Criminal Hiding Places
Waiting for Prey
In a busy store or shop, there is a low probability of being assaulted physically, but the odds of being attacked or robbed increase if you are parked in an out-of-the-way location. They are usually outdoor parking lots set off from main buildings, or multilevel garages connected to an indoor mall or department store and reached by a tightly winding circular ramp.
Customers who may be confused about their vehicles’ location, loaded down with packages, and concentrating on the search for their vehicle make perfect prey for these hunters.
Choose parking spot carefully
It is recommended that you choose your parking spot with great care. In many downtown areas, for example, try to use an attended parking garage, but remember to remove any personal-identification items from your vehicle and leave only your ignition key with the attendant. If you are parking in a shopping center, select a spot near the main stream of traffic – the end of the row is ideal. You should choose a space near an entrance or elevator if you decide to park in a multilevel garage connected to a store or mall. If you are having a shopping excursion that is likely to go past sundown, be sure to park near a source of light. Avoid parking near extensive shrubbery, as it provides a perfect cover for a criminal. Do not park next to an occupied vehicle or near suspicious-looking individuals.
Parking Lot Safety Tips
Distractions are plentiful when shopping. It is so easy to become engaged in something else and not be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you have to deal with your children, the possibilities of harm seem to grow the further away you are from the store. Crooks depend on these things.
Here are some safety tips to avoid potential trouble for self-defense and parking lot safety.
- Always lock your vehicle, both when you’re driving and once you’ve parked. Make this a habit.
- When you get ready to park your car, scan the area for anyone or anything suspicious.
- Park as close to your destination as possible.
- Don’t leave your keys in the ignition. (you’d be surprised)
- Don’t leave valuables (GPS, cell phone, wallets, cash, etc) in the vehicle in plain sight. If you secure your belongings in the trunk, make sure no one is watching you store them there. Many trunks can be accessed by pushing a release button inside the car, and a thief will break into your car in order to access the trunk area if it is worth his/her effort.
- Back into a parking space if possible, so that you can exit quickly, if needed.
- Try making your shopping trips during the day. Crooks mostly operate under cover of darkness.
- Always be aware of your surroundings, and don’t be distracted by talking on your cell phone. Is the parking lot well-lit?
- Upon approaching your car look around, in, underneath and next to your car.
- Once inside the car, quickly lock all doors. Most people let their guard down once inside their car.
- If you are alone wait until others walk by and join them from a distance.
- Avoid strangers. Again trust your instinct.
- Keep your cell phone in a pocket or somewhere easily accessible.
- You may opt to carry some non-lethal personal protection product like a stun gun or pepper spray.
- Wear comfortable shoes when walking to your car, so that you could run if necessary.
- If you see someone tamper or damage a vehicle, call the police immediately - 911.
Remember to trust your instincts – you can’t ever be too careful.