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This past holiday season, malls provided one-stop shopping for more than the ordinary patrons. Parking lots become danger zones at holiday time due to thieves, panhandlers, drive-by purse snatchers, car robbers and other such predators. They can always find almost anything they want in the extensive parking lots surrounding the malls.
And yet, there is something about the orderly array of cars and the enticing promise of wonders inside the mall that lulls ordinary folk into a lack of awareness, adding to their vulnerability. Thus, the first step in danger abatement is to take responsibility for your own safety. Instead of going into slow-mode when you turn into a mall parking lot, sharpen your wits and become even more alert to your surroundings.
Even before you choose a mall as your go-to favorite, check out its security program. Does it have foot or motorized patrols in the parking lot? What are their hours? Will the security force provide an escort to your car if you want one? Ask the security department for recommendations on how you can protect yourself and your car at that mall.
Now that we know parking lots become danger zones at holiday time, here are some general suggestions that can help you be safer in mall parking lots today and in coming holiday gift shopping opportunities this year…
Practice smart parking:
Park as close as possible and preferably within view of the door from which you will exit.
Park in a well-lighted area:
Keep in mind that you may arrive in the daylight but emerge after dark. Choose a spot near a lamp standard.
Leave nothing of value visible in your car:
A car phone, a radar detector, loose change, sunglasses – or the dry cleaning you just picked up before stopping by the mall – each on display could invite a broken window.
Avoid parking near vehicles in which someone is sitting:
Blacked-out windows can conceal occupants.
Use basic safety rules and common sense:
Walk with your purse held firmly to your side, opposite traffic flow.
Don’t let strangers approach you in the parking lot:
Common ploys are to play on your sympathies with a sad tale. Report any of this type of activity to the mall security office.
Know exactly where your car is:
Jot down any grid numbers. Always look back at your car as you approach the mall entrance to get a mind picture of where it is.
Before you leave the mall, locate your car keys and carry them in your hand, ready to use:
If you return to put purchases in your car and then go back to shop, don’t forget to lock the packages in the trunk or you can move your car altogether.
Make a scene:
If you think you are being followed, or a suspicious person approaches you, don’t be timid! Make a ruckus. Yell, blow a whistle, honk your horn. If you are wrong, so what? You’ve got a story to tell about yourself at dinner. If you are right, you may have avoided being the subject of a more unpleasant story.
Keep in mind that your best protection is your alert attention:
Lauren Fix is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted automotive expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics, energy and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward.
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