Concept of the Month -- September/October 2005

Opportunistic Looting as in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

When there is disaster, civil unrest, or even mass celebrations, the criminal element shows up to take advantage. With lack of governmental authority
or the presence of crowds, deterrents to crime are greatly reduced. We are seeing this again in New Orleans. Yes, some people without water, food
and other necessities take what is not otherwise available. However, there are those who pilfer televisions, designer clothes, shoes, and other items
that have nothing to do with survival. With the vacuum created by a lack of the presence of law enforcement officers, these individuals prey upon
the businesses that men and women have worked perhaps a lifetime to build. These criminals cannot do anything with their stolen merchandise
in most cases. There is no power available to watch the televisions or to utilize other stolen appliances. It is the excitement of stealing, doing so in broad
daylight with impunity that drives many. One might conjecture that a hypothetical videotape of the lives of these thieves would show that the current stealing
represents the tip of the iceberg of other lawless activity on their part..

We have seen this phenomenon during large sports celebrations, after urban unrest, and in other situations where law enforcement resources are diverted from a particular area.

Stanton E. Samenow

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