The world as you know it is no more. Assuming the air, water, and in this case, most importantly, food, isn’t contaminated, you have to eat. Let’s take this to the worst-case scenario. You have nothing. No supplies are waiting at your bug out location, the emergency rations from your bug out vehicle, and bag used up. Maybe someone else stole them. There’s no way to hunt game, you can’t forage, and you won’t make it long enough to sprout the most basic seven-day food (sprouts of course) if you don’t eat soon. You could lay down and die, or you can steal some food.
Is stealing food for survival a good idea? Stealing food for survival is a terrible idea, but one that may keep you alive. Whether it’s the horrors of war or some other apocalyptic scenario, you have to eat to survive. Finding food is arguably the most vital aspect of survival. There is water everywhere, and shelter isn’t so hard to create or come by, but without sustenance, you’re just dead.
The Difference Between Stealing & Robbing
Stealing food to survive is best as a fast solo activity. If you have a getaway driver, that’s great, have them wait somewhere safe. You’ll move faster and better alone. Group stealing is much more likely to be spotted. Moreover, the larger your party, the more probable it is that one of them will get caught.
The big difference between stealing and robbing is simple. Basic theft (aka stealing) can happen any time, and with or without other people present. Robbery, on the other hand, requires you to have active victims who are present. Hence, I strongly suggest you avoid the latter.
Legally, the difference is almost the same. Theft is taking ‘stuff’ while robbery uses force. I updated my definition for a lawless, world-ending scenario.
Robing people is personal. It’s terrifying, and scared people can act unpredictably. Avoid dealing with people in person if you’re going to try and take what belongs to them. You are much more likely to get injured by your victims. Whenever possible, only take what no one is watching. The alternative could cost your life.
Stores & Warehouses
Stealing food to survive is not a new idea. In most severe crises, some people will do initial looting. Stores and warehouses may be a plentiful stock for a short time, but there’s also a massive risk involved in going somewhere like that. While your best bet is to be prepared in advance yourself, the second-best chance is undoubtedly to avoid places a hundred other people are heading.
Instead of driving a dozen miles to a high-danger maybe, save your gas. After all, that’s another supply that will soon be gone. During an organized crisis, it takes less than a week for most gas stations to run out. In short, skip big box stores and pick a snack machine in an abandoned hotel hallway. Especially if you’re in dire straits, it’s challenging to do anything with a clear head when you’re already starving.
If you’re dead-set on hitting up one of these mega-locations, expect company. Make sure you only have to take a trip like this once. I’d suggest bringing a large, durable bag with wheels like the Rolling Duffle Bag from Rockland Luggage on Amazon. At forty inches, it’s a huge bag, but not too large to pick up and sprint with if the wheels encounter an area they can’t navigate. To check prices and availability, click right here.
No one wants to steal food for survival. Likewise, nobody wants their food taken. In today’s society, I would never suggest committing premeditated crimes. You’ll get caught and arrested. However, once society has collapsed, the situation necessarily changes.
Depending on your target, the risks are much higher or lower. An organized group is far harder to take from than an individual or couple. However, better rewards are probable when you choose a larger store. Find out if you have options.
Additionally, you can easily leave plenty behind if the supplies are plentiful, which is less likely to trigger severe retaliation. In most groups, the leader may have a search sent out after a theft, but they’ll focus on better security much more seriously unless you took something they genuinely need to survive.
Decide what your priorities are for stealing. Do you need protein more, or vitamins, salt, or calories? Can you open a can, cook pasta or rice, or do anything for yourself? If not, then you need some easy food, which may be harder to find. If there’s a garden, grabbing some fresh produce might be most accessible, but a storehouse will have lots of what you need.
Whether you’re raiding a warehouse or taking some apples from an orchard, you still need to know the layout. Whenever possible, give yourself at least a day to plan. Longer is better. You need time to observe the area. Watch for guards, patrols, and even people with the same idea you have.
Choose a sheltered location where you have the high ground—hole up on a hillside, or inside a multi-story building. Bring a notepad and writing implement for notes, and a set of Mieuxbuck 10×50 Binoculars. These will allow you to see in day or night/low light. Plus, with good binoculars, you can scout from a safer distance. To get a pair, click here.
It’s always best if you can see what food is available first. Windows are easy enough to see inside. Unfortunately, a warehouse full of peanuts won’t do you any good if you’re allergic. Making sure the target destination has food you can eat is often overlooked, yet incredibly important.
You need to consider the layout of the area. Assess whether anyone can see you in the day or night. How many paths are there to your target? How many exits? This is especially vital if you’re going inside a building. Regardless of the situation, you need to formulate a specific plan. Decide which direction to come from and which way to leave.
Maps & Gear
Sometimes a target is straightforward and low risk. You can walk right up to it and take what you need, leaving without a trace, like an apple tree that overhangs a tall wall. Other times you need to know the layout of a whole complex area.
Make sure you make and memorize a map of the area. Furthermore, if you carry one with you, don’t mark it in any way. If you lose your map or get caught, a big red mark on the target or the exits will make things worse.
Also, you need the right gear. Obviously, when you have nothing, the best you can do on short notice is likely to be a sharp stick or a big rock. Find a sack of some sort, even if it’s a garbage bag. However, a bag that doesn’t make noise when you walk is better.
In a pinch, you can cut and tie a shirt into a makeshift bag by knotting the sleeves and head hole. It’s better if you can first cut the bottom to thin strips and tie them off in pairs. Second, trim the neck hole into a larger opening. Then cut the sleeves off so you can loop a hand through like a grocery bag with a neck hole.
Get Out of Dodge
When stealing for survival, don’t make the stupid mistake of sticking around the scene of your crime. You need to get out of dodge and stay away for a while. Unless you’ve found a target so vast that no one could possibly notice your theft, then you shouldn’t plan to target the same place twice.
Once a person or group realizes they’ve been pilfered, they’re going to step up security. That’s smart. Unfortunately, it also means the job will be harder if you have to do it twice. Take enough to move on and get away while you can.
In & Out
Unless you absolutely have no other option, don’t enter or exit in the direction of your own ‘home.’ Doing so will make it easier for the injured party to discover where you sleep. That spells trouble for you. Not only might you lose the food you worked so hard to get, but you could get robbed, beaten, or killed. If you have a family or a party back ‘home,’ you’d be risking their necks as well.
Never delay when leaving. You must get far from the scene of the crime quickly. No matter how tempting it is to stick around for more, take what you need, and GTFO. However useful those extra items may seem, you don’t want to get weighed down. Nor should you risk your life for something you want but don’t need.
Exits & Rendezvous
Your final consideration when stealing for survival is getting ‘home’ again. This can be your house or just a place to hole up for the night. Regardless, it needs to be safe, out of sight, and well away from anyone you stole from. In a world-ending scenario, I suggest taking a bicycle as your getaway vehicle.
Not only does a bike require no gas, but you can carry it with you or stash it easily when you have the right model. Bicycles can go most places feet go, but faster, and they can evade cars by taking routes they won’t fit down. Moreover, they’re easy to repair, and you can carry anything you might need with you in a small pack.
I suggest the Xspec Folding Mountain Bike. I have one, and after searching around for a while, this is the best cost to value ratio I’ve found. It’s lightweight and portable, but with the size and function of a small mountain bike. Plus, the Xspec folds up fast. You can find one for your emergency gear collection when you click here.
A good bike is indispensable when making a quick getaway. It will get you to your rendezvous with your group, or take you away on your next solo mission. Whichever you prefer, make sure you have multiple options for where to go hide out if you’re taking things that aren’t yours to survive.
Stealing food to survive is incredibly risky. Not only are you putting your life on the line, but you’re potentially killing someone else. You should only ever consider it as a last resort in the direst of circumstances. However, it is an option.
I strongly suggest that, unless you know the people you’re stealing from have other stores, or they’re the worst people imaginable, you should leave them something. Even at the end of the world, there’s something to be said for human kindness and good sense. Plus, you’ll know where there’s more food to be had if things get worse.
Always aim for sustainability instead of unnecessary danger. Steal to survive, but survive so you can live again.