Have you ever been in a situation where you’re the last one out the door at work when it’s dark out, closed down a mall or store and had to walk by yourself to your car? It’s an unnerving situation no one wants to be in but sometimes we can’t control it. Back in college during summer breaks I worked at a popular department store and sometimes I would be on the closing shift. All employees had to park on the top floor of the attached parking garage which meant we all had to walk further than anyone. Sometimes I wouldn’t be off until as late as 11. Employees would always try to walk together to form a “buddy system” but it didn’t always work out that way. Looking back, I probably wasn’t as smart about that situation as I should have been.
Parking garages are often poorly lit, massive in size and a prime spot for predators to lurk. When you see anyone leaving a store to head to their car, you’ll most likely find people on their phone, texting or talking with bags in their hand. These are all signs of distracted walking which in turn make you an easy target. If you work to follow the tips below you will lower your chances of being a victim.
One of the best tips to staying safe in a parking garage is to BE ALERT. When you leave the safety of a store and make your way to your car, avoid checking or talking on your phone. Keep your head held high, be aware of your surroundings and keep scanning the area around you. A predator will be less likely to target you if you aren’t preoccupied.
Another tip is to BE PREPARED. One of the best things you can keep in your purse, bag, etc. is pepper spray or some other protective product like that. I have what looks like a cat key chain on my set of keys but it’s a protective mechanism because you put your fingers through the “eyes” and it has somewhat sharp edges for the “ears.” So when I walk through a garage alone, I keep my fingers through the keychain and in my hand until I’m in my car safely. Another smart item to have in your purse is a small flashlight, or before you step out of the store, turn on your phone’s flashlight if it has one and its dark out. It’s also a good idea to keep as little cash/money as possible on you and leave any flashy or expensive jewelry behind.
Where you PARK matters. The ideal situation would be to park in a well-lit area, surrounded by plenty of other cars and close to the entrance of the place you’re going. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way but even if you can do just one of those things you are lowering your chance of becoming a victim.
Lastly, always lock your car immediately upon getting inside. Even if you have bags, head straight to the driver’s side, get in your car and immediately lock the door behind you. Then you can adjust, move bags, etc. If you were to wait to get in by loading bags, etc. someone could easily come up behind you without you even hearing or seeing them.