Friday, September 9, 2016

Parking Lot and Parking Garage Secruity

Parking Lot and Garage Secruity

Parking lots and garages are vulnerable places to be, but we must go to them. They range from spooky caves to well lit, camera laden, patrolled places to leave your vehicle.
Most are not the safest place to be. But if you are smart, you can be safe and secure.

If you have a choice:
Choose well-lit areas near your destination or the elevators
Don’t go to that destination alone
Do your business/shopping in the day time
Don’t go to sketchy stores that allow people to sleep overnight in their cars in the parking lot since this is an obvious area where many transients will be. An example: Walmart.

Park closest to the store since video cameras will record you and criminals know this. There is a lot of foot traffic with others around as well. In a parking garage, park as close to the elevators as you can.
Always keep your doors locked when driving and when you are parked until you are ready to get out. Many later model vehicles have this as a programmable option.
Assess your environment before you exit the car and remind yourself to have situational awareness on your mind. Have your purse or belongings in your hand with keys ready to lock the door. Don’t be fumbling around in your car looking for things.
Lock your door immediately after exiting your car and have your head up, scanning your environment. Question everything with “does that look normal?” Don’t walk too close to parked cars because this is a perfect spot for an attacker to hide. Distance is your friend.
When walking back to your car look ahead and make sure no one is just hanging out by your car. If there is someone, go back into the store and get an escort to walk you to your car. Remember, when there is two or more people you are less of a target.

Don’t be an easy target for a predator. The following examples are what predators look for:

Someone looking friendly, timid, lost, absent-minded, distracted or intoxicated, more easily manipulated
Someone wearing earphones or distracted with a phone. Unaware of surroundings.
Someone unaware he or she is being followed until he or she is isolated and face-to-face.
Someone parking close to trucks or vans that prevent witnesses from seeing you – predators seek that kind of cover.
Someone preoccupied by having both arms loaded with packages or a child.
Also, beware of Good Samaritans. Let’s be real here. No one has the time to hang out and just help people in parking lots

ALWAYS keep scanning 360 degrees around you when loading your groceries or children in the car.
If a stranger is coming at you and at a distance where you feel threatened, put both hands out in front of you because it’s the universal sign for STOP and there’s no translation necessary. An appropriate response if they question you would be “I’m sorry sir, I can’t help you!”, even before they finish their question. It’s polite, strong, and responds to about every question they could ask you. Give your “command response” while creating distance from this person (remember, distance and time are your friends). Try and keep a car, a door, a pole, anything between you and whoever is approaching. Your response and body language to move signals that you are aware and you are a fighter. Remember, predators want a weak and easy target. Lastly, do not worry about offending the feelings of a stranger.
Have your self-defense “tools” ready and not at the bottom of your purse or pocket or worse in the vehicle. Remember to practice with whatever “tool” you have and know it well and be competent with it.
To protect yourself or your family in this setting the best defense is awareness. Awareness will allow you to anticipate the potential danger and plan ahead for the next time you go to a parking lot. Families should be trained to look around their vehicle before approaching and retreat if anyone suspicious is loitering in the area. They should be trained to return quickly to the shopping center and alert mall security or call the police. This all becomes second nature after a while. A little awareness (educated-paranoia) is healthy and can keep your family safe.
You are most vulnerable when entering and exiting your vehicle. If it feels wrong leave. If it looks suspicious leave. Keep your head on a swivel. Don’t get distracted by where you’re going or what’s in your car, keep an eye out.
As we move into the holiday season remember the importance of locking your car, hiding your purchases, and taking extra care of your situational awareness. As we move into Halloween, Thanksgiving, and finally Christmas sometimes our minds are on other things. We must be vigilant.
Semper Paratus
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