Did you know that parking lots and garages are the third most common place where crimes occur, with nearly 1,400 violent crimes committed each day? While you are out holiday shopping and enjoying the seasonal activities, here are some useful parking lot and garage safety tips:

  • When returning to your vehicle, be alert to what is going on around you. Don’t be distracted by your cell phone or other digital devices. Always look in and around your car before getting in.
  • Always try to park in well-lit areas with good visibility.
  • Especially important as you are out shopping: Never leave valuables visible in the car. Lock them in the trunk or cover them as a next best alternative.
  • Personal items have your personal information on them so avoid leaving mail, checkbooks, or anything with important or personal information in the car.
  • Avoid bumper stickers that reveal personal information.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable walking to your car alone for any reason, ask security personnel or another person to walk with you.
  • Find the panic button on your car’s remote device and learn how to use it.
  • No property is worth risking your life for, so if a thief approaches, cooperate to avoid injury.
  • Get your keys out before you leave the store and have them in your hand. Fumbling for keys in your pockets, jacket, or purse – no matter how short in time – leaves you unnecessarily vulnerable to attack.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with an alarm system, do not deactivate it until you are within a few feet of it. The noise (and blinking lights) triggered by the car alarm system being deactivated can alert criminals to the fact that a potential victim is in the immediate vicinity. Wait until the last minute to deactivate the alarm, get in, lock the door, and exit the area immediately.
  • Only press the “unlock” button on your keyless entry one time, so only the driver’s door unlocks. If you press it more than once, all of the doors in the vehicle will unlock and someone may use an unlocked door to get in the vehicle with you.
  • Parking areas can be potentially dangerous during nighttime hours as they many times afford cover for criminals who understand the vulnerability of individuals returning to their cars. If there is no attendant, surveil the parking lot area as much as possible upon entry using your headlights. If you observe any suspicious activities or persons in the area, exit the lot immediately.

There will be plenty of folks shopping over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. Parking lots and garages can be areas where one can be vulnerable to criminals so keep an eye out and remember these important tips!