Quite a few assaults and other crimes have been committed while individuals are getting in or out of their vehicles. For the criminal, it can be the modern day watering hole. There is a hint of vulnerability when getting in and out of our vehicle, especially if we are trying to put objects in, such as groceries and/or small children. Our attention is focused not on our safety, but on juggling the objects and getting to our keys while trying to open the door and not strike the person's car door next to us. Criminals know that and may look to take advantage of your distraction. As always, having a good game plan and situational awareness can minimize our risk in these types of situations.
If we think like a bad guy, we can predict and defeat criminal opportunity. The parking lot offers many areas where a bad guy can hide and wait for you to come into range to pounce. The many other vehicles provide great concealment for them. When approaching your vehicle, make a point to sweep out away and scan the likely areas where one could be hiding. This may provide you with enough of a reaction time to key on their plan and thwart it. As you are walking, make an effort to look over the entire parking lot. Criminals would much prefer to ambush an individual who has their head pressed to a cell phone or who is watching their feet hit the pavement. If an individual or individuals are hanging around your vehicle and don't seem to be getting in or out of adjacent vehicles, keep your distance and make it obvious you are waiting for them to go about their business.
While approaching your vehicle and performing your scan of the area, have your keys out and ready, taking the extra time to dig for them in your purse or pocket may be the opportunity one needs to launch an attack. Carry the keys in your non-dominant hand, that way if you need to get to a concealed weapon, they keys will not be in the way. As you make it to your vehicle, walk around it a little so that you can see if any one is crouched next to your vehicle. Once at your vehicle, make sure you give a quick check of the back seat. Yes, this is the stuff of movies, but if Hollywood can think of it, so can the bad guys.
Once inside the vehicle, lock the doors and secure your items for the travel. Like the gazelle gazing at its reflection from a waterhole, some people sit in their vehicles with their heads down looking over things like a receipt. This is a great opportunity for the lion to attack. If you think about it, this information is nothing earth shattering, but it can be the difference between being weirded out by a person in a parking lot and being seriously injured in a parking lot. At the end of the day, we have to maximize our potential for success, while minimizing theirs. What steps to you take in parking lots to avoid trouble? Stay Safe!