A very disturbing case in Boca Raton Florida caused me to think about the safety of women who are walking to their vehicles in parking lots at malls, shopping centers, etc. The Boca Raton, Florida case involves the murders of a mother and child who were abducted as they got into their suv at a shopping mall in broad daylight. The abducted mother was driven to a nearby bank where she was forced to withdraw cash. The mother and daughter were driven back to the same shopping mall where they were shot and killed.
There was a 2nd kidnapping case at the same mall involving another mother and young daughter who were also abducted in broad daylight as they got into their suv. In the 2nd case, the mother and daughter were driven to a nearby bank and forced to withdraw money. They were then driven back to the mall where they were tied up but they were unharmed. Law Enforcement believe the suspect is also responsible for another murder where a female was carjacked and shot and killed. This suspect is still unknown and at large. Further reading on this case can be found here www.mallshop.co.il
The Boca Raton case shows us that women are very vunerable when walking to and from their vehicles in parking lots. Parking lots are ideal for criminals because they can simply walk around as if they were an ordinary law abiding citizen when they are actually looking for a crime victim. Parking lots offer criminals a never ending supply of people to victimize and vehicles to steal or break into.
Women should exercise caution and use common sense when parking their vehicles in parking lots. These tips may seen utterly simple yet most people never think of them. When arriving at a parking lot, try and park as close to the front of the store/building that you are visiting. Use the main/front entrance of a large shopping mall because it is always busy with people and vehicle traffic. The main entrance is most always under video surveillance and criminals often know this. A criminal lurking around a mall parking lot would most likely target a victim who parked in a remote or less crowded section.
Don’t park in parking garages because they offer criminals a better opportunity to stay concealed and lay in wait for victims. While searching for your “close to the front” parking space, start scanning the parking lot for suspicious looking people. Obviously if the criminal who is casing the parking lot is sitting in a vehicle you may not see him. Many vehicles have dark tint which makes it even harded to ascertain if the car parked next to you is occupied or not. It’s not too hard to pick up on traits that make a person “suspicious” A person slowly walking through the parking lot who is looking around frequently would make me suspicious. A person who is standing in the parking lot doing nothing other than standing around would make me suspicious. A person who is sitting or standing in front of the store by himself watching people would make me suspicious. A car slowly driving around the parking lot numerous times would be suspicious.
As you exit your car and walk towards the mall/store, look around and scan the parking lot which does 2 things. First, your looking around and scanning might alert you to a suspicious person or car. Secondly, if a criminal is in the parking lot looking for a victim, he may see that your are aware of your surroundings and you may not be an easy target. Keep your cell phone in your hand and if someone starts to approach you get on your phone and make a call or pretend to be making a call.
I am a big advocate of women carrying pepper spray and if you carry it, keep it in your hand when you are walking to and from your car. I keep pepper spray in my personal vehicle and I will never hesitate to spray someone who approaches me and makes me fear for my safety. If someone ever approaches you in a parking lot, show them your pepper spray and tell them to stop or you will spray them. I have seen some really big men drop to the ground and scream after they have been sprayed. I have been sprayed accidentally when another officer tried to spray a suspect and it was a miserable experience. Get pepper spray if you don’t already have some.
I am an even bigger advocate of women carrying concealed firearms. The decision to carry a concealed firearm for your safety is a big decision that no one can make for you. Every state has different laws and standards governing private citizens carrying concealed firearms so check with your state website to see how to proceed. Obviously if you have a concealed firearms permit you should carry your firearm in your purse as you walk to and from your vehicle in a parking lot. A purse is the ideal place to carry your firearm because you can quickly and easily reach into your purse to place your hand on your gun if someone suspicious approaches you.
While inside the mall/store, keep an eye out for suspicious acting people who might be looking for a crime victim. That strange guy that keeps popping into every store that you visit is someone to report to mall security. Remember that guy who was loitering in front of the mall or in the parking lot when you arrived? If he is still in the same spot, he is suspicious and should be avoided.
If you see someone suspicious in the parking lot or inside the mall/store, find a security officer and report your concerns. Most major malls have private security and don’t be shy to go to them and have them walk you to your car. If possible, go to the mall/store with another person or a group of people. Criminals like easy targets and several people walking together is not easy when compared to one person walking alone.
The Boca Raton case is horrible and I am confident Law Enforcement will capture this sick individual. Keep these tips in the back of your mind every time you park in a parking lot because they will help keep you safe. Bring up this topic with your family, friends, and co-workers so they can take steps that will make them safer.
Author is a current Police Officer with 19 years of experience & webmaster – [http://www.personalsafetyheadquarters.com] – a blog with articles and information on how to keep you and your family safe.