Gault on……bob’s Fallback


In a recent post about stockpiling food preps a reader calling himself bob left the following comment;


“I’m good. I have an acre of land that I use for gardening that I tend daily, plus I can fish, I can hunt and I’m surrounded by freshwater. If that fails, I’ll take what I need. With force if necessary. I’ll spend this $260/yr on ammo. =)”


The 1st part of his comment about “gardening”, “hunting” and “fishing” is typical of what many of us have planned. Many of us do those very things now as part of our daily lives. The remainder of his comment, specifically (“If that fails, I’ll take what I need. With force if necessary.“)  seemed to venture into an unfamiliar area. bob’s fallback position was something new. I personally don’t recall ever reading anything on such a tactic being a viable part of prepping. Had I completely missed this new and developing strategy for survival?


TheShadowI quickly searched some of my favorite prepping sites looking for content, I found none. Googling also proved ineffective. Hungry to learn more about this new tactic I considered where I might find some valuable insight. I realized that even in the worst of times this type of action would likely be considered highly illegal. Perhaps the criminal mind could shed some light on how a prepper might effectively carryout this strategy. I made a mad dash to Google and spent the next couple of hours digging into the psychology of the criminal mind, the street tested methods they use, and why. I then created an overlay of the criminals strategy and placed it upon a typical prepper’s needs. I should note here that this turned out not to be anything approaching brain surgery. Typical criminals are a rather unsophisticated lot, akin to a plexiglass caged ferret taught to ring a bell for an edible prize. Despite this, guidance was found and some strategies formulated.


The 1st and most important consideration is target selection. Lots of variables with this, like local population density and your personal proximity to potential targets. The very basics of the criminal mind tells us to select the very softest of targets, and none are softer than the elderly. The older the better. They are slow to react, often hard of hearing and equipped with questionable vision. They are weak, damaged and easy to knock over. They offer little resistance. You can get in, take their food and get out before they even understand whats happening… easy breezy. For those without an adequate supply of defenseless old people the next best target is the single mother. Usually overly concerned with their children’s safety, at the slightest threat they will wilt and beg you not to hurt their children. Caution should be used here, some mothers might fight you out of a displaced sense of protecting their young. The gold standard of this category is the pregnant mother with children, the further along the better. She will offer little resistance for fear of damaging her unborn child. Not much more than some yelling and pointing your gun at the kids will garner complete cooperation. Grab every last remaining bit of sustenance they have and then hit the bricks. Job well done.


Now that we’ve gotten this far I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up a couple of issues that go hand in hand with executing this new prepper tactic. The 1st has to do with “conscience”, do you have one? If you do then this might not be a viable option for your own survival. Can you live with yourself after roughing up some elderly folks and taking their food? Can you deal with the images of desperate, terror stricken children clutching their mother as they watch the last of their food being spirited away… by you. Trust me on this, that image will be tattooed to the inside of your eyelids. If you can’t live with the memory, you probably won’t.


The 2nd issue has to do with judgement. T here is always a risk that you’ve misjudged  the severity of the SHTF event your dealing with. What if after a few months of your sentencing many others to starvation because you forcibly took their food, things get better? Suddenly the cops are back and sifting through dozens of complaints about your crimes. There is only one way to eliminate this possibility…. leave no witnesses.


I’m sure, (at least I hope that by now) you know that I am being facetious. bob’s fallback position is no position any prepper should ever consider. In many ways it’s antithetical to the prepper’s ideology, to the extreme point that we actively prepare to protect ourselves from becoming victims of the very thing bob suggests he would do. We prep to protect our lives and the lives of our loved ones from tough times, in those times morality will be as important as anything else you stockpile. It’s true that many of us arm ourselves, the goal of which is to protect what we have, not to take what others have.  In the end you have to be able to live with the life you save, especially if it’s your own.


bob may be a great guy. He might be a superb frontiersman and survivalist, but is he a prepper… I think no.


John Gault … somewhere in Georgia

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  1. If robbing, stealing and taking advantage of the defenseless is in your heart, then you’ll do it. I can’t see myself performing these crimes, although some survivalists believe that all changes when you’ve been hungry for a while. Revolutions have erupted over the same motivation. This brings to mind the debate over our security. I very much believe that the folks inclined to steal and pillage will go for the “soft targets”. Therefore, I am of the opinion that wire, fencing, warning signs and obstacles are a good idea. There is a large prepper lobby that argues to “hide in plain sight”. They claim that obvious defenses only make the family a target. I disagree. I think that gangs will go from one home to the next. They’ll rift through your stuff, whether the area looks inhabited, or not. If I were of the criminal mindset, I would definitely avoid the difficult, more dangerous properties.

  2. I see Bob’s fallback plan discussed by preppers all the time on many survival sites, it’s just phrased differently and with hefty doses of rationalization and subjective analysis added to justify to themselves, and others, that it’s really not wrong. I’ll even give Bob some credit for at least trying to survive using his own skills and resources first before turning to theft or robbery, some preppers discuss how they routinely scout out places to loot or good items to steal from local businesses or their neighbors today, with the plan of stealing at the first signs of major trouble. They don’t call it stealing or looting of course, but scavenging or foraging usually. My favorite, and a common one I read, are the preppers that classify looting versus scavenging based on what someone is stealing. Near as I can figure, anything they decide to steal that might improve their situation is considered scavenging, and if someone else’s choice of booty doesn’t meet their criteria then that’s looting. Another common one is the “it’s OK to scavenge abandoned property” plan. “Abandoned” apparently meaning no one is home at the time, or the “it’s not stealing if you don’t get caught” moral code I guess.

    So, props to Bob for at least inferring that he knows his plan is criminal. More dangerous, imo, are the people who believe they have some greater right to survive a disaster tomorrow, at your expense, just by virtue of calling themselves preppers today. Everyone knows Bob will be coming around eventually, but these “scavenger preppers” will be backing up the truck to steal from you on day #2. They’re just looters, and the old adage of “U loot, we shoot” applies.

  3. Only watched a few episodes of the NatGeo show “Doomsday preppers”. 1 episode had a guy from Washington or Oregon, I cant remember, he had a “group” of marauders. We are coming after your stuff. He tried his own armor, field medicine. Dude was and is a joke. Then come to find out not too long ago, he was a child molester. So this is the mentality of some of the people like these.

  4. “Had I completely missed this new and developing strategy for survival?”

    If you never heard the sentiment, “If I have a gun and you have food, I will have food and a gun,”
    you have indeed completely missed one of the oldest strategies for survival ever. Weird.

    • Missy –

      Do you not find it morally wrong to PLAN to steal from others? One of the reason why people prepare is to take care of themselves – not assure the demise of others.


  5. Bob, forgot one thing.
    Old age and treachery with defeat youth and strength every-time.
    My wife’s is a grandmother, she has grey hair, she’s also a Black Belt who can take down most men she meets.
    I also have grey hair and I know how to create and set booby traps. I am also a very good marksman, with seven years of Infantry training.
    It would be a real bitch if Bob stole some of my food that just happen to be laced with poison.

    • Missy – I am not denying that it will happen. What I – and I believe Mr. Gault is putting out there is that those that PLAN to do it are pieces of shit.

      I think that pretty much sums up my perspective.

      Respectfully – Rourke

  6. If you are already planing to rob others you are in the category of being my first target to clean things up. You are the type that won’t wait for your preps to run out. I live in a community “old” folks. We would welcome you with open ARMS. The “granny” next door prefers a Mossburg for welcoming “unwanted guest”. Come and see us – we’d be happy to “adjust” your “attitude”.

  7. During the 1991 LA Riots we saw a lot of people like that. The news called them “Looters”. I would now refer to them as “Dog Food”. After all, Looters gotta loot, Dogs gotta eat, right? (MUCH Sarcasm).

  8. When your last can of MH is empty (assuming you don’t stroke out from the sodium) are you going to curl up with your fancy firearms and wait to die?

    • Yes Missy – actually that is my plan. Obviously you foresee a total collapse back to the stone age. Consider the possibly that some people store extra supplies, food and water because there may be a hurricane, or a severe winter power outage? It IS possible that the world will not come to an end – and even if it does there are those of us that will band together for not only safety in numbers but the wealth of knowledge we possess in numbers. I am not sure what the pilgrim’s or the Indians did when their freeze dried food ran out…..Oh, wait….they didn’t have any.

  9. I have heard folks mention this same mentality. They’ve said they will just come out to the country and take my stuff. I have no doubt that people like this will be out there. But when they come, they will be on my turf an it will be unfamiliar to them.I’m not a wild man of some sort, but I think people that say they will take stuff think the rest of us will just lay down and take it. Could be the biggest mistake of their lives.

  10. Many times I have told others who express the ” I have guns so I can take what I want” mentality that most prep peers are armed and ready for them.

    They seem to fall back on “I will shoot them from out of their sight” then take their stuff.

    My thought at this point is that we need to have clear lines of sight, communications with all of the neighbors, and plans in place to back each other in the event that someone with the “your stuff is mine” mind set shows up from any direction. We live out in the country. In all directions there are 15 homes and families within 3/4 mile of my place. We know everyone, and they know everyone. We know who is ready (almost everyone) and who isn’t.

    But, if someone were to start shooting in their plan to steal, I think they would be surprised by bullets coming from every direction. There are only two neighbors that don’t have firearms, and they are in their 80’s but still have a good garden growing. I guess that is a major benefit of living away from the city, and in a gun friendly state.

  11. Missy,
    People who offer up a method of survival based on taking from others are an impediment to the recovery of society from whatever has created the crisis. These people normally have a very short life expectancy. Anyone can become self sufficient if they are willing to invest a little sweat equity. Unfortunately, in our society today, there are too many out there willing to sit on their rear end and wait on Big Brother to take care of them. The object that I see behind all of the prepping is to develop your skills to become as self sufficient as possible. Learn to use hand tools to fix or build what you need. Learn to grow your own food. Learn how to raise livestock from chickens and rabbits on up. Learn to fish, to hunt. There are so many skills out there we all need to understand and be able to perform. No one should approach them as learning to “work”. Instead, I find using my wood working tools as an adventure. Same with the gardening and raising the chickens. People should learn to do for themselves. These are the people who will be part of a recovery. People like Bob will be part of the fertilizer or offal that the buzzards eat.

  12. A post script to folks like Missy who obviously have questions:

    There used to be a series of books called the Fox Fire Books. It catalogs in a story format mountain people skills. I found them to be very interesting. I would definitely recommend these books to anyone.

  13. I live in a tight-knit neighborhood with 5 homes in it and on the water. Two of the homes are unoccupied as their owners have passed away and the kids use them as a weekend place on the lake in one case and a large storage unit in the other case. The two remaining homes are occupied by 60-70 year olds who very self sufficient and we regularly discuss preparation for events such as hurricanes which have previously left us without running water and electricity for extended periods, hunt together, etc. We’ve never openly discussed raiding the unoccupied homes for canned goods, but… I wouldn’t think twice about doing so in a prolonged situation where it was unsafe for us to venture out further, we run out of supplies (we have enough for a long time), and after we run out of deer, etc. Honestly its hard to imagine getting to the spot where we would need to raid the empty homes, but it wouldn’t bother me. I might leave them an IOU, but honestly if the situation were reversed I wouldn’t expect as much myself.

    That’s not holding a family at gunpoint and taking their last can of food, but we’ve all been in situations where two opposing parties misinterpreted the intentions of the other side and taken it much farther than was necessary even though both sides were generally “good” people. It would be naive to think this won’t happen on a regular basis.

    Also, Foxfire books are great. Random House bought up the rights recently and have started taking them down from various sites that had them posted for free, but you can still find the PDFs if you google around. This site has links to a few of them (I spot-checked and they seem like valid copies):

  14. The people I ‘prepare with’ (which includes several smaller groups) all believe in 3 common things:
    1. The Constitution
    2. Christian Charity
    3. Supporting the Legal Local Authority

    Most of us are law enforcement/former military and our long term goal is to be able to expand to the point of keeping our community together. bob’s fallback plan shows what it is in his heart now—so he really is already a thief and a murderer. It is one thing to scavenge(clearly abandoned homes/businesses), it’s another to loot and take it by force.
    The ‘bobs’ in our area will probably be shot on sight unless things have calmed down enough to afford them a trial(talking a common sense trial-not the current type of judicial system).

  15. BRIAN: Hey, just read your comment. I like the folks you prepare with. I believe in those 3 and more. If you would e-mail us we would like to help you “expand” and increase the togetherness of your communities. Send to [email protected]. Would like to chat with you. Looking for community that is safer than “out here in terror land”…

  16. Don’t contact me – I don’t support summary executions made irrationally in the heat of the moment. You can refer to my earlier comment regarding “situations where two opposing parties misinterpreted the intentions of the other side and taken it much farther than necessary”.

    In fact, I’ll have to get my constitution, bible, and local ordinances out and review the entire section on summary executions a little bit more carefully before believing you support items #1, #2, and #3.

  17. Missy, I understand where your coming from, we never know what we are capable of when we’re desperate. But the premise of this article was that rather than bob sufficiently stocking his pantry in the event his gardening, hunting and fishing didn’t pan out, he would forcibly take from others. Certainly you would agree that that is wrong, and a strategy that has no place in prepping.

    Now to your point that you or any of us would do the same thing should our own preps run out. I can’t say for sure what we may be capable of but I don’t believe you or I would ever carryout bob’s plan…. why is simple. We stockpile supplies, most don’t. Long before our stocks ran out most would have already starved or moved on. The beggers and thieves would have already picked all the low hanging fruit and the roaming hordes of well armed marauders will have claimed everything else not sufficiently protected.

    Missy, by the time you initiate bob’s fallback plan there won’t be anything left to take, and no one left to take it from…. That is the reality of it.

  18. @Dark Space. I’d agree that mistakes may occur, if you’d agree that it could be a zero-sum game of survival for a time and the instigator has to assume the risks for the actions he takes. It’s a nice gesture, but the owner can’t eat an IOU when he gets to his (2nd) home and is hungry.

    @Brian. I’m with Dark Space on this one. An ad hoc group with a vague description of what “adandoned”, “looter”, and “scavenger” means sounds exactly like what I referred to above. Is it like the difference between naked art and pornography? It’s hard to describe, but You just know it when You see it? OK for your group to rob, but not so for Bob – that’s how I read your comment. Careful your group doesn’t become a victim of its own brand of justice.

  19. A.C., I had no idea that this subject was so widely discussed. Yes, of course I have read a few comments similar to bob’s, which I usually attribute to -keyboard bravado- and -ego stroking-, not as serious strategy… I guess I was wrong.

    I have yet to come across “How-To” articles discussing the best methods and practices for successfully carrying out bob’s plan or outlining the various techniques and tactics for relieving your neighbor of his/her property. I have zero doubt that the reason for that is that this type of activity is not only considered unacceptable, it is denounced by most people who call themselves preppers.

  20. I am always impressed by the comments left by MSO readers, they are often better than the articles that spawn them….

  21. Rourke- great comment re Bob. Thanks for getting John G aboard -his very well articulated thoughts are also interesting.
    We preppers take responsibility for our actions and lack there of . The bully and criminal types do not. It will be necessary to utilize a combination of skills for survival.( preparation, weapons, good folks helping one another, bartering, leadership,medical know how
    etc. -caching preps, out thinking the evil ones.Terrorism exists now and will then.Most people are good but they may be totally overwhelmed when the SHTF. Adrenaline can work wonders. Pray for the best and prepare for the worst.
    I once heard a man say in a restaurant that he will survive because he will rob the Amish because they wont fight. I looked this stranger in the eye and said ah but they have many “English” neighbors who will fight to defend them and I am one of them.
    Pray for the best…prepare for the worst. Arlene

  22. Someone note the risk that you misjudge the duration of the crisis and two months after the SHTF the rule of Law is restored and you become a wanted man. I think one should not that the opposite is also true–if thing go bad long term looting and pilaging will likely never hold you over, forcing more looting and stealing. Long term people WILL react and eventually you will take on defenders too numerous for your number, and without the rule of law you will be shown no quarter!!!

    The looting strategy only works in the mid to short term and ultimately ends badly for most crooks.

  23. Something else to keep in mind in terms of advance-planning and preparation.

    In order not to cast untrue aspersions on the original “Bob”, I’ll call the theoretical-generic-character “Mike”, instead (because that was my local character’s name). Things may be a bit different North of the Mason-Dixon Line, but you probably know the guy anyway.

    In just about every community, there’s a “Mike”. Mike never kept a menial job more than 2 weeks in a row, in his whole life. Mike will steal anything that’s not nailed-down, and that’s only because he spent the money on alcohol, or weed or harder drugs, instead of a hammer or a crowbar. Mike is ‘friends’ with all the local dealers and thieves, but you can sit in traffic behind him and watch him hunch down in the seat when a cop or a ‘lo-rider’ drives past, because he’s either wanted, or owes somebody money, or both. If you reside anywhere close to Mike, you have probably been asked “Can you do me a big favor?” and have probably heard him screaming at his wife/gf/whaterver-of-the-moment, “just be nice to them, they’re paying good money”, out in the street.

    Mike thinks he’s a hot-stuff predator, who runs everything, because he owns a nasty-looking knife he picked up a flea-market, and his grandpa’s pistol that hasn’t been fired or cleaned since Herbert Hoover was President. Everyone else is his target of opportunity.

    Ol’ Mike has painted a big target on his chest. Learn to recognize your local “Mike”. He’s going to be the first one to “go bad” when the local 7-11 runs out of beer and chips.

  24. Bob’s plan to steal from others should be a last resort. I have a really hard time imagining myself ever stooping to that level but I’ve never been so famished I couldn’t care for myself. I would be much more inclined to try and meet folks who could help me than try and steal from them.

  25. And here-in lies the problem! Just like the way we wage war these days, people lead themselves to beleave there must be some sort of rules both sides have to adhere too and as soon as one side dosent the other cries foul. We cant win a war when we cant engage first, let popularity polls dictate tactical agendas or even water-board while the other side is busy cutting off heads and bombing women and little kids. People these days tend to have a very “fluffy” version of what survival and the End of Days might be like. I even saw a show about preppers in England who reckoned he had all the info he needed to survive stored on his mobile phone! Ive been through a 1/2 doz situations where the phones and Net were the 1st things to go down, and werent restored for weeks. In a world gone wrong where the toughest survive, that dude and his family will. No ifs buts or maybes, and Gualt will be layin dead somewhere cold and stiff in the knowledge that he played the game far when the other fello didnt.

  26. Anthony,

    The fact that we may not be the ones going door to door and taking the possessions or, likely, the lives of others doesn’t mean we won’t defend ourselves, our families, or the lives of others when Bob or those of his ilk show up.

    The fact that we are more capable of growing food, preserving any harvest we have, and truly taking care of the things that need to be taken care of, or defended if it comes to that, does NOT mean Bob will make demands on our preparations or our lives.

    I believe that those like Bob would be unable to survive without joining with others of his same ideology, and would likely find himself begging and or fighting for the scraps leftover by the bigger dogs in his “group”. But, they would soon find that their numbers continually decrease through attrition as people pick them off. They may win some here and there, but they will fail in the longer term.

    Maybe, just maybe, that is what the world needs today.

  27. Anthony, again I will repeat that the premise of this article was that rather than bob taking the necessary steps to improve his own chances of survival, he instead plans to steal what others have & need, and thereby dooming their survival. I purposely gave a taste of some of what might be involved so as to minimize the romanticising of it.

    In what I wrote, and in the many comments I read I saw no delusions as to the seriousness or reality of what surviving might mean. It is true that there is a far greater chance than not that we will have to defend what we have… perhaps even from people like you. It’s a major concern that most of us plan for. Some will be more successful than others, not everyone will save themselves.

    For some, the question remains, will we eventually become what we plan to protect ourselves from? A major reason for prepping is it will help us avoid what most will have to deal with. We won’t have to join the rampaging masses looting the grocery & convenience stores for the last few cans of beans & potted meat. Our preps insure that we will miss out on most of the short term danger & suffering… but not all. In the long run I guess it depends on how successful our prepping plans have been.

    I admit that I have a pretty sweet setup, so my long term prospects look pretty good. Not everyone can say that. I have a couple of elderly neighbors, I suppose that if the -world goes wrong- I could run over, hit them in their heads and add their stuff to mine! I have another neighboring couple (good friends) who are very well stocked. I’m sure I could easily surprise and overpower them, their food would last me a long time… But the better plan, the one that is easier to lay my head on at night, the one that leaves my humanity intact, and the one we will follow, is to pool our resources and work together to care and protect our neighbors and each other. There are others who, if they can get here, will help with this. Not a single one believes we should go house to house and take what we might need for our own futures. Why, having someone like that in our group might cause the rest of us to worry… if our own stocks started running low. After all, the fewer the names on the rationing schedule, the longer the food lasts.

    So Anthony, if what I said to Missy, that it will come fairly quickly when “there won’t be anything left to take, and no one left to take it from” is true, and I believe it is, how long will you wait before you start going house to house? How long before I’m watching you through my rifle’s 9X, scoping out my place… and drawing plans to take what we have? I’m betting it’s not very long….

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