As I was out shopping alone during Black Friday, my mind started wandering back to what I had learned as a justice student in college. With so many more shoppers out during the holiday season, criminal activity in parking lots also increases. After sitting through so many psychology classes focusing on criminal behavior and studying crime statistics for several years, by habit there are a few safety precautions I take when walking though parking lots.
Be aware of your surroundings. With the excitement of sales and twinkling holiday lights, it’s easy to not pay the same attention we normally do while walking from our car to the store. Pay attention to where you park to avoid extra time wandering the parking lot when you are ready to return to your car.
Purses are an easy target in parking lots and I have a few tips to help avoid getting your purse stolen. Oversized purses are easier to grab and should be avoided but if you’re like me, I usually have a large bag hanging off my shoulder. When I’m walking through parking lots I carry my purse with the strap across my body so it can’t be easily pulled away from me. Always keep your purse zipped completely closed to avoid dropping an item or having someone reach in an oversized bag and discreetly removing your wallet. Another thing I do out of habit is walking with my purse on the side away from the traffic aisle.
Avoid shopping alone and after dark. When going out at night, park in well lit areas. If you are shopping alone and park in a dim or far off area, you can always request a mall security guard follow you to your car.
I recently read women with long ponytails are targeted because your hair can be grabbed and pulled. I didn’t fact check that but I will be wearing my hair up when I shop!
My first year of college I was walking with my roommate through a movie theater parking lot when a man ran up to her, grabbed her purse, and ran off. Although I have never personally had my purse stolen, that experience left me always feeling nervous each time I’m in a parking lot. Add that to years of studying disturbed criminals and I am always looking over my shoulder when walking alone.
Do you have any safety precautions you take while shopping during the holiday season?