Saturday, February 5, 2011

It Happened. So now what?

The world as we know it ended. Now what?

Yesterday, I posted about a survival site that gave a "how to" on looting. Last night, I went to bed ruminating on this subject and drifted off to sleep wondering when "looting" becomes "scavenging" or "salvaging".

This morning, I awoke without any definite answer. Wandering around the web looking at various websites dealing with laws concerning lost, mislaid, and abandoned property also left me without a definitive answer. It seems that the government has managed to lay claim through "escheat" to anything of real value, and to have perverted Common Law to its own benefit.

If the property is abandoned, the government gets it, and if there is no government, or effective government in place, then one could suppose that is when it becomes salvage and suitable for scavenging.

This isn't in any way to be considered legal advice. It is just this author's ruminations on the subject. If anyone out there is an attorney and has dealt with this area, I'm sure everyone would love to read anything you might have to say on the subject. Please leave a comment, or send me an e-mail and I will post it.

Personally, I find it odd that I would still find myself constrained by the concept of right and wrong in such a situation. The videos posted last night showing the wanton looting taking place in the 1992 LA Riots showed that many others seem to be only constrained by the threat of force.

I'm seriously wondering if this will place me at a disadvantage if everything comes apart.

Depending on the type of collapse we experience, there may be many places that will be left untouched by looters. In these instances, scavenging and salvaging any useable commodities will be extremely easy.

However, once the easily accessible locations have been exploited, finding needed commodities may become more challenging.

Having spent much of my adult life working in securing buildings, industrial sites, military depots and the like, there are some things one should remember when conducting salvage operations in more secure locations.

Some of these places require two people to access certain rooms, and buildings. Some doors can only be opened from the outside. Once you're in, and the door shuts, you are stuck until someone opens the door and lets you out.

Some doors can only be opened from the inside, or by use of a card key, biometric scanner, RFID reader or other electronic means.

Some doors don't have the type of hardware that most people are used to, that is, some are electro-mechanical and others have more than just a simple door latch and strike or deadbolt. Some are even more like vault doors and have multiple active and passive bolts and relocking devices. Some doors auto-lock when they close.

Many doors that are electronically operated may not be easily opened if the power is out.

Be prepared to deal with doors. The best way is to ensure the door can not be closed behind you is to take it off its hinges. If you can't, once it is open, disable its latching and bolting mechanisms and by taping over the strike with duct tape and cardboard. Alternately, use a length of rope, chain, cable or heavy duty nylon cable ties to tie the door open. You can also construct door wedges and use these.

These wedges aren't the type that people are normally familiar with. They aren't the rubber or wood wedge that you jam between the bottom of the door and the floor. These are U-shaped pieces of metal that get dropped over a door hinge. They keep the door from fully swinging shut.

You can simply bend a piece of copper tube or rod over a mandrel, or you can make something that looks more like this. The U-shaped piece of metal is also useful for overhead roll up style doors in that it can be dropped through the holes in the track to keep the door from falling shut. Make sure you use tubing or rod that is large enough in diameter that the door can not be forced shut. In other words, coat hanger wire is not appropriate for this purpose.

If you are unsure if there are others about, and are worried that someone may come behind you and close doors and seal you in, Kryptonite Locks can also be used as door wedges. They can only be removed by the person with the key. You can also use padlocks with a length of stout chain.

The least safe way to hold the door open is by propping it open with a handy garbage can or chair.

Conduct a full reconnaissance before entering the site. If you're there, chances are that other people know about it as well. Look for telltale signs of recent activity, entry or even occupancy. Such things would be trampled grass, disturbed soil, clean and unweathered locks or chains on gates, clean spots on otherwise dirty windows, "fresh" refuse, uncharacteristic scents for the area (smoke, cooking, etc.), vehicles that do not look like they belong there, and signs of the presence of domestic animals.

Listen for man made sounds.

Remember, sometimes the door is not always the best method of entry. I've been places where there's bullet proof glass, reinforced concrete and steel walls, and dead man doors (problem with the design on this page. The doors should both open inward, so only one door may be open at a time). Often, I have found that if you go above the ceiling, you find that you can drop behind these imposing fortifications because the designers believe that no one would use the ceiling space as a means of access.

In one stunning case of a jewelry manufacturer, in the case of their high security diamond room, the ceiling was a suspended ceiling (drop tile). An 8ft ladder and you were into the ceiling and over the bullet proof glass and reinforced masonry wall in under 30 seconds.

It also stunned me to learn that some secure rooms were surrounded by nothing more than sheet rock and steel studs. You could kick your way through the wall, and have a much easier time rather than trying to defeat the high security doors.

So remember, it sometimes is easier to go through a ceiling space or through a wall rather than trying to open a secure door.

The world ended. What can happen? A vandalism charge?


Ken said...

...another good one Catman,can you say "solar charger and cordless power tools"?...betcha can

seriously tho:at least for now,the only "high security" anything we have to worry about around here(being rural,small towns and smaller communities)is the rifle scopes of others...

...and remember,thou shall not steal...salvaging and scavenging is a gray area...

HermitJim said...

As always, the government wants the first shot at claiming any and all property deemed valuable or usable!

So what else is new?

Good post again, my friend!

Anonymous said...

There are clear marine salvage laws but not much for terra firma. Interestingly enough, the marine salvage laws give incredible "rights" to the finder.

But when talking about the end of society chaos or a 'rag-heads nuke us' event, I will surely be 'salvaging' from the overturned grocery truck before the racoons get it.

Freyja said...

Hmmm. To me looting implies a mob mentality (or competition), scavenging seems a solo exploratory pursuit, and salvaging makes me think of a planned and pre-meditated operation.
Eg; loot the store for food, salvage the tin roof from the mill.
Just my 2 cents.

Spud said...

Kind of goes along the lines of, why is it that black people are always the ones you see on the evening news.Because they are the ones hit hardest by economic downturns ! People that are hungry do desperate things. Sometimes you have no choice if your children are hungry...
Judge not lest ye be judged, It is easy to sit in an ivory tower and condemn the actions of man when trying to survive when all normal means have failed...

Spud said...

Best to prepare ahead and not loot cuz I will shoot...