In recent years riots have become more and more common place in the US and many countries around Europe. People are angry, be it over a race killing, the falling economy, corrupt officials or just mindless opportunistic youngsters who are hugely susceptible to the mob mentality.
As a prepper, you must have seen this. From the riots in Ferguson, to those in the streets of the UK which started off in the capital London and sprung up in cities across the country.
Then there was Katrina and after all the devastation that it brought with it, home owners still had to encounter looters.
Millions of dollars in damages, businesses ruined, people hurt and killed and all for what? To rise up against injustice?
No, to take the opportunity to do as they pleased without fear of repercussions.
These people are not protesting peacefully. They see that the law cannot control a large angry mob and decide that the law no longer applies to them.
The media also plays a huge part in these riots, I mean what good can it possibly do to state live on air that “angry mobs are expected if X does/doesn’t happen…”
What this causes is for these mindless criminals to think “Hey, maybe I should be angry. We should go out there and show them we’re angry”.
So they do, and what ensues is a mixture of violence, robbery, looting, arson attacks and physical bodily harm to whomever stands in the way.
So how can you make these looters pass you by?
The first and most sensible answer as a prepper is ‘GOOD’ or Get Out Of Dodge.
I would rather watch the riots unfold on the news than be stuck in the middle and have to defend my property and family from hundreds of people who fear no repercussions from their actions.
So, what if things start and escalate rapidly. You arrive home from work and it’s already kicked-off and you can’t get out. What things can you do in and around your home to make these people pass you by?
Well, there are many ways to make yourself and your home less appealing. Let’s dive right in.
Hidden or In Sight?
The individual situation would greatly determine if you try to stay hidden or let people see you are there. For example, if you can get family and friends to come to your location or a predetermined location, there is safety in numbers.
This will allow you to be visible, using long arm weapons slung over your shoulder as you move about your property and garden.
There is also a downside to this, in that your neighbours who have no preps for this kind of situation will see your lights on and perhaps come begging for help, protection, food, water etc. So you should be prepared for this. Hey everything has it’s ups and downs right!
Staying hidden may seem like the most logical choice at first, however you must remember, these people are generally looking for an opportunity.
A home with no lights or visible signs of human presence = opportunity.
Sure, if they are coming thick and fast, destroying everything in their path then you have no choice but to escape or shoot. However, in general everyday life, that’s not how it happens.
Riots take time to warm up as people encourage others to get involved. This give you a little time to get yourself, family and friends together and make a plan of action to deter looters.
Making it difficult to access your property is a great deterrent. However if you have decided to be in plain sight then you should ensure you move vehicles out of the way so that you can be seen from people walking in the street.
Using your neighbours driveway or the garage is a good option and one that will also allow you some cover from gun fire should you need it. It will also provide a quick escape route should you need it.
You can also use your vehicle to light up your house and front lawn. Looters hate being spotted, they would rather sneak in and out between the shadows with a bag full of loot. By using your headlights to make your house look like a football stadium, this could deter people from approaching.
The other option is of course to use the vehicles as a barricade around the house(s). Forming a semi circle around the front of the house where the mobs are likely to pass by will limit the entry and exit points. Think of Woodbury, the town in The Walking Dead episodes where the buses are used as gates into the compound.
Ever seen a fight break out in the street or on your way home from an night on the town? Notice what happens as soon as the police are heard to be approaching?
Everyone runs or walks quickly away from the scene. Even those not involved, bystanders will often flee. But what is it that makes them do it?
Well, there is a reason they have loud sirens and flashing lights and it’s not just so they can break a red light and get through a queue of traffic. They are a deterrent and they scare people.
Loud noises, flashing lights and…’A MEGAPHONE’.
A megaphone is one prep you could get to help deter looters. They are very loud and have the desired impact…to scare or startle.
They also have many uses such as finding lost children and family members or for warning off the bad guys with a simple “STOP…OR WE WILL SHOOT YOU’
Do you know what stopped the riots in Ferguson? It wasn’t that they found peace with the situation or that they got what they wanted, it was the temperature.
Riots and looting often take place in summer time when the weather is warm, not in the depths of winter or when it gets just cold enough to see your breath as you exhale. The temperature in Ferguson dropped and so did the enthusiasm for opportunistic violence and criminal activity.
Here is an extract from the NYTimes publication in the Science Journal from 2013:
We found that higher temperatures and extreme rainfall led to large increases in conflict: for each one standard deviation change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, the median effect was a 14 percent increase in conflict between groups, and a 4 percent increase in conflict between individuals.
Do some digging on Google and you will see many of these studies concur that extreme weather can play a part in increased violent encounters.
Don’t think that looters won’t hurt you, but in the same breath, they are looking for easy targets. So it’s important to make your home or neighbourhood look like a place of high activity, with many people to defend it.
Have people walking around, torches in hand, vehicles driving up and down and a lookout at each house and corner.
Music or a TV set turned up loud enough to hear as you pass by in the street will often be enough to ward off potential threats.
Essentially, the more people you can muster in your community to band together the better.
Cooking and Eating
Should you cook outside?
This is a tough one and debated by many, however most people confuse this question with a ‘doomsday’ scenario.
We are strictly talking about looting and rioting, not a post apocalyptic world where people are starving and killing their neighbours for a cup of flour.
My answer to this would be to cook outdoors IF you have decided to deter by showing a presence. If you have decided to lay low and hide, you need to be prepared to eat cold rations and not have an open flame or any kind of smell that can attract people to your hiding hole.
If however, you have recruited friends and neighbours to help deter looters, then cooking and eating outdoors in plain sight would be ok depending on the situation.
Say after a hurricane such as Katrina, people lost everything and had no food or safe drinking water. It is likely that you may have lost everything too, however if you do have food, it is probably best to keep that to yourself and your close knit group and not advertise to the world that you have things they need.
Say you do cook outside, what do you have that you can cook with? Do you have a grill, a smoker and wood/coals to burn? Will you use gas? These are all questions to ask yourself and cooking indoors with these is not an option.
Most of this article has take the stance of the ‘strength in numbers’ deterrent of looters. However there is another option which would require some tough decisions and small sacrifices to be made.
I’m taking about making your property look like it has already been looted. How do we go about that and what would it entail?
Let’s look at a few options.
Trash and Broken Goods
I know of a few friends who keep their old broken TV set in their garage and plan to use it in this kind of event. They will take a bat to it and place it on their front lawn to give the impression that people have already been to the property and here is what’s left.
You could also empty your garbage all over the property, people hate smell and muck. Especially if it’s been festering in there for a few days.
Got animals? Dog and Cat poop smalls bad and is a great deterrent. As disgusting as it sounds, try smearing it across your front and back door handles, if a looter touches it to open the door they will get a nasty shock.
Then there is human excrement. Pooping into a bag and tossing outside around your property will certainly keep me away, a free TV is not worth catching a disease over!
If you do take the hunkered down approach it is best to take your valuables and some of your stored preps and move them away from the property or at least in a place where people won’t easily find them.
A hole in the floor or a buried cache location is a good idea, even a fake stud wall or picture frame covering a small stash box can work.
I would avoid keeping any valuables on my person such as jewellery or items that have sentimental value. Damage or lose them can have a devastating effect on your mindset and morale. Not what you want in a situation where having your wits about you is of the upmost importance.
Going to the bathroom
Staying hidden is all well and good, heck it works for our special forces behind enemy lines so why not? Well they also have to do EVERYTHING where they choose to hide, and that means going to the bathroom.
If you will be staying inside of your home, you will need a way to get rid of your waste and clean yourself afterwards. That also means washing your hands and body. Disease is a big killer in unsanitary conditions after events such as a hurricane or tsunami.
There is no shortage off fires where looting and rioting is concerned. How about creating a large fire in your front of your property? Burning tyres smoke and stink like hell and cause the eyes to water, which is a good deterrent.
It will also mask the smell of any cooking you do and makes it look like people have already been to your property so there won’t be anything left.
With hoards of people breaking into a stores, there can only be so many who can fit through the doorway, most often looters will smash the glass windows to grab what they can with ease.
Having a selection of pre-cut boards all measured up to fit the windows of your property could both protect your glass from being shattered and also make it look like your property has been condemned and is empty.
If it looks like no one lives there, then there will be nothing to steal. Plus it has the added advantage of restricting the looters from peering into your home.
Stay or Go
Above we have a few very different options, to stay and protect what’s yours, staying hidden or in plain sight, or fleeing and living to fight another day whilst your property succumbs to vandals and looters.
Each one is a tough choice and would take a lot of planning, people, skill and determination. There is no right or wrong answer, there is only the right answer for YOU and YOUR situation at the time.
Thinking about these things now could well save you from upset down the line.
What do you plan to do? How would you ensure that looters simply passed you by?