Parking garages can be hotspots for criminal activity, making it important to know how to stay safe when using one. Vandalism, robbery, car theft, and assaults are unfortunately common in parking garages. In fact, 1 in 10 property crimes and 7.3% of violent crimes occur in parking areas – a statistic particularly worrisome for women.
Morris, one of our Ambassadors, shares some great advice for staying safe when you're at a parking garage in one of his Mojo Minutes:
Here are a few more things you can do to help keep you safe in a parking garage. Keep in mind, many of these are great tips for parking lots as well.
The first step to staying safe in a parking garage is finding a secure parking spot. Look for a well-lit spot near the entrance, exit, or where there is likely to be a lot of foot traffic. Avoid secluded corners and narrow spaces where it's difficult to maneuver your vehicle. Criminals want to stay hidden.
Instead, opt for wider spots near exits or stairwells that offer quick access to an escape route if needed. Try to avoid parking next to vans and other large vehicles where criminals can hide.
Staying alert is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your safety in a parking garage. Criminals often lurk around parking garages looking for easy targets, so it's crucial that you remain vigilant at all times. One effective way to stay alert is by keeping your head up and being aware of your surroundings.
Avoid distractions such as texting or talking on the phone, which can make you an easy target. Do not sit in your vehicle for long periods of time as you scroll through Instagram posts or the latest news headlines. It's also essential to trust your instincts when it comes to staying safe in a parking garage. If something doesn't feel right, don't ignore it - move quickly towards more populated areas or seek help immediately.
Many vehicles these days automatically lock the doors when you reach a certain speed. This is an important safety feature for many reasons. Before unlocking your car door, make sure to scan the area around you. Take note of anyone lurking around. If something seems off, keep your doors locked and find somewhere else to park.
If you feel safe leaving your car, take another moment to scan the surrounding area. Identify exit signs and plan your route to the elevator, stairs, entrance, or exit. This will not only limit the time you spend walking through the parking garage, but it will also help you walk with confidence, which often deters criminals.
We’ve touched on it before, but trusting your gut is such an important part of personal safety, it deserves its own section. Your intuition can pick up on subtle cues that may not be immediately obvious to your conscious mind. If something doesn't feel right, don't ignore it – take action to protect yourself.
One way to develop your intuition is through practice. Pay attention to how you feel in different situations and environments and make note of any patterns or trends. This will help you recognize when something feels off or out of place.
Walking with confidence is a crucial aspect of staying safe in a parking garage. Criminals often target individuals who appear vulnerable or unsure of themselves, so walking confidently can be an effective deterrent.
Additionally, when possible, walk in the middle instead of up close to parked cars. This will make it more difficult for anyone hiding between or inside a car to attack you.
You don't want to be fumbling through your bag or pockets trying to find your keys while you're standing alone with your back to an open space. This will also help minimize the time you spend in the garage.
Despite the fact that many key fobs have the ability to lock and unlock your vehicle doors from a distance, NEVER unlock your doors unless you are standing right next to your car and aware of your surroundings. Prematurely doing so can give someone the opportunity to hide in the backseat.
Before getting into your vehicle, look through the windows and make sure there are no unwanted passengers.
Elevators in parking garages are primed for criminal activity. Women are particularly vulnerable to sexual assaults in elevators. Elevators are small, enclosed spaces with limited ability to escape should the need arise.
It’s important to always be wary of strangers in parking garages. If someone approaches you and makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your instincts and do not engage with them. Be especially cautious if someone asks for your personal information or tries to offer unsolicited help. Do not let it distract you.
We asked some of the Premier Body Armor employees what they do to stay safe in parking garages. Sullivan, our Social Marketing Specialist, says she used to constantly hit the lock button on her car remote to find where she parked. Realizing that could help someone target her, she now focuses on remembering where she parked (taking a picture if needed), and on pressing her car panic alarm if she needs to.
By keeping these tips in mind whenever you park in a garage, you can greatly reduce the risks associated with violent crime, theft or other criminal activity - ensuring that both men and women alike stay protected at all times!
Check out our complete safety guide to learn more tips for other everyday locations!
Written by Emily Johnson
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