Why do parking lots scare many of us when it comes to violent crime? It starts with the fact that similarly to hotel hallways, they often seem to be void of people, especially at night. Combined with the other fact that many high-rise garage parking lots are designed with security-unfriendly areas such as walls, pillars and elevation changes (where people may be lurking) and we begin to see the reason why our common sense makes us apprehensive. Even large open parking lots like the ones attached to shopping malls can offer a thief or violent predator great visibility to watch for security patrols, escape routes and potential victims.
Types of Crime
The most common parking lot crime is vandalism or theft. In regards to violent crime, the most common are purse snatching, robbery, carjacking and abductions.
The design, lack of people, and horror stories we’ve all heard about all combine with our natural instincts to bring forth apprehension around certain lots and garages. And don’t be mistaken, this is a good thing.
Without normal apprehension we’d be walking off cliffs, walking into traffic, and in short, doing some real stupid, dangerous things. Of course, I’m simplifying a bit about the positives of our natural common sense; however, our natural instincts are real and useful.
You do not need to feel foolish if you find yourself nervous in circumstances where common sense dictates apprehension. The key for you is to not become over apprehensive. Calm, awareness of dangerous possibilities is what’s needed.
There are certain things we can do to lesson our chances of being victims of violent crime in and around lots. Here are some important tips:
Park in well-lighted areas–well lit means you can see 100 feet at night
Go out of your way and spend the extra time to park in well-traveled, busier areas
If you are alone, come and go with groups of people who may be walking your way
Lock your vehicle doors when you leave your car
If available, and you feel uncomfortable, ask for a security officer to walk you to your car
Do not walk with your mind consumed by thoughts such as what you need to purchase or other tasks you may have to attend to later. Be aware about what is going on around you NOW. Are there suspicious people in the area or near your car? Is there a van parked next to your vehicle that wasn’t there before? Be aware of present dangers and act accordingly.
Get in your car as quickly as possible. Most abduction’s occur when people are getting into or loading up their vehicles
Immediately, lock your doors. This should become second nature, like putting your seat belt on whenever you get into your car
If available, and you can afford it, use valet parking
You can also choose to carry self-defense weapons such as Pepper-Spray or other legal items for your safety and security. If you chose this option, remember to become truly knowledgeable in their use and have it close and ready at hand.
Calm, realistic awareness is the beginning step you need. In addition to your awareness, stay mindful of the tips mentioned, along with trusting your common sense and you’ll be much better off going to and from your parking lot destinations.