A crisis will bring out the best and the worst in people. Leaders and followers will emerge, along with those that simply want to survive and to be left alone, the ones that are willing to work hard and ask nothing of others. Your friends, neighbors and even strangers will act differently. Some that are not prepared may believe that after a few days they are starving and will commit crimes in the name of providing for their families. Then there are those looking to take advantage of the situation.
Looters and other criminal elements will be active almost immediately once disaster strikes. However, it does not always take a disaster to cause civil unrest. Governmental policies, police actions and general frustrations among the citizenry can bring about demonstrations and riots. Agitators and so-called anarchists will co-op demonstrations, which may then lead to property destruction and violence against people.
Avoid CrowdsYou cannot change the collective minds of a mob, and a large number of those involved in demonstrations do not even know why they are there. Avoid demonstrations, and under no circumstances attempt to intervene. In times of despair citizens turn to the government for help and when that help is not forthcoming they turn against the government. Once they have vented their anger at city hall they will turn on each other.
Evacuate or StayObviously if the disaster has created, a dangerous environment such as chemical or biological contaminates or damage to your home then you must leave. Evacuate before the civil unrest takes hold. If a financial collapse or governmental policies have created civil unrest and you are in a heavily populated area then you may have to consider relocating as well.
If you live in a high-rise apartment, it is recommended you leave before you are trapped on the upper floors. You may be able to commandeer a vacant apartment on the bottom floor. You have to be in position where you have an escape route if the buildings' electrical system fails and the building is set on fire or otherwise compromised. Those looking to victimize others will realize you would have to use the stairwells during a power outage so they become ambush points. Avoid them and if you cannot avoid them, go down one floor, enter the hallways, and use the next set of stairs down to deter someone anticipating your moves.
Looting is many times a crime of opportunity. Looters want to grab items and run, so they will check for unlocked doors and windows that can be smashed in. The more organized criminal elements will be planning elsewhere to relive banks and other organizations of their valuables. You have to protect against small roving gangs of looters looking for drugs, weapons and other valuables.
Do not go near commercials areas because that is where looters will be most active. Retails stores, commercial storage areas, and warehouses are prime targets during a crisis. There will be criminals looking for other than material goods, as well, so you must have personal protection and an escape route. Know your area, where the blind alleys are, and what stores have a back exit if you become trapped in one. Part of your preparation plan is situational awareness. You have to conduct reconnaissance of your area before a crisis, so you know in which direction to move if your community becomes hostile.