Very Clever Trick to Fool Looters

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trick to fool looters infographicI’d like you to participate in a mental exercise with me for a few minutes. Imagine, if you will, that a major catastrophe has occurred in your area resulting in looting and marauding on a large scale basis. The people in your local town have already cleared out all of the shelves in the stores and they are beginning to go house to house looking for supplies that they can use to survive with.

In this scenario, you’ll likely be watching people who might be approaching your home that could pose a threat to the safety of you and your family. Imagine that you spot a large group of looters through your binoculars who are making their way toward your home.

You’re going to have to make the decision about whether or not it’s safe to stay in your home in a matter of a few short minutes. Let’s assume that for the sake of this mental experiment that you decide to abandon your home and head towards your pre-planned bug out location.

Now, assuming that you don’t live in a rural area already and you have to travel for quite some distance, let’s say that you can’t make it to your bug out camp in one day’s drive. In this case, you may decide to pull off to the side of the road and camp for the night.

If possible, it’s would probably be a good idea to rotate drivers so you that you can keep moving but there may be occasions when you have to stop for one reason or another. After all, if you’re just too tired to continue driving safely, you wouldn’t want to have an accident by falling asleep at the wheel.

The Inspiration Behind This Trick

My husband recently saw a movie called “Freetown” that inspired him and I to play this scenario out in a conversation that we had today. The movie gave him the idea for a pretty clever trick to fool looters into leaving your vehicle alone while you’re sleeping. We talked about a particular scene in the movie and decided that if this situation ever does arise, we’ll take turns keeping watch for shifts of about two or three hours while the other is sleeping.

One of the things that we also talked about is how to make sure that our vehicle will be left alone if a band of looters happened to pass by and see it parked on the side of the road. In our opinion, it would be foolish to try to fend off a large group of looters so we’ve talked at length about what we might be able to do to make our vehicle less attractive to them.

What Will Looters Really Be Looking For?

In a situation like this, it’s difficult to know for sure what looters may or may not do. History has shown us that during times of major natural disasters, there will be many people frantically looking for the supplies they need to survive with. Others, may be worked up into a frenzy and vandalizing things just for the sake of causing chaos.

In this scenario, let’s assume that the looters are looking for supplies and they see your vehicle parked along the side of the road. If they see your vehicle and it looks like someone has just pulled off the side of the road and abandoned it because it broke down, it’s my opinion that they’ll stop to see if they can scavenge anything from it such as gasoline, food, and/or water.

If they see your vehicle parked along the side of the road and it “appears” to them that it might have supplies that they could use in it, it will become a target. This mentality is what we plan to use against them.

As part of this mental exercise, imagine that you happen to be one of those looters who is passing by our vehicle. Don’t look at this from the perspective of a prepper or survivalist but rather through the eyes of a hungry looter that doesn’t have any emergency supplies.

What if our car was jacked up and on blocks? What if all four tires had been removed and were out of sight? What if the battery had been taken out and hidden? What if one of the windows that was nearest to the looters who were passing by was broken?

Now, since I’m not actually able to predict the future, I can’t say for sure what “might” happen but what I can say is that a vehicle that is in the condition that I’ve described above may appear to looters as if someone has already picked through it and taken everything of value. If our vehicle looked like someone had beat them to it and already taken anything that they might have wanted to take from it, it may appear to be a less attractive target to them.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are no guarantees, and I certainly wouldn’t want to tell you how to act if you find yourself in this predicament. I think that the ideal tactic would be to hide our vehicle if at all possible so that passing looters wouldn’t even see it. But, if that’s not possible, I personally think that making it appear that looters had already stolen anything of value may be enough to trick people into moving on and they may actually leave our vehicle alone.

Then, in the morning, when we are ready to continue our journey, we could put the tires back on in a matter of minutes, install the battery, and be on our way to the safety of our bug out location.

Remember that this was just a mental exercise. You alone will have to decide what it the best course of action for you and your family to take in a situation like this.

Let’s Hear Your Thoughts about This Idea!

As I’ve already mentioned, the purpose of this article is to be a mental exercise and it presents one way that you might be able to fool looters into leaving your vehicle alone. It would be really great if we could get some of you who read this article to leave a comment below and start a discussion about this particular tactic.

If you’d rather not leave a comment, but you’re still in the mood to read about prepping, I suggest that you take a minute and read one of my more popular articles that is called, 7 Deadly Sins of Prepping Revealed: Number 3 is a Doozy!

23 Responses to “Very Clever Trick to Fool Looters”

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  1. Ian says:

    Good ideas, but I wouldn’t consider things such as jacking your vehicle up or do anything which may disable it, just in case you need to make a quick getaway

    Also if you can take 2-3 hour shifts keeping watch then why not just take 2-3 hour shifts driving whilst the other gets some sleep? I use run flat tyres which can go for 30-50 miles before having to stop to attend to them, but I also have them filed with a puncture sealant. In the past these sealants were a different mix, the latest are a water based product, so if the puncture was too big to seal and you needed to patch the hole then you just wash it out, dry it off, then patch it. Been running a tyre now that first punctured over a year ago and the sealant worked. It also has the advantage that it significantly extends the life of the tyres by at least 12-18 months

    In this type of situation there will be little, if any, police around. So even if you didn’t have a licence you could still take turns driving the vehicle. Only precaution is to make sure you aren’t too warm, as this is when you can easily fall asleep, even on roads where you have to concentrate to keep the vehicle on the road. Also in this situation remember your concentration can reduce the time you can drive before tiring. Also wake the person taking the next driving shift at least 10-15 minutes before hand so they are properly awake before taking the wheel.

    I remember once reading about a person who had altered their fuel nozzle so the vehicle could be filled from inside the vehicle using either a hand pump or a 12v pump. This filler nozzle was obviously a much smaller guage than the main external nozzle, but it could empty a fuel can in around 5 minutes thereby avoiding the need to stop to refuel.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi Ian,

      That’s an interesting way of looking at things. Thanks for your comment!

      • Ian says:

        You’re welcome

        Another few points to bear in mind

        Once you’re moving try to keep moving, DON’T stop unless you MUST.

        If you watch the film ‘American Sniper’ you will see a good example of this. At one point around 1:25:20 you’ll see a 2 vehicle convoy moving fast, lead vehicle is an APC followed by a Humvee. A green car pull out of a side road, the APC gunner opens up on the occupants, but the vehicle keeps going, then the HUMVEE gunner hits it, but keeps going. At NO POINT did they stop. This is an ideal tactic, forget about the gunner side and look at the basic vehicle operation, it is (possibly/probably) best to use a tactic where your vehicle KEEPS MOVING.

        This is where automatic gearboxes fail against a stick-shift where THE DRIVER selects the gear. I can put my car into 6th gear and remove my foot completely off the accelerator, and the vehicle will cruise itself at 30 MPH.
        So if I had a straight piece of road, and a mechanism to temporarily grip the steering wheel and lock it in place, such as a clamp attached to the dash board, then I could, in theory, just drop my seat back down, slide out, allow the next driver to slide in, they adjust the seat, release the clamp, and keep driving.

        Remember it is always best to not stop if possible

        This could also entail using a bucket to do your business in, just chuck it out the window afterwards.

        Ensure you have foods you can eat on the move. One person can easily make sandwiches in the car whilst another drives, and stick to cold drinks. A driver with a hot spilled drink may need to stop, plus may need medical attention, where one with a cold spilled drink is just a bit wet and still fit to drive

    • Nathan says:

      Here article is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. What a way to get someone killed. This article shoukd be band

      • Patty Hahne says:

        Hi Nathan,

        As mentioned in the article, this is just one possible strategy. If you or anyone else doesn’t like it, you or they don’t have to use this strategy. The main point I was trying to make with when I wrote this article is that if something “appears” to have value or use to looters, it will be a target. If something looks like it has no value, it may be possible that it would be less appealing to looters. Again, as mentioned, there are no perfect strategies or guarantees.

  2. rob says:

    like Ian said ” don’t stop” IF you must stop,, only for a little bit ( no more than 10 minutes )
    as a looter i would look for signs of people around the area ,, they had to carry it ( loot ) some where,, unless its a burnt out hulk.. then whats the point
    think like the enemy,, plan for the worst,, expect nothing

  3. Michael says:

    Thank you for your article and I agree that everyone here has good points. Being in the military for 20 years the rule is you never stop. That being said we were in teams and could take turns driving and had firepower and eyes everywhere. your article does put a few ideas out there that would be of great use if needed. like myself and many other we do not work from home. What happens if your away from home (I travel for business from time to time) just you? The SHTF and all you want to do is get home to your family. Now let say your get a car in my case do to my work I normally have a rental car ( I try to ask for a SUV or Truck just in case) so now your on your way home. you have been on the road 16 hours you have to rest. Sleep or wreck the car we have all been there( ok well I have). Hiding the car works, get off the road, part inside somewhere out of sight out of mind right. Now ever been to Iowa or Nevada long flat roads with nothing for miles and miles. Sleeping in your car on the side of the road not a good idea. 1 the car makes you stick out like a sore thumb. 2 people can sneak up on you. If you follow this article advise make you car look disabled and hide the parts in a underpass or storm drain or conceal then to passers by. you have a better chance to have a vehicle the next day and make it home to your family. My job is to protect my family. I cant always be at home but if need to make it home now I have another idea that might make that happen thank you

  4. Mark Stapleton says:

    I agree keep moving wherever possible , I prefer a 4wd vehicle that could be driven some way off road into a gully or trees and covered with brush or an actual camo tarp if circumstances decreed it necessary . if you are alone set some fishing line trip lines to some noise makers or let your dog be your warning system . no large or smoky fires and move on as soon as practical .

  5. Victoria says:


    Have you ever read any Doomsday type novels? They help me with thinking of possibilities I may encounter and ways to overcome challenges. Give this one a try: Surviving Home by A. American. It’s about a guy who is on a work trip and has to make it home after a solar flare. Very good stuff to get you into the mindset of “get home tactics.”

    From one veteran to another, thank you for your service.


    Also, can anyone give me their top 3 list of SHTFs they are prepping for?

    Here is mine:
    Civil war (due to religion or race)
    Solar flare (grid collapse-happened 150 yrs ago)
    Economic collapse due to other reasons

    Look forward to hearing from you all!

  6. Abntxn says:

    I like the theory, but I feel speed=safety.

  7. Alex says:

    My survival plan is “mudflap”. Be flexible and willing to travel. Situation awareness is focused on what “others” who ARE surviving in that environment are doing to survive. If you can’t duplicate or imitate what “other survivors” are doing, then consider a change in environment/location. Over-specialization has doomed entire species to extinction. Be flexible. Going fast is a good survival strategy. When you see the remains of several convoys that went fast, then assume that over the next rise, or around the next curve, is a wall, a hole/ditch, tire spikes to stop you. Check six for predators that will over-take you. Take high ground is good, but it also can trap you with no way out. If you can’t win the fight, then don’t be seen at all, or appear to be a target so much harder to conquer, it will be better for the predators to attack the next weaker victim. Every technology has a counter technology. Carry seeds and be able to grow food. Be willing to eat tree bark and bugs till plants grow. Be strong enough to do “the necessary stuff, even if un-pleasant, to survive. ALWAYS have a “plan B” and a plan “C” and/or “D” is good too. (Anticipate obvious future needs/trends.) Think/plan in terms of how fast, how dry, how wet, how hot, how cold, how low, how high. Too fast can kill. Too high (3K ft altitude and no plane or chute is lethal), You can die of thirst or drown. You can cook or freeze to death. Balance extremes and never be afraid to abandon any position that will not prevail in that environment. Never be married to just one inflexible method.

  8. Homesteader Veteran says:

    Good article, good comments. Like the critical thinking applied.
    I live on a rural dead end road and can see and hear vehicles coming about 1/2 mile away. I would like to find ideas to deter groups or even lone looters from even venturing down our road. We can drop a few trees across the road, lickety split but they can take to the woods and pastures on foot.
    Thought about caltrops and biohazard signs but an intrepid or desperate individual/group would likely overlook it and continue on.
    Any ideas?

    • Ida-Ant says:

      Have you thought of some sort of early warning system ? such as security cameras or motion detector placed at / near the end of your road that will notify you in your home when someone first turns onto the road to your home. That way you don’t have to constantly keep watch and have time to prepare or evacuate. cameras placed at various points along the road can help monitor the progress of those heading your way and also possibly help assess the threat level. Just a thought.

    • Andrew (Scotland) says:

      Any way after SHTF you can divert water to the areas you want to block off? If so, a relatively large area (or areas) can quickly be turned into swamps which are impossible to drive or ride over and hard as hell to traverse on foot. Once situation calms stop the water flow into the area and it’ll soon return to normal, usable land.

  9. Chris young says:

    Good article and good idea. I agree with the keep moving but me as a looter I’m one to look even if the vehicle looked ravaged. Some other looters might be the same way.

  10. Erik says:

    I was kidnapped (snatched) by my father when I was 7 and taken 3k miles from home. Since kidnapping charges or other serious charges would clearly apply, I spent the rest of my childhood running, hiding, and avoiding capture by the authorities who were looking for me and my 3 year old brother. With that said, I know a little about hiding out, but I will impart my thoughts only in reference to the above.

    First, I think your idea about putting your car on blocks and giving it the “already looted look” would be something to do to your vehicle when you’re hiding out nearby and away from your car for whatever reason. For the short-term though, I do not think it is practical and too much risk is associated, especially if you plan on sleeping in your car.

    So, assuming a “SHTF” scenario is looming and may occur at a moments notice, find and buy a one gallon can of olive drab paint, a couple of paint brushes, a small box of 3M scotch brite pads or a box/bag of steel wool, a big roll of heavy nylon string, and a good quality, sharp machete. Keep these items in a box in your trunk. If you need to bug-out, you have your cloaking package with you ready to go.

    SHTF, so you’ve bugged out. The moment you have an opportunity, pull over somewhere safe, get your paint package out and get to work. Quickly scratchpad or steel-wool down the paint (so it lasts – forget this step if you don’t have time) and paint the entire car with the camouflage, olive drab coating and then continue on your journey. Doesn’t matter if it’s still wet when you leave, who cares?

    When you need to rest or set up a camp, begin looking for dense, heavily treed cover. Now, you can find wooded areas just about anywhere, even exit ramp areas have several acre clumps of densely treed sections in many states. You just need find a way that you can get your car into the wooded area and again, not a difficult task. As you make your way in, you may find you need to cut some branches or vegetation to get to the best spot, and you’ll use your machete for that task. Once in, go back and cover your tracks and hide any signs that would indicate someone drove a car into the woods.

    Now you can sleep like a baby, disturbed only by an occasional bird, lizard or raccoon. When I was a kid, we did just that. Pulled off the road and into the woods. We covered our tracks and our old Willies jeep was painted a flat olive drab. Once in and our tracks covered, we watched as people drove by time and again and no one had a clue we were just 100 – 150 feet off the main road.

    We could find such an area, burrow in, hide our tracks, and set up a quick camp in 45 minutes or less; even quicker if it was simply to grab a nights sleep. Once in, the machete came in handy for clearing a spot for out-of-vehicle sleeping, cooking, etc. We even set up lean-to’s if we planned to stay for a few days to rest up. Your machete and nylon string is really all you need to build a solid lean-to. If you can include a small folding shovel in your trunk, all the better. But bottom line, we were invisible!

    • Mic says:

      The last resort is to paint your vehicle, a camo color, unless it is only used off road.

      Most people will associate a camo vehicle as a “prepper” vehicle, thus having supplies on board and make you a target, especially if you are traveling down the highway.

      The key is in blending in, to look like another unprepared slob, just trying to get somewhere. There are likely to be lots of them, so it should not be hard to blend in.

      Once you are off road, then it could be an advantage to stop and paint it.

      • Steve says:

        I agree. The “grey man” concept also applies to cars.

    • Andrea M says:

      That’s some great ideas Erik. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Bob says:

    I have read up on a lot of this and I believe we are closer to needing skills to get out in an emergency. The one thing I have to ask is what about everybody else trying to get some where? I don’t believe this will be a road warrior type scenario were you drive for hours without seeing anybody and when you do there bad guys. In this situation you have people like us who are or have taken steps to secure essentials I’m thinking we’re 10% of the population and then there’s the 90% of the ill prepared getting in the way. What then? Just sharing a thought. We have a silent group were I live and we have I think a good plan of sheltering in place for as long as we can. We have more than enough supplies in multiple locations and enough fire power to stand our ground until the dust settles. I pray it never happens but I’m afraid its real cloose

  12. BillC says:

    In reading your article my first thought was — you failed by abandoning the house.
    Seriously, your “looted look” could equally apply to your home as well as a car, couldn’t it?

    I’ve talked with people who have gone through upheavals in South American countries as well as some African ones. In those countries if you have a gated wall around your home it’s assumed you’re (comparatively) rich and have things to steal. So how do you convince the mobs to leave you alone? The trick is thinking ahead and some of this applies whether you have a wall or not.

    You want your home to look abandoned and already looted if you can. With some careful “staging” of props and a little work you can manage it.

    First, move your critical supplies to the basement (if you have one) or attic space as soon as things start getting bad. This includes personal items you shouldn’t lose like bank records, checks, passports, birth certificates (identity info), house deeds, etc. Also hit the kitchen to remove all sharp knives and large forks (weapons) and be sure to move your can openers to safe places.

    Now make your home look like it’s already been searched. If you have a safe, empty it and leave it open. Create some disarray inside that makes the home look like others beat them to stuff. Think like a scrounging survivor. What would you take? Food, soaps, shampoos, razor blades, batteries, matches, lighters, small electronics, etc.

    Now it gets harder. Sacrifice a few items of furniture (especially Ikea stuff) and maybe an old flat-screen TV. Gather up those clothes you don’t need/like/wear. Drag this stuff out to the front yard and scatter it about. Throw the old TV down or step on it to break the screen. An old book shelf and a chair broken on the lawn adds some realism. Lastly, look at neighboring homes that are empty. If necessary use the same color spray paint (usually safety-orange) to put a large “X” on your door to indicate it’s abandoned or empty and been checked by “authorities.” Then leave your door ajar during daylight hours.

    If you’ve had enough warning, board up windows with plywood and use screws to fasten it to the window frames or wood walls. It helps with the “abandoned” look without breaking windows.

    An important consideration is to use caution cooking meals or using lighting around your home at night. Limit both to only what’s necessary. Cooking odors or smoke is a tell-tale that people are there WITH FOOD. Lights inside say that you may still have stuff of value to steal. The boarded up windows will help. Obviously running a (noisy) generator is out of the question.

    Re: Your driving scenario…
    If you’re so tired that you need to stop in order to rest, you’re going to be too tired and impatient to carry out your plan, especially if you haven’t planned it well. There’s too much chance of losing important things like lug nuts and the jack, not to mention the tires. Especially in the dark. Did you remember to remove the SPARE tire from the vehicle too? That wouldn’t be left behind by looters. If your goal is to leave an empty & “looted” car to be seen, how many trips will it take to move all your gear far enough away from the road?

    It would be better to keep going with someone else driving, but only if they’re a level headed and survival oriented person. Fuel management may be more important than speed and they have to understand how to avoid wasting fuel, especially in hilly terrain.

    If you even think of bugging out by vehicle, adding a couple of king-size “camo” quilted bed covers to the kit might help hide your vehicle in the bushes at night. You need to get off the road and into the bushes far enough to break up your outline. The covers (even OD green tarps) are used to cover the chrome/glass/shiny parts of the vehicle from headlights, especially taillight reflectors.

    If your fuse box is easily accessible, pull the fuse for the brake lights while you sleep to avoid accidentally lighting up the brakelights if sleeping in the driver’s seat. Put the fuse on the instrument cluster where you can find it or tape it to the fuse block access panel for in the morning.

    Danger time is from 02:30 to 05:30 am. This is when most people are used to being asleep and are at “low ebb.” Sentries fall asleep easier. Sleepers are in a deeper sleep then too. Keep car windows up with a finger-space open at top to vent exhaled moisture. In cooler weather it will condense on the inside of the windows and identify it as an occupied vehicle.

    • Mrs M says:

      Your suggestion of camo bed covers is cheap and easy = brilliant!

  13. mac pursel says:

    Keep moving is good advice, but where are you getting your gas I try to keep my gas tank full. But if I am in a rental car, what then?

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