Situational Awareness Tip For Nighttime Parking Lot


Animals (and 2-legged criminals) are creatures of opportunity. They will more than likely attack another if they look or are perceived to be vulnerable.

Criminals will more likely target a person who looks vulnerable. The potential victim might appear to be physically weaker or the victim might be in ‘condition white’ (oblivious) instead of ‘condition yellow’ (attentive to surroundings) and therefore be very easy to catch off guard.

If you practice situational awareness, it will significantly keep you from looking like easy prey or an easy target. Simply by walking with good posture, looking alert, and being confident will thwart nearly any potential criminal (who will move on to easier prey).

That said, here is one simple but very effective tip to deter a criminal while walking in a parking lot at night…

When you’re in a parking lot while walking back to your car at night, not only have your keys out and ready, and not only should you be alert while looking around you, here’s a unique tip that will be a very effective deterrent:

Carry a tactical flashlight and turn it on while walking to your car.

When criminals see a bobbing flashlight working its way through a dark parking lot, they are going to think that it’s coming from a security guard or law enforcement! Because they are who criminals see most often with flashlights!

If you’re walking to your car at night, not only will a flashlight help you to see better in the dark, but ‘the bad guys’, the criminals, are going to think you are a LEO or guard.

A tactical flashlight will also serve the function of blinding the attacker with the beam or even as a weapon if the worst happens (ferociously bonk the attacker with the metal body of the flashlight as if you’re life depended on it).

So, that’s it… simple but effective. For you ladies, you could easily carry a tactical flashlight in your purse and/or possibly on your keychain. For the men, you could carry one by including it in your EDC (every-day-carry) clipped to a pants pocket (for example) or on your keychain if it facilitates that…


  1. As usual Ken, a very thought provoking article. I have carried a tactical flashlight for years. So many people have asked me why? and I simply respond for use in the dark or dark places (like the bottom of my purse) LOL.

    So many people just don’t think about awareness as part of their daily routine. Good article

  2. Ken,
    many people do not realize that their “smart phone” is equipped with a flashlight and can be located on their home page of their phone for the simple press of a button! pretty strong light too, and since already part of standard carry, no added expense.

  3. Yes, a high intensity flashlight IS an excellent idea. However, NRP’s suggestion to carry your keys in between your fingers while it used to be “good”, I’ve seen far too many thugs and thugettes, grab the fist full of keys causing extreme pain to the key holder.(have someone really grab you hard like a thug) and see how it “feels”.

    Pepper spray/OC spray or the triple combination Mace/tear gas/OC spray works far better than a “key fist” does.

    As for chemical sprays choose the STREAM as opposed to fog or foam, it is far more direct and works far better with less blow back on the person deploying the stream of spray.

    A well known supercenter chain sells Blackhawk brand in their sporting goods section for a reasonable price for those so interested.

    Convenience store “sprays” are from China(while cheap)are dubious in their contents and efficacy. I usually tell people your safety is worth MORE than a few bucks of savings, get what law enforcement carries, Sabre, First Defense and other reliable brands like Blackhawk, Ruger, etc.

    Also, it is important to remember that some people under the influence of controlled substances are NOT susceptible to OC spray itself, the are however susceptible to the Mace/Tear Gas combination. Hope this helps, just a few tips I picked up as a 20 year plus law enforcement officer in southern California.

    So grab yourself a good high intensity flashlight, AND some excellent OC/pepper or Mace teargas combo sprays.

  4. Good advise. I would have the keys ready but not in hand. You may need that hand free for something else. Like a Glock. ;)


  5. I like bear spray because it can be sprayed from twenty feet if necessary. If someone attacks me, I’ll empty the entire can on him. First the face and mouth, then sock his crotch then his hands. Repeat until empty. Other than that, if I am in fear for my life, I’ll have to draw and shoot.

    Additionally, I’ve seen active denial devices that use a xenon strobe that fires off rapid pulses of extremely bright light to disorient and blind. At night time, having your night eyes is absolutely key to successfully repelling a would be attacker. However, if I’m approached by a group I will draw and aim. If they kept advancing, I’d be forced to shoot them.

  6. Starting Jan. 1, Texas law permits open carry, until then an attacker will not even get that much warning before he meets his maker.

    1. Open carry only with your overlords’ permission. Texas is not what it’s cracked up to be, or there would be no permits at all, like in liberal Vermont.

  7. Pepper sprays are a good item to carry, but just like a hand gun you must become familiar with it. How long it lasts, how far it sprays, how wide, get the safety cap off, etc. so buy two…one to carry and one to try out.

  8. Don’t hang around for ‘the authorities’, they’re going to try to crucify you anyway. —Catchin’ is before hangin’

  9. Hugh Janus,
    You are right about Texas gun laws as they are now but right in a way that is larger than life. There is an even more fundamental question than just who can carry! So here’s my question (thought). So, when the constitution says that the people have the right to keep and bear arms then what gives any state the power to pass laws that regulate (permit) a persons right to carry arms? Can any one explain how a state can over ride the constitution? I must be missing something.

  10. That’s almost exactly why I went with 9mm and also Glock. Also, building a stockpile of 9mm is a lot more affordable than .45. One thing though about finding ammo off “the fallen”, if you get there before other people do and you find ammo on them, odds are that you’ll also find a weapon capable of firing it regardless of whether yours can use it or not. :)

  11. But the way, I’m not dissing on the 19, far from it. I just personally liked the feel of the 17 in my hand more so than the 19. People always say shoot what you’re comfortable with, and that one is just more comfortable for me. Of course I don’t use it as a CCW weapon either.

  12. Sometimes the old guy makes sense. Kinda of scary I think… :-)
    I still just hope like hell “It” don’t come to the point of needing to even firing one shot in self defense.

  13. Ideas to consider: Upon reaching the lot, be observant of the area between the top of the pavement and the bottom of each vehicle for someone using that vehecle to hide behind. A few sporting goods or police equipment store sell a rechargeable combo flashlight taser. Using the taser end on the attackers neck, groin or center of chest will allow your escape. Please check you local laws to ensure these are legal for use in your area. From a distance these appear to be just a flash light. Ladies have your keys in hand while walking to you vehicle, a key can be used as a weapon if you are attacked by jabbing in the attackers face. Just try not to drop them during the encounter. If a panel van is parked next to your vehicle, get another person to go with you before you attempt to unlock your vehecle. History dictates this is a bad senario for women.

    Stay Safe!!

    1. @ Being Watched; “Please check you local laws to ensure these are legal for use in your area.”

      To be honest, I would not really give a hoot if a woman got a ticket if charged carrying/using a “taser”. I would probably offer to pay the fine if she ZAPED some azzhole trying to “get her” in a parking lot.


      1. to NRP,
        In todays world the criminals seem to have more rights than law abiding citizens!! If a criminal were zapped and suffered a heart attack, would you pay for the lawyer fees for being sued too?? Its called cover your ass!

        Unless you can come up with some constructive ideas on how to prevent crime or how to protect someone from it, stop spitting out words at others expense!

  14. Before leaving the store or mall I pause at the doors and look around to look for things out of place. I also don’t wear girly colors or tight fitting clothes. If thin, wear some plus sized women’s clothes or borrow your man’s coat. Anything to look bigger and bulkier and more threatening. I also wear jackets or coats that cover the bum making them more modest. I don’t wear very long coats and prefer the parka length in black, blue, etc. that are common for both men and women. The girly clothes are for home or in non dangerous situations. A cell phone helps and even pretend to be a crazy momma bear screaming into it at your teens who have not finished their chores. Even yell ‘if you don’t have the house perfect I will kill you’. Of course there doesn’t need to be anyone on the other end of the phone. Sound nuts, frazzled, while being observant. A nasty frown helps. A man was randomly attacking women with a blunt object in broad daylight and I used the cell phone decoy.

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