Looting is a common part of the aftermath of social confusion—war, disaster, coups, revolutions. One incentive for stealing is to take food and valuable items from unprotected shops and houses. Another motive is revenge against former oppressors and can include wanton vandalism to property, often accompanied by graffiti. Pillage by crowds can reach a violent frenzy. Looting is somewhat infectious and otherwise honest people get caught up in the heady moment of collective theft. But looters usually feel no shame. After the rich pickings come the poor. What is stolen or damaged may be so meagre or pointless that people go home with things they do not know why they took.
Enraged by soaring prices and low wages, crowds, many led by women and children, looted stores and supermarkets in Argentina in 1989. Altogether more than 1,500 looters were arrested nationwide. Poverty-stricken looters stripped expatriate houses and factories in Zaire after the collapse of government in 1991.