I’ve put together a list of personal security tips geared towards those who go out shopping. Actually this list was assembled awhile ago and I’ve given it a refresh (with more bonus tips and 3 personal real world examples).
The fact is that trouble lurks just beneath the surface where criminals are looking for victims to prey upon. You may not see it, but it’s there.
Here’s a bonus tip right away:
LOOK for it (potential trouble out at the peripheries)!
Note: This list is especially important for women. Why? Because generally speaking women may be more vulnerable in a physical aspect compared with most men. It’s just the way it is. That said, men exhibiting a complete lack of situational awareness combined with an appearance of vulnerability are just as much at risk to becoming a victim. So pay attention to these personal security tips:
Personal Security Tips while Shopping
1. Go with a companion (3 is even better).
2. During daytime, park a bit away from the congested area of cars. This provides more visibility for you to assess the comings and goings.
3. During the night, park up close to the entrance, under or near a light.
4. Make a conscious effort to keep your head out of your phone!
5. Don’t stare straight ahead while you walk.
6. Don’t just look downward at your foot path in front of you while you walk.
7. Casually look around while you walk!
8. Don’t slouch. Keep your shoulders back and chin up. Look confident! Be aware of your body language.
9. Look further ahead than just your immediate path to observe what’s going on up there…
10. Change your course if it doesn’t ‘feel right’ ahead.
11. If a stranger approaches you with a question, it may be someone up to ‘no good’. Keep walking and avoid engagement. You may be being ‘sized up’.
12. Especially for the ladies, don’t worry about hurting some stranger’s feelings – being too polite can make you a victim.
13. Choose the safest time of day for your outing. Some places are pretty safe during the day, but are entirely different at night.
14. When exiting the store, predators are ‘interviewing you’ for vulnerability clues, so demonstrate your situational awareness.
15. While going back to your car, look around and trust your gut, your senses. Go back inside if something doesn’t feel right.
16. Get your keys out before leaving the store. Keep your keys in hand while going to your car.
17. Do not remotely unlock your car until you’re right there.
18. Look through the window into the backseat before opening a car door.
19. Be quick while placing your bags into the car.
20. Don’t get on the phone after you get in the car.
21. Get in the car, lock the doors, and go.
Bonus Personal Security Tips:
– Remember where you parked your car! You don’t want to be wandering between rows looking…
– When leaning over and strapping your child into a car seat, look around – be aware.
– Ladies, when you finish shopping, unlock your car and put your purse in FIRST. While you are loading bags into your car with your back turned, someone can grab your purse out of the cart.
– Note that Elderly people are viewed as easier targets. So pay extra attention to your situational awareness.
– Consider not carrying a purse (e.g. purse snatchers). Instead keep your license, cards, in your pocket.
– If you do carry a purse, consider cross-body carry.
– Where legal to do so, carry a handgun.
When seconds count, Police are just minutes away.
– If you carry a defensive ‘tool’, be sure to regularly practice with it.
Real World Example – 1
From a reader on Modern Survival Blog:
“While going to your car, look around and trust your senses. Go back if it feels safer.”
I can attest to this tactic. Several years ago, I had just exited my eye doctor’s office. It is located in a long, rambling strip mall.
After I exited, my peripheral vision noticed a young punk on my right, leaning against the wall. He was loitering — there was no store, no phone booth, nothing.
A few steps further and I could tell that he had left his position. He was either following me or he coincidentally began to walk “somewhere” just after I left the doctor’s. No matter, he had put himself too close in my ‘space’.
I saw that my truck was about 30 feet away, parked next to a woman who was on her cell phone, oblivious. I decided that I would make a very deliberate u-turn and walk back very deliberately to the doctor’s office. At that time I was just into the parking area but I was clearly visible to anyone on the mall’s walkways.
I did not make eye contact with that guy. I focused on the door of the doctor’s office. I was not rattled, but determined. There was no way this punk was going to get anywhere with me. And there was no way that I would show any ’emotion’ at all.
The punk slowed his pace a bit and as I went back into the office, the gal looked at me quizzically. I told her what transpired and said I was staying there until the punk was elsewhere. He kept walking and crossed the 4-lane road (considered jaywalking in that area). His only destination was the smaller strip mall across the way.
To this day, I believe he was going to either jump me or take my purse.
Real World Example – 2
From a reader on Modern Survival Blog:
I was headed into a large retail store.
As I exited my car about 100 feet from the stores entrance I noticed a young man just hanging out about 20 feet from the entrance of the store. It appeared to me like he was sizing up everyone coming and going from the store.
Now I had recently sprained my ankle a few days before and had been walking with a limp (favoring my sore ankle), but I knew that this could make me a target. So when I exited my car, I briskly walked to the store with as much speed as I could muster without limping.
I had remembered reading somewhere that most muggers are looking for someone with a weakness and that you should always act strong and healthy so that they will target someone less likely to be able to fight back. He studied me for all of about 3 to 5 seconds and then turned and walked away a few feet.
The next day I had read that there was yet another purse snatching in that particular lot on the day I had been there. They had been happening off and on for a few months, so I was aware of the possibilities. Also my ankle had swollen up that night because of my walking but at least I didn’t become a victim.
Real World Example – 3
From a reader on Modern Survival Blog:
Something that happened to me years ago. It was dark but not late (winter time change) and we (my son and I) were exiting a very crowded grocery store in the large city where we still live (1,000,000 plus population).
My car was parked out a fair distance away. I do not like anyone parking around me. As I pushed the cart full of groceries out to my car, I became aware of a loud muffler on a car that never drove past me.
I became quickly aware that this car seemed to be following me. As my son and I got farther out in the parking lot, this car with the muffler was still behind me. I could smell their exhaust from the bad muffler on their car.
They were close. I didn’t know what to do. No training on this type of thing, but Mother Bear kicked right in. I told my son (age 3 – 4ish) as we walked out, I said mommy is going to unlock the car and you jump in and lock yourself in the car seat and lock the car door.
We got to the car, the losers (3 were in the car) pulled right up beside me — inches from my car.
I turned around, looked at them like the crazy mother I was/am, and asked them what the f#@$ do you want! My son was in the car and the car was locked, I was outside of the car with my cart full of groceries.
They surveyed my shopping cart, realized that they could not locate a purse and I stood my ground, never looking away from them and they took off. I watched them go, unlocked my car, loaded groceries and got home.
I learned long ago not to carry a purse or any sign of a wallet in any store. And what those losers didn’t realize was I had slipped my license and debit card in one of the shopping bags discreetly as they were being bagged up. Even I didn’t know which sack it was in, but I knew I would find it unloading groceries. I thought they were after my precious little one, not my money. Such scum.
I rarely carry a purse now and still use that practice of putting license and debit card in something other than the obvious.