However there are rare cases in which looting and violence can become widespread. Ripley interviewed Enrico Quarantelli, director of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware about his Theory of Looting which posits that widespread looting only seems to happen when the four following conditions are all present:
- Dramatic disparity between rich and poor.
- High levels of petty crime and gang activity. ("Gangs are almost always the leaders in any case of mass looting”)
- An ineffective and corrupt police force. ("A corrupt and ineffective police force doesn’t scare anyone")
- A massive catastrophe.
Ripley observes, "Notice that three of the four conditions are all pre-requisites, present before the actual disaster strikes. Another reminder that the health of a city after a disaster is directly related to the health before the disaster."