Looting, scavenging, call it what you will. When the SHTF, you might need to do a little scavenging. Scavenging after SHTF carries significant stigma, invoking your most dreaded nightmares. During man-made or natural disasters (including war), scavenging is a common occurrence. Practicing subscribers to usCrow and other various prepper or survival websites are more prepared than others. However, even the most faithful survivalist will need to scavenge.
There are several reasons to scavenge. In the short-term you might need parts for your shelter, vehicles, equipment and etc… In the long-term you will deplete your two-year food/water/supply storage. If you don’t have a renewable food and water source as pointed out in CMF Contributor Black’s Victory Gardens article… Either way, get ready to scavenge.
This guide will attempt to explain the basic parameters for scavenging on an operational level. Instead of aimlessly wandering out to find day old tacos, you will approach scavenging with a strategic mindset. The human condition will never change. When the shit hits the fan, you damn well better know the whole of humanity will revert to the laws of nature and natural selection.
While survival groups are safely hunkered down in their various BOLs (bug out locations), looters will be hard at work clearing out the shelves. We’ve seen it time and time again. The unprepared will go into panic mode in the presence of disaster. That panic will lead to a frenzy, sending the most legitimate and ‘stand up’ people into desperation mode. That desperate frenzy will not only cause mass casualties, but it will also leave factories, grocery/department stores, farms, and etc completely bare.
Not only will looting leave stores bare, but it will turn any suburban center into a complete wasteland (if said suburban centers weren’t wiped out in the initial disaster). It takes one disrespectful asshole to ignite a plague of destruction. A present day example of looting and destruction can be seen in; any Occupy protest, post game celebrations, natural disasters and etc…
The Threat of Scavenging
Scavenging will most likely require your survival group to visit highways, population centers, government facilities, farms and other various installations. Evaluate each mission. Prior to a scavenging operation send a scout out equipped with a direct line of communication to your base of operations. Scouts should be fully versed in travelling through hostile territories, preventing a hostile force from tracking your scout back to your base. Service members who were snipers in the military are ideal for scouts. They are well-trained, well-disciplined, and an essential element of your survival group.
Scouts should survey the target area from a safe distance using standard surveillance techniques to avoid detection. Such evaluations should consider; hostile occupying force, environmental risk (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and natural conditions), variables, and operational costs. Operational costs include; distance, weather conditions, force elimination. By establishing operational costs the scout can report to the commander of the survival group outlining how much food, water, fuel, required equipment, force needed, and munitions the scavenging operation will cost. At which time the commander can make the call.
If it’s not worth it, it’s not worth it! Should your commander make the decision to carry out the operation, those assigned to carry out the task must be well versed in combat theater and tactical operations. Scavenging like all other ops must maintain command, control, communications and intelligence. In addition, MOPP Standards should be applied for all operations.
Where to Scavenge after SHTF
Your scavenging target shouldn’t be some random location like Wal-Mart; your target should fit your need. Going to a random location with no direction would likely force your group into a shitty situation. Aimlessly moving from one location to the next is strictly prohibited. It’s prohibited because it will tire your group while exposing them to the human and natural threats in theater.
Scavenging operations should not only have a specific target, but two backup targets should be established (when applicable). The following are examples of scavenging needs versus targets;
- Automotive Parts – Logic would dictate the last place looted would be automotive shops. I don’t see a Mad Max scenario happening because most of today’s generation can’t even change a tire. In the absence of an automotive shop you will need to scavenge from nearby abandoned vehicles. Luckily a part replacement scavenge op will most likely only need a three-man team; two assisting cover operators and a mechanical engineer. Note: in all usCrow articles we highly stress the need for a mechanic in your survival group.
- Renewable Power – Again, this could easily be considered a low-risk op with a three-man team. Excellent locations include federal installations. Federal installations are equipped with commercial grade solar panels. Such locations include; power-substations, federal office buildings, freeway lighting and etc.
- Fuel – Fuel can be scavenged from abandoned vehicles by siphoning the gas out of abandoned tankers (if operable take the tanker), cars/trucks, convenience store fuel holds, and etc. You will need a vehicle to transport the fuel when applicable and a four man team to acquire it.
- Ammunition – Had you taken our advice you’d be reloading your own ammo. Even then, you could possibly run out of ammo. This means you will have to take on a high-risk op. Ammo will be a hard thing to come by and in the event of scavenging for ammo you will need a five man team. Five are required not only for adequate force but for adequate manpower. Ammo is heavy! Such targets include; military bases, law enforcement vehicles and stations, gun stores, and dead bodies.
- Food and Water – Food and water will be extremely hard to come by when scavenging (food more so than water in most locations). Think unconventionally. For food, target wholesale distribution warehouses. You will have to establish these locations prior to disaster because they are not easily identified. In addition to distribution centers, food can be acquired from; abandoned homes, tractor trailers, grain mills, farms and etc. Read the usCrow SHTF Water Source Guide for potential water scavenging locations.
- Niceties and Necessities – Niceties and necessities include various items that make survival much more tolerable. Necessities include; birth control, prophylactics, Lysol, bleach, soaps detergents, and etc. Niceties include; entertainment, board games, toys for the kids, electronics and etc. Birth control is priority. Pregnancy after SHTF will not be easy. However, if a member of your group becomes pregnant, that child is not only the mother’s responsibility, but the entire group’s. Children take priority over all. The acquisition of these items should not take precedent over the safety of the group. These items can be acquired from several locations, you just have to be smart.