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What Causes Looters to Steal During a Disaster?

An illustration, entitled “Civil Unrest,” depicts events taking place at the time of the Great Chicago Fire. It shows looters stealing goods belonging to others while their city is in the midst of a catastrophe.

Why would looters steal goods belonging to others while their city is being devoured by flames?

Review the “Looters Punished” illustration.  Response to looting was quick, ferocious and often lethal in the aftermath of the Chicago Fire.  Was the punishment inflicted on those offenders appropriate, or inappropriate? What is the basis for your opinion?

Looting also happens in today's world, during major catastrophes (like hurricanes, floods and earthquakes).  How does punishment for looters today compare with punishment for looters in 1871?  Which approach is better?  Why?


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