Parking facilities present inherent security challenges as they frequently occupy a large space with low levels of activity and numerous hiding places for would-be attackers. While parking facility owners are required by law to protect patrons from any foreseeable harm, Montgomery Chief of Police and former Secret Service agent, Jim Napolitano, urges patrons to take security precautions of their own.
KPRC Channel 2 asked Chief Napolitano to safely navigate patrons through a few common parking facility scenarios:
Scenario 1: Someone tries to snatch your purse while you’re walking to your car
“Check for hiding spots where predators could lurk and walk in the center aisle of the lot.” Remember your safety is more important than your bag.
Scenario 2: An encounter with a stranger in a parking garage
“He’ll act like he’s not paying attention to you, but you know he’s following you….The best thing to do is obviously assess the situation, get away from them as quickly as possible, get some distance between you (and) go back into the building where you came from, not past him. If you have to go out of the garage and all the way around, do it as quickly and as fast as you can.”
Scenario 3: Targeting shoppers as they load groceries into their cars
“You want to take your purse or your bag. Then, once it’s secured on your shoulder, you pick up your child, and take them to the (vehicle), not worrying about your groceries. Secure your child and bag in your car. Last thing you get is your groceries.”
Chief Napolitano’s Top 4 Safety Tips for Parking Lot Safety:
- Check your surroundings.
- Keep a safe distance between you and strangers.
- Create a path for movement.
- If it doesn’t feel safe, go back inside. Don’t go to your car.
Victims of Parking Facility Violence: Know Your Rights
Parking lot and parking garage patrons have a right to feel safe and secure while on the premises of the establishment they are visiting. By law, property owners are required to protect all patrons legally on the premises from any foreseeable harm. For example, should a parking facility owner have knowledge of prior violence on or near property, they have a responsibility to implement additional security precautions to protect patrons and deter such crime. Should a parking facility owner fail in this critical responsibility, they may be held civilly liable for any injuries or wrongful deaths which occur as a consequence.
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