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How safe are you in your favorite store's parking lot?

The end of Daylight Savings brings the "fall back" of clocks by one hour. The day where the setting sun comes sooner also coincides with the launch of the holiday shopping season.

By November, parking lots and structures will be at capacity. An increased number of vehicles equal an increased number of shoppers. Pressed for time during the day, many people who are looking for the best deals are showing up to make purchases later in the evening. That increased foot traffic and low visibility could bring a rise in thefts and physical attacks against unsuspecting victims.

The U.S. Department of Justice reported that parking lots rank third in the most common places where violent attacks are committed. Each day, nearly 1,400 crimes occur in the form of robberies and assaults.

Most shoppers select their parking spot based on proximity to the storefront without first considering their own safety. While business owners should ramp up their security efforts during the higher-volume, holiday season, customers can also take proactive steps to prevent attacks:

Scan the lot or structure upon entering for suspicious people or activity.

  • Default to parking in well-lit spots instead of dark and secluded areas that provide effective hiding spaces for criminals.
  • Consider carrying a small keychain flashlight if the lot or structure is poorly lit
  • Look for security cameras and periodic patrols by officers.
  • After shopping and prior to re-entering the vehicle, make sure that no one is hiding inside or under the car.
  • Do not hesitate in start the engine and leave the lot or structure immediately.

Owners of stores and adjoining parking lots and structures have a responsibility to ensure the safety of vulnerable, unsuspecting customers. Broken lights, defective or no cameras, or negligent security guards provide opportunities for criminals and the potential for serious and fatal injuries to their patrons. When negligent security leads to assaults, it's on store owners to make things right with victims, not ignore their responsibility.

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