Our last Pacifiers & Peacemakers video shared some tips for finding a safe parking spot, but the situational awareness doesn’t end there. We need to be just as cautious when returning to our vehicle, especially if we have valuable and/or bulky purchases with us. Parents, especially, know that this can be a vulnerable time, as we balance items and little ones and attempt to get everything and everyone safely into the vehicle.
Just remember that criminals will be looking for an easy target. So be aware, and follow these tips:
- Scan the parking area before leaving the building (and look to see if anyone is around your vehicle).
- Have your keys ready — in hand or in an easily accessible spot.
- Leave the building with others, like a group or a family, if possible.
- Be aware of anyone in the parking lot, and continue to scan all the way to your car.
- Return to the building if anyone looks or acts suspicious or if you feel threatened or unsafe.
- Walk with purpose (confident body language and quick steps).
- Don’t get too close to other vehicles while walking.
- Check under, around and in your vehicle as you approach it.
- Keep your dominant hand free in case you need to access a tool for self-defense (or get to your firearm).
- If someone is following you, do not stop to confront him; yell at him to stay back.
- Teach your family to enter and exit the vehicle quickly and lock all doors.
- Let your family be extra pairs of eyes and ears while scanning the area.
- As soon as you get in the vehicle, lock the doors.
- Notify management or security (or call the police) if there’s anything suspicious.
- Ask someone to escort you to your vehicle if you feel uncomfortable.
- Listen to your instincts.
The key thing to remember here is that this is not paranoia. We are not peering around every corner, suspicious of every person. We are simply watching for cues or clues that something might not be right, and we are doing our best to take away opportunities for criminals to see us as potential targets.
If someone does approach you in a parking lot and is after your money or your belongings, that’s not worth risking your life over. Throw your wallet or your bag in one direction, and run the other way. If, however, a threat is imminent and life-threatening, it is your right to defend yourself and your loved ones with whatever means necessary. So whether you’re finding a place to park your vehicle or you’re returning after a shopping trip, always be alert and be ready. Don’t be a victim.
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