Staying Safe at a Mall or Store

Whether you’re a shopaholic or not, malls can be a great place to spend time with your family or friends. And we all frequent the grocery store. But with the ever-rising incidences of thefts, assaults, and criminal activity happening in places like these today, it is important to keep safety top of mind.

scene at a mall department store

Morris, one of our Ambassadors, shares some great advice for staying safe when you're at a mall or store in one of his Mojo Minutes:

 

Here are some more tips to help you stay safe at the mall while enjoying your shopping experience: 

  1. Practice situational awareness
  2. Always have a safety plan
  3. Carefully consider where you park
  4. Shop with friends
  5. Keep your belongings close (and hands free)
  6. Consider personal protection

 

Practice Situational Awareness

If you’ve read our other blogs you’ll see that situational awareness is a common theme throughout. Paying attention and being aware of your surroundings is the best way to avoid (or at least reduce the chances) of finding yourself in an unsafe situation. It is important to pay close attention to where you are and who is around you.

woman texting on phone while in the mall

When entering a store, identify the exits in case you need to leave quickly. Avoid distractions, such as texting on your phone, and have a plan in place the event you find yourself in an active shooter situation. If you feel uncomfortable trust your gut and leave. If you see something suspicious, don’t be afraid to report it to mall security or a police officer.

Always Have a Safety Plan

Adrenaline and fear can make it difficult to make important decisions on the spot. While it is unlikely that you’ll find yourself in a dangerous situation, such as an active shooting, it’s vital to have a safety plan in mind in the event something does happen.

This means knowing where your exits are and where to safely hide should the situation arise. If you’re unfamiliar with the shopping mall, consider consulting a map of the mall before you go. 

mall exit sign

When we asked some of our employees what their safety tip was, Katherine, Digital Growth Strategist, said she keeps in mind that most mall stores have a back area for employees that locks. Many open at the back to the outside, making that a quicker escape that running down the main mall hallway.

Carefully Consider Where You Park

This is a big one when it comes to staying safe at the mall. Parking garages and parking lots are one of the most common places for criminal activity. In fact, 22% of all thefts and just under 10% of all violent crimes occur in parking garages.

woman walking through parking lot alert

Parking garages or lots are also a prime target for criminal activity against women. You can learn more about parking safety in another article from this series, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Park in a well-lit area, preferably close to the mall entrance, the ground floor, or near the walkway where it is likely to be busy.
  • Always lock your doors, even if you are sitting in your car. Before unlocking your doors, make sure to look around.  
  • You’ve probably seen those round mirrors meant to help drivers see around a blind corner. Well, those same mirrors can help you see what is around the corner while you’re walking. 
  • Take a picture of the location you parked to avoid having to spend any unnecessary time walking around. And always keep your keys in your hand so you don’t have to dig them out of your purse.

Shop with Friends

Again, there is safety in numbers. In a group, you are a lot less likely to find yourself the victim of a crime. Criminals are looking for soft and easy targets. If you are shopping alone, make sure someone knows where you are and when you expect to return home. 

two women walking through mall shopping

Keep Your Belongings Close

When you're at a store, it's important to always keep your purse or bag close to you. This will help to deter thieves and pickpockets, who often target unsuspecting shoppers. Thieves are looking for easy targets and a quick get-a-way. It’s much harder to steal your bag or purse if it’s held close to your body.

  • Wear your bag across your body so it is more difficult to snatch
  • Tuck your purse under your arm or hold it close with both hands
  • Keep sight of your purse at all times and never leave it unattended in a shopping cart or on the ground
  • Consider using a smaller bag or purse making it easier to keep close
man with brown leather viktos cross body sling bag

    When talking with our own employees at Premier Body Armor, Sullivan, Social Marketing Specialist, said her biggest tip was to keep her dominant arm free when she is carrying things around the store and to her car.  

    Consider Personal Protection

    While not everyone chooses to carry a concealed weapon, there are a number of different personal protection equipment options that are available. Consider carrying pepper spray in your bag, or a personal alarm, which will alert anyone in the area that you need help. It has also become more and more common for people to wear or carry body armor or bulletproof inserts. 

    Shopping with Young Children

    For many parents, shopping with their children becomes even more challenging. Bathroom breaks, boredom, and constant hunger are no longer top of the list of things to worry about. But how can you keep your kids safe while shopping at the mall? In addition to the above tips:

    1. Avoid going to the mall during peak hours when it is more crowded
    2. Keep your children close to you at all times
    3. Make sure to hold their hand or have them securely belted into a stroller
    4. Teach your children what to do if they get lost
    5. Make sure your children have memorized contact information
    6. Never let your children go to the bathroom alone 
    7. Teach your children about stranger danger

     

    Staying safe at the mall is essential for anyone looking to do some shopping. By educating yourself on the tips to staying safe, you’ll be sure to have a comfortable and enjoyable time while at the mall.

    Check out our complete safety guide to learn more tips for other everyday locations!

     

    Written by Emily Johnson


    1 Response

    Victoria Addington
    Victoria Addington

    November 29, 2023

    Thank you for the reminder to keep your purse or bag close to you when you are in a store. This would help to dissuade robbers and pickpockets, as you stated. I’ll definitely share this with my family to keep in mind since we have been discussing going to a mall to unwind and spend time together. I appreciate you sharing!

    https://www.peninsulatowncenter.com/

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