If you have been through any type of self-defense training you have probably heard about the danger of transitional spaces. A transitional space that most of us experience on a daily basis are parking lots, this article will improve your safety in parking lots.
One of the most important preparations is to have your keys out of your purse or pockets in your hand and ready to open the car door. If you have to dig around to find them, you are unable to look around and see that there might be a bad guy “BG” hanging out beside your car or in the car beside yours.
(Bonus Tip: if you have the type of vehicle that unlocks the doors automatically when you walk up, make sure that it is only set to unlock the driver door. If it unlocks all doors, this gives a BG the chance to get into your backseat while you are getting into the front seat.)
Try to park in an area where your vehicle is illuminated. You might also consider carrying a flashlight (no, not just the one on your phone) so you can illuminate the area around your car and door before you get up to it. Always check the backseat of your car as you approach it to ensure no one is hiding there.
Make sure you know where your car is before you walk out of a location. If you are disoriented or lost this creates a perfect opportunity for the BG. He may even come up and get close to you by offering to help you find your vehicle. Also keep your head up. Don’t look at your phone while you are walking. This provides the perfect opportunity to get remarkably close while you are distracted.
Keep an eye on the people and vehicles around you. Does anyone seem to be keeping pace or gaining on you? If so, this would be a good time to switch to another aisle and see where that person goes. If they follow you, this is a red flag that they might not have the best intentions. Always be aware of people waiting in vehicles parked next to or close by your vehicle. BGs often work in teams and may attempt to force you into a vehicle close to yours before anyone else is aware or can respond.
These are examples of best practices you should be doing and paying attention to when you are in a parking lot. If at any point, you see someone that you think might not have the best intentions, it is completely acceptable to turn around and go right back into the store you came from! Ask the manager to walk you to your car. There is absolutely no shame in saying “there is a person outside that just makes me feel uncomfortable, can you please help me get safely to my car?” Trust your instincts, be prepared and stay safe.