17.06.2020

Looting in the city of Pripyat

How Pripyat was taken apart

Looting in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone existed almost from the first day of the appearance of the Zone itself and, in one form or another, continues to this day.  The plunder of the Zone can be divided into two waves - the first wave was in the late eighties, when looters dragged household appliances, furniture, carpets, and everything else from Pripyat more or less valuable.  I must say that at that time the marauders did not act too actively, since measures were taken in Pripyat to protect buildings and prevent things from being taken away, many of which posed a direct radiation hazard.  All valuable things more or less were taken to the Rainbow store (for further use for the needs of the Zone), and some of the things were taken to burial grounds.  The city's entrances were under the alarm system, the wires of which were connected to the central checkpoint of the city, and the streets were occasionally patrolled by armed guards driving BRDM vehicles.


The second wave began around the middle of the nineties and was actively developing in the two thousandths - after Pripyat was finally abandoned and many research projects that were based on the city’s infrastructure were closed.  Those few household items that were in Pripyat at that time were already obsolete and did not represent any value.  The "second wave" came mainly to the city in search of metal- their prey was cast iron, steel, copper and aluminum from various buildings and structures.  One of the major thefts of those years was covered in detail on the Internet - a whole truck came to Pripyat to take out sawn pig-iron batteries from apartments.
So, today we will walk through the buildings and structures of the Chernobyl Zone and talk about the traces of the activities of looters.


Pripyat, the building of the savings bank.  It was one of the first to be looted from top to bottom in search of money and bonds - it can be assumed that this happened in the second half of the eighties.  It is worth paying attention to the lack of glazing of some buildings - these are already traces of the activities of the “second wave” marauders who stole huge aluminum window frames in almost all the central buildings of the city, including the savings bank, Energetik, a restaurant and many others.


 Most likely, the security at the checkpoint was bribed and pretended not to hear the sound of punchers and not to see trucks driving through the checkpoint loaded with aluminum.


Ticket offices of the cinema "Prometheus".  Apparently, they were also plundered back in the eighties.  Behind the bars are two long-opened metal safes.  In general, cash desks and banks robbed in the first place – looters searched for savings books, checks, bonds and money.


 Household goods store.  Perhaps, from all the shops of Pripyat it is in the worst condition - literally nothing remained inside.  There is a green frame from a road bike lying around, a couple of racks left, the remains of shop windows - and that’s all.  In this state, the store is already very, very long time.  I think it was robbed one of the first, because they knew that there could be valuable things.


Cafe "Pripyat" at the river port of the city.  Here you can see traces of not just looting, but also real vandalism - inverted bar counters, broken remains of stoves in the kitchen.  Someone was just smashing things in the cafe.
 To prevent theft, part of household appliances in Pripyat was taken to the huge premises of the central store called Rainbow.  The store was under alarm until around the end of the nineties.  Now all the things in the store are no longer needed by anyone and the looters are not interested - time has done its job.


Each Pripyat entrance has opened mailboxes; all equipment has long been stolen from all electrical boxes.  In this state, the entrances were already towards the end of the nineties.  Inside some porches you can see a smoked ceiling - these are already traces of the activities of the “second wave” marauders - they collected wires and burned insulation to get pure copper and aluminum - a job very mysterious by the disproportionality of the forces invested and the resulting funds.


Some entrances are literally filled with the remnants of broken furniture that someone once pulled out of apartments and threw it on the stairs.  On the stairwells you can often find the remains of electric stoves, some kind of spoiled electrical appliances, pulled out cabinets and armchairs.  Cut floors of plumbing pipes are lying on some floors - apparently, copper taps were screwed from them.  The metal structures of the elevator shafts are still intact - most likely, this is due only to the difficulty of dismantling them without special tools and without urban climbing skills.


Our tourists often ask the question: - is it really possible now in some far corner of Pripyat to find an apartment "that everyone forgot about", and where everything remained "like in 1986".  With absolute certainty, we can say that the last such apartment ceased to exist in the late eighties and early nineties.  All apartments in Pripyat are now open and broken, looters have visited each dozens of times.  The “typical” Pripyat apartment looks like this: empty wall cabinets in the hallway, a rotten sofa and the remains of a broken “wall” in the living room, an empty bedroom, a broken stove in the kitchen, children's sandals and old photographs on the nursery floor.  The smell of damp, whitewashing on the floor and fallen wallpaper.  That’s it.
At some entrances to the buildings you can still see the remains of the contact alarm, which worked in Pripyat until the early 1990s.


The main problem of the illegal export of things, equipment and materials from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is that radioactive objects and materials fall into uncontrolled circulation.  The tile from Pripyat now lies at someone’s house, the re-melted irradiated metal continues to “shine” in new details, and people continue to breathe radioactive dust from old radio sets.