It’s easy to become a victim in a parking lot. All it takes is a lack of awareness on your part, and a predator looking for his next target.
Predators don’t like it when people fight back. So they look for people who appear to be unaware and preoccupied. They make easier victims.
Don’t make their job easier.
Related Post: 6 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Victim
1…Remember Where You Parked Your Vehicle
Take a look in almost any busy parking lot. You’ll probably see at least one person wandering the lot, searching for their vehicle.
I get it. I’ve done it myself.
You’re in a hurry, or your mind is on other things. You park, get out, hit the lock button and go into the store.
Then, when you’re ready to leave, you have no idea where you parked. Besides being frustrating and/or embarrassing, it can also be dangerous.
Thugs like people who are distracted and not paying attention to their surroundings.
When you’re searching for your vehicle, your concentration is focused on finding your vehicle. You may be irritated because your frozen food is starting to perspire, or you’re in a hurry, or it’s raining/snowing/sleeting, or all of the above.
And you’re probably feeling flustered because you don’t even know where to begin to look for your car.
On top of that, you’re feeling self-conscious because you’re wandering around lost. And you just KNOW that everyone else is laughing at you! But no matter what you’re feeling, odds are you are not aware of your surroundings.
It’s the perfect time for a thug to grab you, your purse, and/or your bags.
Always remember where you parked. Make a mental note every time you park your car.
Better yet, write it down or record it on your phone. Look around for physical markers to help remind you. It’s worth the extra few seconds it takes.
2…Unlocking and Locking Your Vehicle
Don’t unlock your vehicle until you are ready to get out. And look around before you get out. Look for suspicious activity and/or someone lurking around your car.
Always lock the doors. It amazes me how many people still leave their vehicles unlocked! They make it too easy for thieves to steal their stuff and their cars.
And although the thought of a predator hiding in your back seat waiting to pounce on you may sound ridiculous, it does happen. Don’t let it happen to you.
And while we’re on the subject of parking and locking your car, how many times have you gotten out of your car, started walking toward the store, and pressed the lock button as you held your key fob over your shoulder?
We’ve all done it. That’s the convenience of having a key fob.
But you should always look at your car when you lock it.
There have been instances where thieves have sneaked up to the vehicle and opened one of the doors just before the owner hit the lock button.
The owner heard the beep, assumed the vehicle was secure, and never looked back. The thief was then free to steal the contents or the car.
Keep an eye on your vehicle while you’re locking it. Just in case.
Related Post: Self Defense and Safety in Your Vehicle
3…Avoid Parking Next to Panel Vans, Large Vehicles, or Vehicles with Someone in the Driver’s Seat
Panel vans are vans that only have a windshield and windows for the driver and passenger. There are no windows around the rest of the van. It’s easy to conceal something or, worse, someone, in the back of panel vans.
Some predators like to use panel vans to throw their victims into and drive off with them.
Don’t park next to one, especially if there is a person sitting in the driver’s seat.
Large vehicles can provide cover for thugs so you won’t realize they are there. Then they can take you by surprise.
Also, if you do get attacked, you’re less likely to be seen by people going in and out of the store.
Avoid parking near vehicles that have someone in the driver’s seat. Probably, they’re simply waiting for their passenger to get back from the store. But… they could be waiting for a victim to park next to them.
They may already have the engine running and there could be a second thug hiding in the back seat, waiting to jump out and pull you into their vehicle
If you come back from the store and find that any of these types of vehicles have parked next to your car, you have some deciding to do.
If the vehicle is on the driver’s side of your car, you could enter your car through the passenger door. Be very careful though because once you unlock all your doors, a predator could jump into the driver’s seat.
If you do enter on the passenger side, once you open the passenger door, immediately press the door lock button. That way, no one can jump in any of the other doors.
You could decide to wait until they leave, or you could ask a store employee or a store/mall security person to walk out with you. No matter what you decide, be aware of your surroundings at all times.
And as soon as you get in your car, lock the doors and leave the area immediately.
4…Avoid Parking Next to Cart Corrals
I know it can be more convenient to park next to a cart corral. Especially if you are returning a large/bulky item, if you are returning bottles and cans (we do that in my State), and/or you plan on returning to your vehicle with a cart.
But, if you park there, you should be extra aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to assume that anyone approaching the corral (and walking near you) is simply putting their cart away. So it’s easy to not pay them much attention.
But one of those people might be a thug hoping to take you by surprise and grab your purse or purchases.
And especially avoid cart corrals that have large plants/bushes on either side of the corral. They may be pretty, but it’s easy for thugs to hide there, especially in the dark.
Think it won’t happen to you?
I read an article a while ago that admonished articles like this one. The author said that the “thug lurking in the bushes” just didn’t happen “all that often.” Which, given her choice of words, shows that she knows that they are happening.
Frankly, I was shocked that she didn’t think posts like this were necessary.
Personally, I don’t know the statistics. But I DO know that these kinds of attacks happen. And they’re happening all across the country. And the victims never believed it would happen to them.
And, even if they are infrequent, does that mean we shouldn’t bother advising people about this danger?
So please don’t discount the possibility of being attacked by a stranger. No one is completely safe.
The key to being safer anywhere is to be aware of your surroundings.
Keep your eyes open and look around. It could save your valuables from being stolen. I could save you from getting hurt. It could even save your life.
Related Post: Do You Live in a Crime-free Zone?