Friday, June 5, 2015

Repost - The Anatomy of a Looting Horde

Since the subject got brought up over at Rural Revolution and I commented that I had done a post about the numbers of urban looters that would come out of the St. Louis metro area in case of a full civilization collapse. I thought I would repost the entire thing here once again.

I would like to add though that the two biggest issues I have with the entire looting horde theory is that there are really no accurate figures in just how many people when faced with starvation will actually turn into direct confrontational looters. In many cultures it has historically been shown that a very small part of the population is willing to fight even when faced with certain death. I really feel that a more accurate approximation of what percentage would become looters can be found by using the percentage of those willing to fight back against large scale genocide and those numbers were a small percentage of the populations typically.

The second issue I have is how much attrition the looting horde would inflict on itself as it left any given metro area. Seems to me for the first few miles of dispersal any horde made up of small individual groups would more than likely be preying on itself more than outsiders.

Anyway here are the stats I worked up last year using the St. Louis metro area and surrounding rural setting as a base. If you have any issue with my numbers please feel free to comment and tell me so. It was a pretty large project and I could have made some mistakes.


I've actually been meaning to do a post about this for some time now but never actually got around to it because crunching the numbers is kinda a pain in the ass to be honest. That and actually finding some of the statistics for percentages is really not as easy as you might think. They are often buried so deep in other data you have to read the entire boring thing to find the one stat you are looking for. Yet I love numbers, they don't lie and they can give you a clear picture if you can see through the mist enough to make em out. Of course they can also be presented in ways that make em seem something they aren't at times too.

There are of course a couple figures that are open to interpretation, which is usually where the real problems start. For one thing in a grid down/no more just in time re-supply situation just what percentage of the population is going to be an active looter, what percentage will be a looter of opportunity and what percentage would rather die themselves than kill or steal? Good questions. You may think all people will fight to survive when confronted with a life or death situation but then there are more than a few genocides, holocausts and such out there that do not lend weight to that belief. There really is no hard data at all to back up just how many people would willingly become a part of a looting horde so I have run the numbers without taking attitude or personality into account. From that perspective everyone is a potential looter.

What I have taken into account are things like : Gender. Oh I know a few people will argue and say Women will loot just as well as the Men. OK no way we are going to get past that discussion if we take it up no matter how wrong you equal opportunity looters might be, you will never admit it. So here's what I have done. I figure there are going to be far more panzy assed girly Men out there than there are butch Female raider types. That should make the Feminist and Manginas happy as I am bashing on Men a bit. So I took out the Female population percentage but not a girly-man percentage. I figure that balances it out to a looter numerical advantage. This removed 49% of the population.

Obesity ; With roughly 35.7% of the population being considered obese this figure has to have some bearing on the subject. While there will be some exceptions one way or the other I finally decided to just take this entire number out because it will help to balance out the figure against the ones who would be lead to slaughter I didn't count earlier. Seems logical to me anyway.

The next couple of percentages are pretty straight forward.

Age - I eliminated all persons above age 62 and below age 15. Yes there will be some grey area and overlap but I thought these were good numbers. I know I have seen some mature 15 year olds and some good shape 70 year old guys as well but they are an anomaly. According to the census data about 22% of the population are under age 15 and 14.7% above age 62. I checked those figures in a few places as they didn't seem right but what do I know? Comes to a total of 36.7% either too old or too young for active looting.

Handicapped, Mentally unstable, medically unsound : I eventually rounded this figure out at 4%. Handicapped numbers were easy to find, the others not so much. I got a number of 1.5% for handicapped in a few places (Which certainly wasn't by DMV tags on windows or it would have been 15% or more). Whatever 4% sounded good.

What I have not taken into account at all are things like the willingness of different races to work together or become hostile with each other. Whether remnants of the government would attempt to slow down or stop a horde ahead of time or even taken into account any type of attrition as the numbers move outward.

Now I needed a test area for base population and square miles available. I chose the greater St. Louis Metro area. I included the entire Metro area, Illinois side and Missouri, but then I limited the land area numbers to a specific compass destination inside Missouri. At almost 3 million the St. Louis Metro area is within the top 20 metro areas by population in the US.

My starting population total is 2.9 million but I rounded up to 3 million potential looters. This is over half the entire population of Missouri I might add. Considering their starting location I then assigned a direction randomly and figured more or less they would target that area out to about 200 miles more or less which is close to the middle line of the state running North - South.

So 3 million people. Of which 49.1% are She-Men or Women, that's 1,527,000 of them

35.7% are Obese that's 1,071,000 of the whole halved to 535,500

36.7% are too young or too old that's 1,101,000 of whole halved is 550,500

4% are handicapped or mentally/medically unsound that's 120,000 of the whole I will quarter this number since we are looking for men of prime looting age here so the percentage should be less for a total of 30,000.

3 million - 1,527,000 - 535,500 - 550,500 - 30,000 = 357,000

As you can see we are now left with 357K willing, able and ready looters out of the entire population of the St. Louis metro area. I should have done a firearms check of the Metro St. Louis area and adjusted this number even further but I don't think it is needed to get my point across. I halved the percentages for age and obesity figuring the girly-men section should get their share and only decreased the handicapped percentage by one quarter.

Assigning 8 points to the compass then further dividing the potential looting horde by 8 we come up with  44,625 looters heading toward any given compass heading. This would roughly fan out to slightly under 1/6 of the state of Missouri before reaching the midway point which I will reserve all land West of that middle line for the Kansas City looters.

This gives us a land mass of 69,709 sq. miles divided by 6 =  11,618 square miles per 44,625 looters or stated another way roughly 4 looters per square mile. A square mile equals 640 acres so that is about 1 man per 160 acres total.

These 4 guys are gonna be awfully lonely out there so they will need to team up. By the time you get up to a team of 20 looters you are looking at a coverage area of five square miles or 3200 acres. The averaged size farm in Missouri is roughly 250 acres so every 20 looters will be facing off against 12.8 family farms. That's a minimum of 12.8 individuals not counting wives, offspring, city relatives they took in etc. defending against every 20 looter/raiders.

This means at the very best calculations any group of 20 looters would be attacking with less than 2 to 1 odds. That's not very good.

Now all this is assuming no low or high density areas in farmers per looters per land. It will be much worse closer to the St. Louis metro area and lessen as you move further away. You can of course add looters that may join in from smaller communities and such into the mix but not many as we are already using over half the total population to start with and Kansas city hasn't even been heard from yet.

That's a lot of space and pretty good defensive numbers vs. attackers in the scheme of things if you ask me. As I have stated before land and distance are your allies and defending is far easier than attacking. Let's not forget the three to one rule here for attacking success. A rule which is impossible to achieve on average with Missouri's land mass v. farmer density if you take my population figures as realistic.

In short wide spread looting would be at a severe disadvantage whenever it reached out beyond 75 miles or so in my opinion. The land ratio to looters would begin to get so high it would create a huge obstacle. The more likely situation we would see are corridors of looting that would form along the interstates or other major highways and then fan outwards from this lifeline a few miles. This would help the looters to maintain a higher attacker per defender ratio but would also create choke points that are even easier to defend.

In short the life of a looter would not be easy nor would it be particularly long lasting and doubtful it would even really upset most of the countryside that remains 10 or more miles away from a major highway.

There just are not sufficient numbers of able city dwellers to pull off a "Golden Horde" West of I would estimate Ohio. Perhaps an East Coast study would be different.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Look at the demographics of the people fighting tooth and nail for a discounted tablet on Black Friday......Then imagine how many more will do the exact same thing and more when they and their kids are hungry.

    1. Dan - No doubt. Many are already or will become animals. Yet the numbers of them crammed in like sardines don't add up to the vastness of the rural areas once you remove all of those who couldn't even walk a mile. They would be eaten up in no time flat I think.

  2. I am more concerned with the worthless individuals who live out in the country, the ones who go to the grocery store every day to buy some frozen dinners with government money and though they have access to land, don't seem to make an effort to grow any food. They will have to get through trip wire alarms and various devices. But anyway time is a big factor as I suspect that grouped people will not move very far as they will assume help is coming and by the time they do venture out, they will be weakened somewhat. So in our case, the more time that goes by the better but like my ancestors on the frontier, a watchful eye will have to be kept for small bands or individuals coming from the country and not the city.

    1. Sf - That is possible. Groups that have some knowledge of living off the land already or have a base to support them for incursions will form but as you said I think that would take some time and not be part of the urban hordes.

  3. I always find it hard to understand how anyone can justify looting.... to do it in response to an injustice real or imagined. Two wrongs don't make a right... How on earth does one justify burning down building/stores, stealing, tearing up the very town that you shop and do business in. I never can quite wrap my mind around that. Of course I realize that some use any reason to do such things, the mentality it takes to do that is beyond me. I know your post was more about if people were hungry, in my fairy tale world I would like to think people would get off their duff and plant some seeds, start bartering what they had to offer for food in the mean time, labor to help grow more food or any services they had to offer to help etc... But as I said I realize that is most likely a fairy tale world.

    1. Texan - In this particular case we are discussing more what would come once there simply isn't anything to buy to stay alive. No food, no services etc. Of course anyone caught in that trap has only their own self to blame but how many would just take what they need however they had to is a real question that I don't think anyone has a real answer for until it happens. Could be most of them, could be only a small percentage of them.

  4. PP - i am glad that you reposted this because i find that a lot of people worry about the marauding Golden hordes without really thinking it through. i think the suburbs will be the worst hit after poop hits the fan - the urbanite gangs, if they are able to come together and form a group, will get together in the beginning and might make it out to the suburbs which they will pillage and destroy. but the idea of them being able to march 30 miles with only what they can carry on their backs and then start shooting farmer's cattle with their glocks, processing the animals, eating, getting clean drinking water, stealing the farmers' harvest??? - no, i don't think so. i think these Golden hordes will hit suburbia and then start going after each other and it will be downhill for them from there. i don't think they'll ever make it out to the rural areas.

    and i stand by my earlier statement of your numbers and stats being quite relevant. keep up the good work. am putting this post in a comment over at Patrice's.

    your friend,

    1. Kymber - Exactly. Not to mention how many will support their neighbors even in the suburbs when they see them being attacked. A bit of supporting fire would even the odds right fast.

      I just don't see many urbanites venturing out into the rural areas, even along roads, on foot. The darkness and elements are something they just are not used to dealing with.

  5. indyjonesouthereJune 5, 2015 at 8:54 PM

    I suspect most urbanites will stay in place figuring the FEMA troops will bail them out and some MAY get help but I am afraid not very many. By the time they realize they are on their own most will be unable to move very far at all...probably no farther than the urban beltway. Suburbanites will have more ability to survive because they can actually do things other than vote for more free stuff. Their turf will likely have all the food and supplies from the trucking warehouses that all retailers maintain. They are much less likely to waste that to Ferguson or Baltimore where the looters steal some food but mostly waste what food is in the stores. I suspect rural areas already know where the problem children live and will keep a watchful eye on them. Who will survive? Depends on the time of the year and who is really willing to work for food and shelter.

    1. Indy - I suspect you are right. Most people have a comfort zone and will not leave it until forced to. They will more than likely prey on each other and further lessen the odds before even think about coming out in to the rural areas.

  6. The other question is how steep will the survival learning curve be? How many will be left (looters) after 2 weeks? After a month? How many farmers will be left? (a higher percentage, I'd bet) and how many will the rural folks kill in the first moth or so?

    After a moth or a bit more, the survivors (on both sides) will be better at doing what they do....Then things will change . But what will the numbers look like then?

    I'd bet that most folks who live more that 30 miles from bigger metro areas will likely be fairly safe. Especially after the first few weeks. Once the fuel runs out, people won't move far from home.

    1. Anon - I agree. I think attrition preying on each other and rural folks manning strangle points etc. will eat the numbers down quickly.

  7. I just want to thank you for reposting this. I read your post over at Patrice Lewis's site and was impressed.

    Carl in the very remote and more and more thinly populated UP of Michigan.

  8. You have some severely flawed assumptions. I won't comment further as I already know how that turns out.


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