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The dangers of parking lots during the holiday season

At this time of year, it is easy to get distracted. Aside from your usual responsibilities, you probably have guests arriving, food to prepare and lots of shopping to do. Like many people, you may feel as if you are constantly in a hurry. At times like this, it's easy to let your guard down.

You know you've done it: raced through a dark parking lot with shopping bags on your arm, your phone at your ear, while you dig through your purse for your car keys. This is just the scenario for which a predator is looking.

You may not realize how vulnerable you are

Parking lots are prime hunting grounds for predators. In addition to vandalism and robbery, people often find themselves victims of assault or rape in parking lots. Cars parked in rows provide perfect hiding places. People returning to their cars are often distracted, and when they open the car door, they provide an ideal way for the perpetrator to escape.

There are certain behaviors for which a predator is looking. If you do any of these things, you may be more susceptible to attack:

  • You look lost or in need of help
  • You seem intoxicated
  • You are talking on your cell phone or wearing earphones
  • You seem unaware of your surroundings or that someone is following you
  • You park in an area that is isolated or provides protection from witnesses
  • Your arms are full with packages or a child

A good way to get to your car safely - especially if you have a load to carry - is to ask a security guard to walk with you. If there is no security guard, that business may be opening itself to a lawsuit in the event that a predator assaults someone in the parking lot.

Tips for safely navigating parking areas

Sometimes your own defense system can be enough to deter a would-be attacker. Personal safety experts recommend the following guidelines:

  • Stay alert. Constantly look in all directions around you.
  • Carry a personal alarm or use your car's panic button. Keep it visible so a perpetrator is aware that you are on the defensive.
  • Keep your car doors locked, and re-lock them as soon as you get into the vehicle.

Don't linger in a parking lot. Even when you're in your car, you may not be safe. Keep your windows up and drive away as quickly as possible. You can check your phone or change the radio dial when you're in a safer area.

The responsibility is not entirely yours

You may do all of these things and still become the victim of a crime if the owner of the parking lot has not provided adequate security. Dark, unattended lots are enticing to criminals. A lot or garage with no security cameras or guards on duty means a predator can carry out an attack without fear of being seen or recorded.

Owners and managers of parking lots are expected to provide reasonable security for those who use their facilities. If someone assaulted you in a parking lot because the security was lax, you may have cause for legal action. An attorney with experience in premises liability will passionately fight for your right to compensation.

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