The AP reports on some incidents [of looting], and quotes Houston Police Capt. Dwayne Ready, who makes a good point -- in a way obvious, but perhaps not entirely clear to every one:And as long as we're making good-though-obvious points, it's worth noting that looting provides relatively direct evidence of the deterrence hypothesis. Some analysts (criminologists, sociologists, etc.) claim that the probability and severity of punishment don't really affect the amount of crime that occurs. But looting happens primarily because people realize that if lots of other people are stealing too, law enforcement resources must be spread thinner, and thus the chance of any one thief getting caught falls."I think the key element in looting is the fact that those who would not otherwise engage themselves in criminal activity (join in) and believe they will be able to hide in the crowd,” Ready said. “It’s the difference between an unlawful assembly and a riot. Essentially (looting) is theft but I think its [sic] when the crowd believes they can hide against the anonymity of a large crowd engaged in the same kind of conduct."