As daylight continues decreasing this fall, parking facilities will likely become more dangerous. According to the US Department of Justice, parking lots are the third most common place where crimes occur, with nearly 1,400 violent crimes committed each day.
The most frequent crime in parking lots is theft or vandalism, but victims are also vulnerable to more violent crimes such as robbery and assault.
"With the holiday season coming up and more shoppers expected to park in lots later at night, it's important to be aware of the surroundings and choose a safe place to park," said Anndee Soderberg, ADT Marketing Manager of Small Business. "There are many things to look for, especially bright lighting and security cameras."
To help prevent becoming a victim of parking lot crime, these safety tips are suggested:
- Park in well-lit lots or structures with regular security patrols and cameras. Avoid parking in dark, secluded spots or in corners of structures that may provide natural hiding places.
- Avoid parking next to large trucks or vans that have sliding doors that can allow assailants to quickly pull people inside.
- Scan the parking lot for anything or anyone suspicious both as you park your car and when you return. If you see suspicious activity, return immediately to a store or office and call the police.
- Before entering your vehicle, visually scan it to make sure no one is hiding inside or underneath. Consider carrying a small flashlight on your keychain to help you see.
- Once you get in your car, start your engine and leave the parking lot immediately.
- Do not leave valuables in plain sight inside your vehicle. Put items in the trunk or hide them in the car.
- Choose parking spots near security cameras which act as a deterrent. Also look for security cameras in tunnels and near walkways that connect parking lots to buildings.
"Parking facilities are places where people are vulnerable to crime, but by following these tips and remaining vigilant, people can help ensure their safety," Soderberg said.