Offensive Parking

Stopping bad parking one schmuck at a time

06 2009

How to Stay Safe in a Parking Garage

Many assaults are committed in parking garages because they are often dimly lit, poorly observed and provide countless places to hide. You can protect yourself in these situations with a little planning and common sense.  Here are some simple tips.  

  1. When you are bogged down with luggage or bags, you make a good target because you do not have any free hands.  It is generally better to make two trips than to be loaded down.  You could opt to pack everything in a rolling suitcase or shoulder-strap bag, including your briefcase and laptop.  If you have cash or expensive jewelry, do not put these in your purse, which is the easiest to steal.  Instead, hide them on your person or in your biggest piece of luggage.
  2. Keep a hands-free cell phone close so you can get to it quickly. Program 911 on speed dial and a contact number under the letters ICE (In Case of Emergency). Law enforcement officials are trained to look for ICE numbers.  Program your work number in a way that can be easily identified but do not identify your home number.  Anyone who sees your home number can go online and get your address with a reverse phone-directory search.
  3. Carry an air horn in your hand or hooked on a belt loop—not in a pocket or purse because you will not be able to get it out in time if it is needed. Air horns make an ear-splitting noise, and are not bulky or expensive. A whistle, as suggested by some, is not the best idea since you may not be able to get it into your mouth quickly.
  4. If you are traveling alone, call ahead to the hotel.  If valet parking is available, budget it in. If this is not an option, ask for an escort from the parking garage to the check-in desk. If they balk, tell them that you or a friend was mugged or assaulted in a place just like this. Remember, they are being paid to protect you. If they say that no security personnel are available, request a man—anyone—to escort you. Most places will comply with that if you give them a reason for your request.
  5. Always be aware of your surroundings.  Park in a well-lit space closest to your point of entry. Do not park in a crammed space next to a wall which leaves no clear exit. Try to park near other people as there is safety in numbers.
  6. Note your exact location and avoid wandering around when it is time to leave (see How to Find Your Car in a Parking Lot). Look around the area while driving, parking and before leaving your car.
  7. Make sure you can see, hear, run and scream. Avoid engaging in distracting activities while walking (eating as you walk, having music plugged into your ears, talking on a cell phone). Do not wear anything that someone could hold you with, and try to wear shoes that will let you run if possible. Tuck scarves, long beads, necklaces, long hair, braids and even purses if possible inside your clothing until you are inside.
  8. Avoid looking like a potential victim. Walk with your head up and shoulders squared, like you belong there are and are well aware of your surroundings. Look around occasionally as you walk, but do not overdo it or you may look scared. People who act scared are easy targets.

With a little planning and a lot of awareness, you can do a lot toward keeping yourself safe.
Additional Safety Tips

  1. People have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, making lists, etc.).  This is not a good idea.  A predator could be watching you and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head and tell you where to go.  As soon as you get into the car, lock the doors and leave.  If someone is in the car with a gun to your head, do not drive off.  Instead, gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car.  The air bag should save you.  If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it.  As soon as the car crashes, bail out and run.  Having a wrecked car is better than having someone find your body in a remote location. It is also likely to draw the attention of other people in the area.  Even if the bystanders do not come to your aid, an attacker will most likely leave because of the increased attention.  
  2. When getting into your car in a parking lot or parking garage, be aware.  Look around you when approaching your vehicle.  Always be sure to check your passenger side floor and back seat (including the floor) before getting in your vehicle.  Attackers will sometimes hide in the shadows of your car.
  3. If you are parked to the right of a big van or other large vehicle, enter your car from the opposite side of your car (e,g. the passenger door if your driver’s side door is adjacent to the van).  Many attackers will pull their victims into their vans while they are trying to get into their cars.
  4. Look at the cars parked on either side of your vehicle.  If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall or your office building and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.
  5. The elbow is the strongest point on your body.  If you are close enough to use it, do!
  6. If a robber asks for your wallet or purse, do not hand it to him.  Toss it away from you and run in the opposite direction.  Chances are, he is more interested in your wallet or purse than you and he will go for the wallet or purse.
  7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, always run (preferably in a zig-zag pattern). The predator will only hit you (a moving target) 4 in 100 times, and even then, it most likely will not be a vital organ. 

It is always better to be safe than sorry and better paranoid than dead.

One Response to “How to Stay Safe in a Parking Garage”

  1. Can you change this so it’s not white letters on black background? It’s very hard to read, and leave little lines in the eyes after looking away. Always much better to use a light background with dark letters…just sayin’…Thanks!

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