppers and a real concern among the average prepper. This is NOT okay to do.

      • I understand Ms Lynda and I agree 100%. Please remember that there is a big difference betweem SHTF and TEOTWAWKI! From what I am reading I get the strong feeling that not everyone fully understands that.
        Having said that, I would never suggest that anyone spy on thier neighbors and covet their material possecions (sp?). However, if my good neighbors, Jack and Tina, bug out and leave thier grill behind, I will confiscate that propane tank and take very good care of it till they come back.

  56. Thank you Josh, but the truth is… I would use “I”. Oh wait…. I always do.

  57. AZ Rookie Prepper says:

    For an interesting read on how tough times can dictate just what people will put up with, live with, go through, read the book “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan. It is about the people who stayed on in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. Many of those people lived in houses made of cut sod surrounding a hole dug in the ground. They lived with dust constantly blowing into mounds around anything that didnt move, scorpions and centipedes and other creepy crawlies living in the walls of their sod houses, eating one meal every 3 days, dealing with “dust” pneumonia, drinking mud water, years of drought, watching their children and livestock die from choking on dust, etc etc etc….but interestingly, I never read a word about looting or scavenging. It doesnt mean it didnt happen, but one thing I did glean from this is that most were too proud to ask for handouts….just an observation.

    • AZ ,
      I think your observation is correct . Im sure looting did occur but not on a regular basis as modern people will be doing . You must remember that people in the 1930s , #1 had more class ,#2 did not have a sense of entitlement #3 had more dignity and self respect . #4 societal conduct and peer pressure to do the right thing was very ingrained . Todays people , thanks to the decay of liberalism are lazy , entitled , with no morals or ethics if they think they can get away with it , have no self standards or accountability . The liberals agenda is to have one mongrel subservient people , with a socialist government to take care of them so they dont have to work , smoke legalized pot , play video games , and be acceptant of any deviancy as ” normal ” .

      • T.R.,

        “decay of liberalisim”? I think you meant to say “the spread of liberalisim”, didn’t you? It’s liberalisim and liberals “buying” votes that brought about the cult of dependency.

    • AZ,

      I am reading this book now–I conjecture that there was no looting back then because no one had anything left to loot. This book has been a real eye-opener. A significant difference between the 1930s and today is that back then folks knew how to live off the land. What really stands out is the degree to which these folks got hood-winked into buying crap land–sort of like derivatives and subprime mortgages in 2008.

      • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

        Gayle, Certainly there were major differences. People did have a different lifestyle. Many many people lived off the land. I also must admit a mea culpa, I did find a place where the people asked for help from the federal govt, but they didnt ask for handouts, they asked for jobs….quite a difference. And Gayle, yes, the sham of the land sales was a real tragedy. Sort of like what we see today perhaps?
        Hawkeye, I think T.R. meant that liberalism caused decay, not that liberalism decayed.
        Mostly I suggest reading this book because it shows just how much people can put up with, how much people can deal with, how much people can truly get by with (or without).

        • AZ,

          I am about half way through the book and I’ve had a bit of an insight. When conservatives decry regulation they mean the sort of regulations that kill trade (tariffs, fore instance). Conservatives are not seeking to limit the power of individuals and government to punish identify and punish fraud. I know the parallels are not exact, but I am still stunned by the parallels between now and then. As Egan explains, the folks who bought land in the dust bowl were victims of fraud. Now whether S & P’s decision to keep corporations like AIG at a AAA rating just weeks before AIG filed for bankruptcy can reasonably be called “fraud” will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

          • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

            Gayle, lots of parallels to what is happening today. How is it that S&P can downgrade our country’s credit rating when other countries have a worse situation yet their rating did not get downgraded? Why do some companies have better ratings then others, with a worse $ situation? Lots of good/bad situations out there, as in the Great Depression. As for what is happening within our govt, conservative/liberal….frankly I am of the frame of mind that most have been bought off by special interest groups and do not have our best interests in mind. That is another reason why I prep. Keep on prepping Gayle, I feel we’re all going to need it.

        • AZ , you make a good point on how much a person can go through . I was reading a few stories on line from former WW2 POWs , some in the Pacific and some in Europe , but both had similar comments on the will to survive . They mentioned a mentality of planning things they will do when they got out , the ones that only visualized what was around them didn’t make it . The prisoners liberated by the Soviets said that they were pretty much left to their own devices, and the former guards did not have a good time with the Russians . One account told of a group of japanese that were shot after they finished unloading a train . I guess as they say ” paybacks are a bitch “

  58. Ron G .,
    I do like your use of the descriptive word Goblins , a lot better than zombies . Goblins , Trolls or even Baboons seem more appropriate . Zombies typically move too slow 😉

  59. We could also use the term “Palmies” as they have made a lifestyle from always having thier palms out for government freebies and handouts.

    • I think the term “parasite” works well. The are parasites on hard-working, tax-paying Americans.

  60. I do believe that the “goblins” have been underestimated.

  61. wal scavanging is historicaly a time honered means of servival it is a thin line between it and looting we would have to quickly leran the differance between placeces that are truely abandoned and might have sgavanging opertunitys and places that are still ocupied but rundown,sgavangers are usualy not anny moore welcom than loters at such placese,if you come acrocse the dead and unbaried you obvously sgavange wepons ammo,food,water and clothing off them and leve any personal identifyers with them as to burying them only if doing so would not indanger you with othe potencal looters/sgavengers or relitives that may think you did them in. As to abandoned biuldings thesse must be examond with grate care as smased windows,colapesd roofes and a tone of cobwebs do not nessesaraly equal abandoned,also as sgavengers in a totaly collapesd everment we need to remeber how the scavengers of the past operated,thay never over looked the most mundane things laying around untill thay figured out how to use it a differant way to help them servive. ex. the north american indean was known to take captuerd wepons and usse butplate to scrape hides,barel bands to make arow haeds we will have to do the same if it gits that bad personaly i hope for rapture be fore desaster prep the body prep the sole

  62. Thanks for the carefully thought out advice. After TEOTWAWKI It is very plausable that someone may have “settled” in at a former store, home, apartment building, or other facility. They may be trying to improve their situation or even in transet to a location cross country where family may still be found. Either way, from their point of view, it may not be a good idea for them to make it obviouse that they are there. Which really brings us to the next subject we all need to be thinking about, First Contact with others.

  63. Dan Schneider says:

    Interesting and timely as I was just recently discussing the concept of looting/scavenging/bartering post TEOTWAWKI with a like minded friend and co-conspirator. The restaurant suggestion by Ron G was excellent. We had discussed the pros and cons of raiding a grocery store and though armed to the proverbial ‘teeth’, concluded that it was mostly con. Not worth the potential for injury or worse to us or even some over-excited desperate stranger.
    We hadn’t even considered restaurants. After reading the article I also realized that the local school cafeteria (probably largely untouched initially) might be a good source for institution sized cans and cartons of food. Canned fruits, tuna, BBQ beef, dried/dehydrated potato, powdered eggs, spices, etc. might be there for the……appropriating. Many businesses have internal cafeterias/canteens as well that might be initially overlooked. Such dining areas often have snack and drink vending machines (with glass/plexiglass fronts I might add).
    At any rate, nice article with good suggestions and a lot of TEOTWAWKI insights for the would be survivor.
    Thanks. SurvivorDan

  64. I have been reading through the threads of this discussion. There seems to be a presumption that the feds are going to impose martial law on a national level. I just don’t see this happening. I think it is very likely that national guard troops will be called in (at the request of various state governors) to support law enforcement with riot control in the major cities. That leaves that vast majority of America under local control. I suggest that local governments will blockade the routes into their areas, and these areas will be manned by recently deputized armed civilians–just as the founders of our country envisioned (only they called them “militia”). I think our main job will be to stop marauding buggers from entering our towns. I do not fear the feds because in a post SHTF scenario they will not have the organizing skill to pull off anything at the national level. And remember the National Guard is the only branch of the military that can assist with police function and the National Guard is under the authority of its state governor. What I fear is the masses of hungry people so desperate they will kill for clean water.

    • Gayle:

      If I’m not mistaken, the 82nd Airborne Division (Regular Army) was deployed to NO during Katrina? And they performed police/patrol duties in addition to delivering supplies. So It probably isn’t just the NG which can be deployed, as your post implies. Also, the National Guard is under the control of the Governor (State) until it isn’t!! The Feds supply, train, etc., the Guard and can federalize it by Executive Order (Presidential order) in any emergency which, in their opinion, warrants it. I wouldn’t count on being immune from the reach of the Federal Government and all it implies, in the situations we are discussing here. Just an opinion.

      I think a bigger question, that I haven’t seen discussed, is: Would the Guard or the Regular Army fire on unarmed American civilians, even if ordered? Kent State would be a vote for “YES”, I guess.

      • Hawkeye,

        My understanding was that only the National Guard could perform policing duties. Other branches of the military were deployed to assist with evacuations, especially the Navy and Coast Guard. But perhaps I am mistaken here.

        You raise an interesting question: would U.S. soldiers fire on unarmed civilians, if ordered to do so. I suspect the answer is “yes”. The key is the phrase “unarmed”. If a massive flash mob gathers and military personnel are threaten not at gunpoint but by being trampled over, would they fire? I suspect they would, if they had no other means of crowd control and their lives were at risk. In this case they would be ordered to fire but such an order would be found to be (by the higher ups) out of line with the rules of conduct, and the soldiers who followed orders to protect themselves from rioters would be brought up on charges of manslaughter or 2nd degree murder.

        • Gayle:

          I could be wrong…..happens more often than I like. But I’m dead certain I saw Red Berets (82nd Airborne) patroling New Orleans, during Katrina, and they were armed. Maybe they were authorized by Congress? When the National Guard is Federalized there is very little distinction between Regular Army and Federalized Guardsmen. Maybe when the State (Governor) calls them up (not Federalized) they are in a different catagory than when the President calls them up. The Posse Comitatus Act defines the limits of the Armies use as police. Navy and Marines are prohibited by Defense Department edict. Note that use of the Army is not strictly prohibited but does take special authorization. Check this link out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/posse_comitatus.act

          • Gayle:

            I’m thinking that shooting, in self defense, is always justified though that justification might have to be presented in a Courts Martial.

        • Ms Gayle,
          The law you are refering to is the Posse Comitatus Act. PCA.It prevents Active Duty (AD) from civilian Law Enforcement. It does not apply to National Guard (I am including Air National Guard) when on State Orders. However if they are under Federal Orders it would apply.
          2nd, A flash mob would avoid at all cost any sign of authority. LE or Military. Your supposed confrontation would never happen.
          3rd, Military members, NG or AD, do not surrender their right to self defense.
          4th, Illegal orders…. It would be illegal for a military member to follow an illegal order. Period. In fact, under the UCMJ they must refuse and they must report the unlawful order, up the chain of command, as soon as the tactical situation allows it.
          BTW: I noticed your “flash mob” morphed into “rioters” by the end of your post.

          • Ron,

            Thanks for the clarification. I understand that National Guard can take over policing functions. But can regular Army?

            Yes, I was thinking of “flash mobs” in terms of “rioters”. I think we are going to see riots in this country akin to what’s going on in England. And I think it’s a shame that folks in England expect their police officers to police the streets unarmed. If Navy and Coast Guard are assisting with evacuations, and they are fired upon by drugged-out rioters, will they have the hardware to respond?

            We know that in England the rioters fired on police. To say this cannot happen in the U.S. seems unrealistic, at least to me. (In the scenario I am envisioning, the food trucks have stopped delivering to the major cities, and people are going hungry. If they are told to stand in line, and wait until they are registered with FEMA, I can see things getting completely out of hand. If someone pulls a gun to jump line, things can turn ugly real quick. One thing is clear–the major cities do not have enough police to handle massive riots.)

            Hawkeye has raised a question and I am not sure how to answer it.

            • Ms Gayle.
              The AD Army could under Declared Martial Law takes over all LE functions and local LE would theoreticly be subserviant to the Military Commander.
              The NG under State Orders would be assisting local LE and normally not in charge.
              As far as AD Navy and CG dealing with snipers? They have only the means to leave. BTW: Texas NG, Parks n Wildlife, and Forest Service were engaged in rescue and evacuations in LA as well.
              Don’t confuse the US Flash Mobs with the riots in the UK. Other then the use of “social networking” technology The UK has allowed openly socialist and anarchist ideologies to run amok. Hell the schools and unions encourge it. For them direct confrontation is part of the agenda. And since the cops are unarmed, Safe. The US has a racial entitlement mentality to deal with. For them confrontation is to be avoided. So far anyway.
              The scenario you described… very plausible. Keep in mind that long before NG troops show up a lot of behind the scene things have to happen. Declarations made, orders given, recall phone calls made, bags packed and finally reporting for duty. 24 to 48 hours minimum. Then the unit must reach a certain acceptable level of manning before they can move out. Where they are going, how they will get there, communications, and chain of command, has to be clarified and another thousand logistical questions have to be answered.

            • Thanks, Ron. That makes a lot of sense. My stepson is an actor and had a (very) small part in a movie. He was invited to the premier in L.A. and the flash mob very nearly turned into a riot. He was safe inside, but still . . . these people are drugged-out nuts. I don’t think people like us (rational people) can say what the drugged-out flash mob folks will and will not do. These people loose any sense of moral control when they become an anonymous part of the crowd–everyone is doing it, so I can get away with it.

          • Ron…..

            Google “Posse Comitatus Act” if you haven’t already. It says that the Coast Guard isn’t covered by the act. The Marines and Navy are precluded by a Department of Defense directive from performing police duties. And the Regular (AD) Army and Airforce can perform police duties, but requires an act of Congress. The Guard’s status seems to vary with whether or not it is under State control or Federal control. And yes, the Guard of today is much more experienced and well trained than their counterparts of fifty years ago.

            • Dan,
              I had plenty of training and a better then average functional understanding on PCA from my AD days and the two years I spent as a Guard Technician. 15 years of which was spent in Emergency Planning and Response.
              Another larger source for information is Title 10 USC. You will also find there the legal definition of the word Militia. It is NOT the NG.

        • SurvivorDan says:

          Just enjoying the back and forth but I have to say the 82nd was definitely in NO during Katrina because I was there with an AZ Sheriff’s Dept. And there was a lot of angst over whether it was violating the posse comitatus statutes. They were armed and did fire upon perpetrators.

          • Dan,

            Thanks for solving the riddle. And it gives me great reassurance that active duty personnel were given the green light to return fire and that there was some angst over whether the order to engage if fired upon was a violation of law. I am surprised we haven’t heard more about this.

          • Hunker-Down says:

            Is there any law our government will not violate?

          • Dan,
            can you provide specifics of where members of the 82nd “fire(d) upon perpetrators”.
            I just spent over an hour searching online and could not find anything. I also looked at close to 100 photos and with just a few exceptions only armed military members I saw were 82nd. Interesting none of them had a magazine inserted.

      • “Would the Guard or the Regular Army fire on unarmed American civilians, even if ordered? Kent State would be a vote for “YES”, I guess”.

        Hawkeye. You might want to think that stereotype thru. Both the AD and the Guard is not the same as it was in 1970.

        • Hawkeye,

          I agree that shooting in self defense is always justified. In the scenario I was envisioning ordinary soldiers would be justified IMO in defending themselves but would then be used as a scapegoat by politicians–just like FDR used Kimmel.

  65. Gayle….

    “used as a scapegoat by politicians”-

    I guess that’s a whole different issue, isn’t it? Politicians will be politicians regardless of the circumstances.

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