Arriving at the lot:
- Park in highly visible, well-lit areas
- Avoid parking near shrubbery or vans with slide-open doors
- In a parking garage, park as close as possible to the elevator
- If you’re unfamiliar with the parking lot, check it out first. If you don’t feel safe, go elsewhere or wait until someone else arrives
- Conceal all valuable items such as cell phones, MP3 players, laptops, portable GPS systems, etc. by locking them in the trunk
- Be cautious of strangers asking questions as you walk to or from your car
- Familiarize yourself with parking lot exits
- Always lock your doors and roll up your windows, even if you are just running in to the store for a minute
- Check to make sure that you have your keys and that your vehicle has signaled that it’s locked
- To remember where you parked your car, note landmarks
- As you walk from or to your car, scan the area for suspicious persons
- If possible, wear sneakers or low-heeled shoes to and from the building so you can run if necessary
Returning to your vehicle:
- Walk confidently and with purpose. If you detect a threat, retreat to the building or store.
- Pay attention to what’s going on around you
- Stay off your cell phone while walking to your vehicle so you can pay attention to the environment
- Have your keys ready before you get into your vehicle. Searching or fumbling for keys is distracting and makes you vulnerable.
- When you enter your vehicle, lock the doors immediately, then turn the engine and headlights on
- Limit the amount of time you spend in an idling car
- If you carry a purse, keep it close to your body so it can’t be grabbed
- Keep your vehicle in good working condition to prevent car trouble
- Keep your vehicle filled with gas
- Carry a portable air horn. It’s far easier to engage than pepper spray and it doesn’t need to point anywhere.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash or unnecessary credit cards
- If you’re being followed, don’t go home, go the police or fire station
Always be aware of your surroundings — that’s your best defense!