Difference Between Looting and Scavenging (My Opinion)
Before we start it is important that you fully understand that these are completely my own thoughts on the subject and not necessarily the thoughts of others. They may certainly not be the thoughts of the law.
If you have visited any prepping or survival websites in the past, or even watched any doomsday movies, you will have undoubtedly come across information regarding looting and scavenging. But is there a difference?
You will have no doubt even come across news stories showing stores that have been ransacked following a disaster or riots. In some cases the stores that have been ransacked are food stores, other times electronic stores or even jewelry stores.
If we go back to the example of doomsday movies, it is often seen that the main character may have entered the store in search of food, water or other supplies that can better help them to survive and move forward.
Now, is this character looting, or is he scavenging? After all, without the food and water he probably wouldn’t survive too long in a post-apocalyptic situation.
And the news stories, did those people need those electronics or jewelery to survive? Isn’t that just theft? Is that any different from the scenario above?
Now, if it would ever be possible to be completely prepared for every situation 100 percent of the time, we’d always have everything we needed but that just isn’t possible.
If you have everything that you need to prepare for a hurricane but a fire rips through your home destroying everything that you had worked so hard for, your supplies, what do you do then?
There is a store down the street that has also been destroyed but you know there is plenty of food and water inside, do you head to the store or do you choose to let your family go without what they need to survive?
I know there are people reading this right now saying to themselves, “Never would I enter a store and take what doesn’t belong to me.” I mean, we grow up knowing that stealing is wrong, don’t we?
So, is there a difference between looting and scavenging? Does it even matter in a survival situation?
First off, here is the definition about both looting and scavenging taken from the dictionary:
- Looting – steal goods from (a place), typically during a war or riot.
- Scavenging – search for and collect (anything usable) from discarded waste.
These definitions can be taken a few different ways but in my opinion, they are both the same thing but in different scenarios. You are stealing the goods, ‘looting’, but because of the disaster at hand, those goods are now waste which would need to be thrown anyway so why not ‘scavenge’ them and put them to use?
To try and make my thoughts a little clearer, if right now I head down to the store, walk in, grab some food and walk out, that is theft (looting). If that store gets destroyed in some disaster and there will be no relief in the near future and I head down, grab some food and walk out, that is scavenging.
So is there a difference? In my opinion, there is not. They are the same thing but they are different terms for different scenarios and the law will use them as they wish.
When it comes down to it, we each have our own opinions (please share yours below) but if I needed to in order to survive, and for my family to survive, if I come across a wrecked building with supplies, I will take them if we have no other option.