By Richard Bogath
No one is insulated from the hard disappointments in our fellow men and woman of our species as we watch the events unfold related to the 2015 Baltimore riots, resulting in burned buildings, injured people and the opportunists who looted business after business all in the name of “protests”.
Sad as it is to say, looting is all too real a factor when riots break out for any reason. Protecting ones self and ones business can be a challenge but there are ways to prepare for just such an possibility with a little forethought and a little planning.
What is looting?
Don’t look at me like that-I know you know what looting is. But there are some who believe smashed windows, set fires and damage caused are a part of looting, when in fact that describes vandalism. Looting actually does not have to involve damage of any kind to your business or property. In effect, looting is theft on a mass scale. While burglary can occur on both a large and small scale, looting is usually a large scale intrusion—completely in plain view of everyone—by a small or large crowd of thieves believing that there will be no ramifications for the mass theft of your goods. While vandalism and looting often go hand in hand, preparing for either usually takes the same form.
Prepare for the possibilities of looting.
In the home – Should you be misfortunate enough to have a home along a route or location where looters would present themselves and possibly identify your home as a source of loot-able goods, there are some steps to take to douse some of the attraction. Obviously you want doors and windows locked (why leave an open invitation) but also work on hiding your homes contents. Blinds pulled shut. Drapes closed. Enough lighting to see what is going on but not enough to shine like a beacon of promise to marauding thieves. Inside the home? It’s your castle, right? Even in some of our favorite “No-Castle Law” states, few could argue the need to protect ones self and ones family if the door breaks down. Got a shotgun there, Joe Biden?
In your business – Here is where the more likely scenario will take place in our looting considerations. Your business is most likely the sole culmination of your blood, sweat and tears throughout your life or even the lives of generations of your family. If there is one thing we know for sure—ANYTHING worth taking can be taken. Be you a retailer of electronics, high-end jewelry, clothes, paper goods or statues made from dog sh-t to look like famous celebrities, if you’ve got stuff—there are those who want your stuff and anything can be resold on Ebay (the largest un-admitted fencer of stolen merchandise in the world today). Sometimes preparation for just such an event is moot at best. Not everything can be stashed in a safe. It’s not possible to clear your shelves and showcases at the end of the day. In most cases of a business…you need a deterrent.
Some form of deterrent will be your first line of defense against looting activity. While sometimes bypassed or ignored, better to have them in place than not. Obviously some will be more effective than others. A sign hanging on your door and window stating “No Looting” is almost laughable, whereas a similar sign stating; “Looters will be met with deadly force” can make the point more clearly.
More direct obstructions are better and obviously do a better job coming between looters and your business regardless of the level of literacy possessed by those looting. Metal gates (roll-down, pull-across, swing open/closed) or even improvised walls are the best deterrents of them all, literally preventing access and a target at which to vandalize. Even some improvised walls make from plywood, screwed into the frame of your windows and access points can do the job (think as if preparing for a hurricane).
Be it wall, gate or sign, no matter what deterrent you have in place to protect your business you should always contact your insurance company and inform them of what is taking place and the deterrents you have arranged for. This way if damage does occur—they already have the information on file and this will make claims easier later on, if necessary.
It takes a certain mindset to prepare for the possibility of looting. As humans, our first concern is our safety so the instinct is to flee as far as possible from the location of danger. If your home or business is potentially coming under attack in this way, sometimes it is not practical to leave. Once we get our families and employees to safety, we must then decide if being on premise for practical defense is warranted. After all, our lives are more important than our things, but that fact does not give others any right to take or destroy what we have spent our lives creating.
If you are going to defend—be mentally prepared to defend within the limits of the law. Yes, you read that correctly—defend within the limits of the law. The looters are acting outside of the law, but that does not give you the right to kill someone who is doing so. No matter how unfair it seems, if you use deadly force where not warranted as a defendable position then when all the smoke clears, law enforcement will come after you with everything they’ve got. You know it and I know it.
The exception to this, of course, is that you have the right to defend yourself if your life is in danger. Firearm, baseball bat or 2×4—you always have the right to defend your life.
Some of the best advice I can give on the subject of looting? Form an anti-looting agreement with neighbors on either side of you and come up with a plan that protects all properties and businesses involved. It will give you peace of mind and the knowledge that you are doing your part to protect yourself and others from the unfortunate yet unthinkable realities of looting.
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