This is a true story that happened last week. This post is not to scare anyone, but to provide you with safety tips to help prevent your family and others from becoming victims. Please share it with others.
Last week a former co-worker of mine was exiting a large grocery store after doing her shopping and noticed a lady standing in the empty stall next to her vehicle.
She thought, “maybe she’s just saving a spot for someone who is coming” but it made her a little uneasy the way the lady was acting. After unloading her groceries into her car trunk and returning the cart to the return stall she got in her car. Because she felt a little uneasy, she immediately locked her car doors which was not typical for her. As she then started her car, this lady standing outside tapped on her driver’s window. She cautiously rolled down her window only an inch or two because of how she felt, and the lady asked her a question.
While she was distracted looking to her left, two men on the other side of her vehicle suddenly tried opening the front and rear passenger side doors to enter the vehicle. The lady outside the driver’s door was a distraction, and also part of the team to prevent the driver from fleeing the vehicle out that door when the two men on the other side entered.
Thankfully her car doors were locked and when they realized it they immediately ran. If they had succeeded, she might be a missing person right now. She called the police but was unable to give much of a description of any of the individuals because they were all masked up and the two men were wearing hoodies to further conceal themselves.
Thankfully a safe but scary ending to her story.
My father worked in the physical security and investigation business and often helped the police and FBI with certain issues because he had better equipment than they did. All growing up he drilled certain things into our family about being safe. This was one of the scenarios he specifically taught us about because he was aware of numerous types of instances where crimes like this occurred.
He said, when approaching your vehicle, watch for someone loitering near it. If you see someone doing that, it’s not normal behavior in a parking lot. Immediately return to the store and ask a store employee to come out with you as an escort to your vehicle to ensure your safety.
My dad said just like we’ve all seen in movies, people have been known to wait in a parked vehicle such as a windowless van, waiting for a person to arrive and get in their vehicle next to theirs. They then throw open their door, push the person in, and take control of the individual and vehicle.
Another scenario is someone hiding under a vehicle, sometimes with a knife to slash a person’s Achilles’ tendon to render them unable to flee.
Another was someone entering an unlocked vehicle or breaking into a locked vehicle and concealing themselves in the back seat waiting for someone to enter.
When we exit a store we are often relaxed and not on guard. It’s best to be on heightened awareness approaching your vehicle and make a quick scan of it, glancing under and in the rear seats to make sure everything looks normal. No need to be paranoid, just cautious. If you are uncomfortable about the situation, return to the store and ask for help, or in some situations, call the police, describe your situation and unease, and ask if they could send someone over to assist.
Then when entering the vehicle, your first step is always to immediately lock the doors. Make this a habit. Then start the car and put it into gear before putting on your seat belt in case you have to drive off fast. After that, while your foot is on the brake, put your seat belt on, or even while you are starting to drive.
Bad people are everywhere, even in relatively “safe” areas. Your first defense is raising your awareness and thinking through what to do in these scenarios.
(Image by rh2010 @ 123rf.com)