According to the FBI Crime Clock 2010, “there is a robbery every 1.4 minutes, a rape every 6.2 minutes and an aggravated assault every 40.5 seconds.” Lone women are the most likely victims of these crimes.
Parking lots and garages always represent dangers for women. As the economy remains bad, the days get shorter and the holidays quickly approach, these dangers increase. Muggers, thieves and other bad guys will be out in droves. Here’s some common sense tips to help you protect yourself.
Travel In Groups
The buddy system works. Assailants look for easy targets–usually lone women. If you have to go out at night, bring a friend or family member. If you have to go out alone, try to walk to and from your vehicle when other groups of shoppers are in the parking lot. Predators do not want witnesses or potential heroes.
Select The Best Parking Space
Select a parking space that is under or near a light. Park as close to the shopping center or store as possible this will reduce your exposure to potential parking lot dangers. Be sure to lock your vehicle. Do not park near vans, utility vehicles or other large vehicles–particularly if the windows have a dark tint or are blocked out completely. Attackers may attempt to pull you into the vehicle.
Walk Like You Own The Place
Put your head up, your shoulders back and walk briskly. Remember, the potential assailant is looking for an easy target. A woman with a no-nonsense attitude and a sense of purpose who looks like they are a handful is less likely to be seen as an easy target.
Be Alert and Observant
Always be aware of your surroundings and remain alert. Avoid approaching groups or individuals hanging out between vehicles or loitering. Avoid anyone who looks suspicious. If you see anyone loitering, the parking lot seems deserted or you feel uncomfortable, return to the store. Don’t be afraid to ask for an escort to your vehicle. The store will be happy to assist.
As you approach your vehicle, ensure no large vehicles have parked near yours since you initially parked your car. Look under your vehicle as you walk to it, and look in the cargo area and backseat before you get in your vehicle. When you are safely in your vehicle, lock your doors and drive away. Don’t spend a great deal of time fussing with things before you drive away. This delay gives a predator a chance to break your window and grab you.
Before You Leave The Store or Vehicle
Be prepared to react to an attack. Be sure you have at least one hand free for defending yourself, if needed. Carry your keys, flashlight or pepper spray in your free hand, and ensure your cell phone is in your pocket and not in your purse. You will be better able to defend yourself and call for help if something should happen.
Do Not Let Strangers Approach You
Do not let a stranger get close enough to grab you. Always be aware of the people around you, and be alert if anyone is approaching you quickly. Be prepared to react to a threat. Try to keep a cart or some other object between yourself and a stranger. If someone requests your help, immediately turn back to the store while stating your going to get some help. Predators often pose as someone needing help. Don’t fall for this ploy.
If The Worst Happens
If someone does try to mug you or grab you…run. Start to yell, scream “fire” and draw as much attention to yourself as possible. If they are after your purse, don’t be afraid to throw it away from you as you turn and run. Everything in your purse can be replaced, but you can’t. Keep yourself safe.
Take control of your personal safety. Be alert to your surroundings and walk with self-confidence. Be sure to keep a safe distance between yourself and strangers. Always be prepared to react.