Any time that you have to walk to your car in a parking lot or in a parking garage, you are unfortunately at risk for being approached, or worse, perhaps even attacked. Parking lots and parking garages are notorious for being dangerous places. With little pedestrian activity, poor lighting and plenty of places to hide, there are excellent opportunities for would-be assailants to find victims. Here are five important safety tips for crime avoidance in parking lots and garages:
- Always try to find a very well-lit and well-traveled garage or lot to park in. Park as close as you can to a light post. Always lock your doors and leave your windows fully rolled up.
- Have everything you need ready and organized before you unlock your doors and try to get out of the car. Fumbling around to gather your things causes you to not pay careful attention to your surroundings, and offers an assailant a chance to approach you.
- As you approach your car to get in, be sure to look around all sides. Have your keys out before you leave the building—do not wait until you are near your car to start fumbling in your pockets or purse looking for them. If there is a large van or SUV parked next to your driver’s side, get in on the passenger side. Before getting in your car, check the back seat to make sure nobody is inside. Try to look underneath your car as well, before approaching to get in.
- When returning to your car, get inside, immediately lock the doors and begin to drive off. Do not sit in your car and make a shopping list, fix your makeup, rummage through your purse, or review your purchases.
- Never offer to assist someone who claims to be lost, locked out of their car, or needing information or directions. Remember what you learned as a young child—don’t talk to strangers. A common ruse for predators is to appear vulnerable themselves (e.g., locked out or lost). Offer to call 911 for them once you reach your own car and are safely locked inside. Wait to make the call until you have driven away, though; don’t sit in your car for any length of time.
It is just about impossible to avoid using parking lots and parking garages, but you can always remember to use your common sense and do everything you can to prioritize your personal protection. If you can avoid traveling at night alone, this is best. For times when you must go alone, be sure to remain constantly vigilant about your surroundings and always aware of who is around. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or threatened, find somewhere else to park. If you are returning to your car and feel uncomfortable, return to the building and either use your cell phone to call for help or find a security person or employee that can assist you. Never take your personal safety for granted, regardless of how “safe” you perceive a particular location to be. Predators could be lurking anywhere, and you want to do everything you can to avoid becoming their victim.