All shopping centers, regardless of their size, have something in common… a parking lot. This is where you or your family is at greatest risk at the shopping center. Think about this… in a parking lot, everyone is a stranger. A violent criminal can easily fit in with everyone else, unnoticed, and appear as ordinary as anyone else. A criminal predator could walk right past you and you wouldn’t know the difference because it is a ‘public setting’.
Try this out the next time you go somewhere and park in a parking lot. Sit there for a few minutes and watch how easy it would be for a criminal to attack someone. As people walk back and forth from the store / mall / shopping center and their vehicles, notice how they are usually completely consumed by their thoughts, their cell phones, looking down as they walk, thinking about where or what they are going to do next. When they get to their car, only then will they reach for their keys, turn their backs on anyone nearby while they load the car, their kids, while thinking nothing of the ‘stranger’ nearby. Statistically, crimes will occur right then at that point. Typically this will be purse snatching and robbery.
The most important thing to remember in this situation is AWARENESS.
Be alert to others in the parking lot.
Look for any suspicious looking behavior (you’ll know it when you see it).
During the day, park your car away from the hustle and bustle.
At night, park under a light, as close to the entrance as possible.
Do not park next to a van, shrubbery, or the edge of the building.
Observe for a moment before you get out.
Don’t get out of the car if it doesn’t seem to be safe.
When returning to the vehicle, LOOK AROUND.
Have your keys in hand BEFORE you get to the car.
If you notice suspicious loitering around or near your vehicle, walk past and/or return to the store / shopping center.
Don’t electronically unlock your car until you are fairly close to it.
While still at a distance while approaching your vehicle, glance underneath it.
When you reach your vehicle, look inside before getting in.
Trust your instincts.
Train your family.