Two of the main professions pod pilots engage in are mission running and mining. With these occupations attracting such large numbers, it is of little surprise to most that there are other more shady lines of work that thrive off the efforts of these pilots, namely ore theft and “ninja” salvaging. Although victims of these two activities question the morality of what they consider stealing, they also begrudgingly admit that the “thieves” are well within the bounds of current law.
Almost as old as the act of mining itself, ore theft has evolved significantly since its first days. Originally undertaken as a quick way to grab ore without the drudgery of mining it, ore thieves could at one point “acquire” as much raw material as their ships could hold, all with complete impunity. Pressure from the mining community eventually forced CONCORD to rule that stealing ore was indeed a crime. From that moment, retaliation by the victim was sanctioned.
Within only days of the new ruling, opportunistic ore thieves discovered they could work the new laws to their own favor. Often they would perform a “reverse aggression” tactic to legally destroy the miner’s ship, letting them not only take all the ore mined but also any surviving modules. In a reverse aggression tactic, the ore thief would steal the ore from a miner’s jettison container and replace the container with his own. If the miner then reclaimed the ore from the “flipped” container, he would incur the aggression charge of the ore thief. Buoyed by CONCORD intervention, many novice miners fell victim to this “loophole” in the new legislation.
With the advent of Hulks and salvage abilities, incidents of reverse aggression escalated into a new profession. Pod pilot Elthen estimates that there are now “80% ‘flippers’ [and] 20% looking for ore”. Espejo Roto said, “I know of a [new pod pilot] who took out a Retriever, Exequror, and Scythe [in] solo [combat]. Aside from having a ball, he got more money from the few minutes of conflict than he could have hoped for from days missions. A Retriever drops a million or two, and Hulks are juicy, so when it takes less than a minute to kill the miner... it's much better than mission boredom.” “Saying it’s a full faction hulk, maybe 500 million ISK if his booster drops”, added SkippyTheWonderTard.
One anonymous “flipper” tells us that “it’s near impossible to lose your pod in empire, so we can fly top end faction implants…with relative safety for the implants at least”
Defense against this type of thievery is possible, but costly in either time or manpower. One pilot, DuPuy, has gone so far as to keep friends nearby to move the ore immediately and provide combat and logistic support to protect his mining ship.
As detailed in an article earlier this year, “ninja” salvagers are pilots that salvage wrecks of mission contractees; commonly at times when the mission pilot is still in battle. Tchell Dahhn, CEO of Suddenly Ninjas, claims that “I don't have an issue with those running missions for their agents per se, but when I fly into a deadspace zone, only to find the wrecks created by some headstrong pilot floating, broken, and left to rot, it angers me… if they would only clear up after their battles, cleaning my space, we wouldn't really have an issue, now, would we?”
Despite tongue-in-cheek claims of only cleaning up abandoned wrecks, Tchell was observed making this comment: “I've rigged up three salvage tackles to make the job fast and efficient. Sure, they cost more than 40 million ISK, but they were worth it! Ask the mission runner who's busy tractoring a wreck towards them, and I salvage the wreck right from within their grasp!”
Ownership of the salvage is what seems to be the key argument from both sides. M’ing Pai stated that: “I firmly believe that the idea that the wrecks aren't owned by the mission runner or his corp is completely shaky… If you aren't a member of that runner's corp or gang, you can't tractor it… If you shoot it, and you're not a member of the runner's corporation or the runner himself, CONCORD comes to defend against an aggressive act against someone else's property.”
Tchell is quick to point out that: “If this was some type of theft, I’m certain the CONCORD Constabulary would come knocking on my door!”
Despite the frustration of mission runners throughout New Eden, salvage has so far been deemed to have no ownership; thus legitimizing Ninja Salvage as a profession that some deem “even lower” than ore thievery. With the recent rise of battlefield wrecks due to Militia activities, ninja salvagers have even been known to follow militia fleets around in the hopes of grabbing some scraps. This activity has added even more confusion to militia fights as overview settings become filled with "neutral" ships mixed in with hostiles.