Why So Much Looting After Katrina?

Seth Masket compares Japan to New Orleans:

[W]hile one angle here is that Japanese looting has been underreported, the other is that American looting has probably been overreported.

The media reported many stories about looting and other illegal behavior in the days after Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. However, as Cooper and Block noted in their book Disaster, these stories were often false or grossly exaggerated. Moreover, they point out, these reports tended to ignore another notable human reaction to the collapse of infrastructure: spontaneous community building. The book cites numerous instances of people banding together to create kitchens, shelters, and modes of transportation in New Orleans at a time when local, state, and federal governments failed to do that.