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What To Do If Your Business Was Looted

Chris Wojcik
Chris Wojcik Student, Loyola University Chicago
Chris Wojcik is a senior at Loyola University Chicago in the Multimedia Journalism program.
  • Image by:
    272447 from Pixabay
broken glass, What to do if your business was looted.

If your business has been damaged by looting or robbery, you may be asking some questions about how to rebuild. We’ve found some answers for you. 


Does anyone have to help me clean up?


Unfortunately, it’s no one’s responsibility to help you clean after your property has been damaged. 


However, there have been reports of volunteers helping out in various cities around the country.


If you have social media accounts, use them to ask your loyal customers if they are willing to lend a hand.


You can also search on Google for your city’s name and the phrase “help businesses after looting.”


You will likely come across a list of organizations that are working to connect volunteers and business owners. 


In Chicago, for example, one news organization compiled such a list.


Is damage caused by looting covered by insurance?


This answer depends on your insurance provider.


Chances are, a certain amount will be covered. 


You will likely have to pay out of pocket until you reach your deductible. 


The first step is to contact your insurance provider and ask, or read your insurance policy. 


Many businesses, like these in LA, have insurance but aren’t sure exactly what they are insured for.


Many landlords require businesses to have their property and inventory insured, thus they will likely already have a sort of liability insurance in place.


However, not all landlords require this insurance, meaning that businesses that are uninsured will likely have to pay out of pocket to fix damages.


What can I do to prevent future looting?


In 25 states, you are allowed to defend your property if you feel someone is threatening you. 


However, almost all states assert that circumstances matter. 


If you harm someone who is attacking you or your property, you have to prove that you have reasonable fear for your safety. 


Typically you can’t use force on someone unless your own life, or someone else’s life, is in danger.


What means can I use to protect my business?


This depends on the state that you are in.


In about half of the states, you can use deadly force to defend yourself against an armed robbery.


This resource from ProPublica includes analysis of each state that has a variation of a “stand your ground” law. Many of these laws were initially created and advocated for to protect victims of domestic abuse. 


In Illinois, you can use violent force to defend yourself in any armed robbery, or other “forcible felony.”


In California, you can’t use violent force unless it’s reasonably clear that there is a threat of imminent danger.


If you state doesn’t have a “stand your ground law,” you should refer to the self defense laws to understand what you are allowed to do. Most self-defense laws require an imminent threat of danger.


Some small business owners recommend taking these non-violent steps to protect your store:

  • Take High Valuable Merchandise Out of the Store
  • Keep Lights On
  • Invest in Security Cameras to help catch looters
  • Boarding Windows
  • Getting liability insurance
  • Contact the Police 

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