Loot (Looting) steal goods from a place, typically during a war or riot, synonyms include to pillage, despoil, plunder, ransack, sack, raid and to rifle.
Forage (Foraging) search widely for food or provisions. While foraging typically means you are searching for food to sustain life, it can also mean to search for supplies and materials necessary for your existence.
In a time of crisis law enforcement typically prioritizes. This means if you call and ask for help with a barking dog, for example, you will be ignored. If you call 911 and the phone happens to be answered, and you tell them someone is trying to kill you then they may respond if they have the personnel available.
In some cases, the phone lines will be down, the police are scattered to the four winds, and thus, you are on your own. Law and order has broken down and certain people will be quick to take advantage of this.
Individuals and even some groups have proclaimed they plan to take what they need during a crisis, so in their minds there is no need to prepare, because someone else has done all the hard work for them. They have weapons and thus think they can take whatever they need at gunpoint.
They plan to steal in other words, loot stores, rob individuals and invade homes supposedly. If they do this, they are common criminals. They will encounter resistance in many places and thus may end up dead or they become murderers.
Looting is not, by any means, justified in the minds of most people. However, some people can convince themselves they are owed something, and thus rationalize their behavior. Looters are not very smart. The power grid has collapsed and looters will be taking television sets and radios out of stores, items that of course require electricity. Nothing romantic about looting and most looters are not stealing things they need for their immediate survival.
The Crisis Is an Extended One
It has been four weeks and no relief in sight. Most of your neighbors have abandoned their homes, or have died. There is no electricity, water or gas available. Some of the homes in your neighborhood have been vandalized, doors are left swinging in the wind, and shattered window glass sparkles in the early morning dew. You decided to shelter in place during the catastrophe and a few warning shots here and there in the last month have so far scattered the malcontents slinking along the sidewalks looking for trouble.
You decide it is time to explore the area to see what you can forage. Some of your neighbors left in a hurry and only a few actually managed to pack their vehicle before they left, so there may be food and water inside the homes. Looters in the early days looked for valuables in the homes such as televisions, computers, jewelry and cash. Food was the last thing they looked for in the beginning. Now the looters have moved on, and you hope they have gotten their just due from some angry and armed homeowner.
You see a canoe and paddles in the front yard of one home. It looked as though it had been dragged out of the back yard. Apparently, the looters decided it was too heavy, or of no use to them. This is something you may need because the river is only a few miles away. You are thinking ahead, and realize a canoe is transportation, a way to escape if you need to.
A backpack was draped over a hedge at another neighbor’s home, empty of course, but of good quality, you can never have too many backpacks you think. You are foraging and have not yet gotten up the nerve to enter a home to see if any full water bottles were left behind, or to look for any can goods in the cupboards. You have not been able to make the next step. The next step in your mind is invading someone else’s home with the intent of taking things you need for survival.
You soon stumble upon a backyard garden however, and managed to gather up some fresh produce. Some animals had been feasting but there were ample tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots still edible, no point in letting the produce wilt on the vine.
Foraging for food and supplies was hard work, but you worried over the moral issues more than, about how hard it was physically. Most of the homeowners had fled, many probably never to be seen again, and two that you knew of had died in the early days. However, you needed to live, and foraging may just mean the difference between surviving and not right now.
A window screen was discarded along the sidewalk and you wondered how it could be used. You thought it could be used as an air-drying rack for the produce, or any fruit you come across. Anything you find could potentially be used for something.
Enough foraging for now, and as the days dragged on you wondered how long before you would start entering homes to search for food and water left behind. You had always associated foraging with animals scurrying about the forest floor grabbing up acorns and other seeds and nuts. You feel like you are scurrying back inside your home. You feared someone would spot you stealing things, but are you really stealing, or are you simply foraging to stay alive during the worst disaster to strike the nation.
So The Question Is What Would You Do
It is not likely any of you would gather up a crowbar and start jimmying doors and windows on your neighbor’s homes 10 minutes into a blackout, but what are your thoughts after a month. The neighborhood is decimated by the crisis and vandals have created even more damage, and now nature is taking back what it once owned. Weeds are sprouting through the cracks in the street, hedges are growing out over the sidewalks and animals roam the desolate streets, noses to the ground and testing the air.
Pieces of plywood lay propped up against a shed in one backyard, a case of flooring boards lay in the doorway of another shed its door ripped from the hinges by looters, shingles in another shed and all manner of bricks and stone are used in landscaping themes. All of this can be used by anyone trying to survive in their neighborhood alone. Inside the abandoned homes, there may be bottled water, canned foods, clothing, hand tools and other useful items.
When does it become foraging and not looting? Some of you may be presented with this moral dilemma, so how will you decide.