Course Book: 2018 Criminological Theory, 7th Edition by Frank P. Williams III & Marilyn D. McShane
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, widespread looting occurred in the city. For example, in the city’s Carrollton section, looters stole a forklift and used it to push up the storm shutters and break the glass of a Rite-Aid pharmacy. People ran into the store carrying out necessities such as ice, water and food. However, in some cases it was hard to tell whether the looting was used as a mechanism to obtain necessities or used by common criminals as a means to obtain merchandise. New Orleans’ homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns. At the time, there were gangs of armed individuals moving around the city. On New Orleans’ Canal Street, dozens of looters ripped open the steel gates of clothing and jewelry stores and grabbed merchandise. In Biloxi, Mississippi, people picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses. Because law enforcement and other governmental officials were concerned with search and rescue of survivors first, additional officers and resources had to be called in to respond to the looting.
How can social disorganization theory be used to explain the looting in New Orleans? What neighborhood factors can lead to this type of behavior?