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Power Blackout Causes Looting


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Total power blackout and people starting looting

Working as a security guard in a large super regional shopping centre I saw some amazing things. People don't realise that shopping centres are actually small cities.

Over 35,000 people came through this centre every day and it had over 2,000 retail staff just to run the 500 stores inside. To service this there were dozens of security guards and cleaners every hour of the day.

On shift during the afternoon the shopping centre had a massive power blackout throwing the entire building into solid blackness. It is a surreal experience being inside a busy well lit mall when it is thrown into darkness. The first thing that happened was that it went really quite as people adjusted to the fact it was dark and they couldn't see.

I stood still listening and waiting for the generator to start. All large buildings have backup generators. I guess a lot of people don't know this because while I was waiting I heard breaking glass and running footsteps everywhere around me. It was only dark for about 10 seconds before the lights came back on.

I was surprised to see customers frozen in place like cockroaches with armloads of clothing and items they had just stolen from stores. There was broken store windows and empty clothing racks spinning everywhere while some customers decided to make the most of the opportunity.

The customers now realised that the lights were on and they were caught red handed as it were. People just starting running and dropping stolen items everywhere.

The power failure caused some of the money change machines to malfunction and they were spitting out dollar coins across the tiled floor. I saw two young males with pockets open and letting the machines fill them.

The two males then started running down the mall with filled pockets weighing them down. I could see they had just worked out how heavy 200 gold coins really are. I caught them and recovered all the coins while they were laying on the ground struggling to breathe.

Interesting behaviour

After the recovery of most of the goods we held a debriefing session discussing what caused this mass looting to take place within 10 seconds of darkness. The fact that it was dark meant that the chance of getting caught was very low and it took advantage of the security guards being confused with the sudden change of environment.

What they didn't count on was that we had patrolled the malls so much we didn't need lights to walk around it and there was no confusion because we knew the generators would activate quickly as we trained in fire evacuation and power failure drills every two months.

© Copyright 2008 by Paul Baker

Information supplied by Paul Baker

Over twenty years security & risk management experience across Australia to protect corporate clients from critical incidents and security risks. Previously served in the Military and expert in explosives, weapons, and information gathering techniques. Achieved formal qualifications in a wide range of security risk management skills and commendations for crisis response operations

Security Manager
03 9642 0599


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