Reduce your risk of being attacked in a parking garage by keeping your eyes peeled, ears open, and these simple tips in mind.
- Step 1: The minute you get inside your car, lock it. Then put on your seat belt and leave the lot as soon as possible.
- Step 2: If you see someone shady behind you whom you can't avoid, step aside and let them pass, looking straight ahead. This conveys that you can't be taken by surprise and that you'll recognize their face later if necessary.
- TIP: If you want to carry a personal protection device, a small siren or noisemaker is more effective in scaring off an attacker than pepper spray or mace.
- TIP: Try to park near the door you'll be entering and exiting the garage from.
- Step 3: Don't park next to a van—it's the abductor's vehicle of choice. If one is parked next to you when you return, get in the door furthest from it, even if that means going in the passenger side and clambering over the console.
- TIP: If you are attacked, use your elbows – they're the sharpest part of your body. A man's eyes and groin are his most vulnerable body parts, so go for those if you can.
- FACT: About one out of every 12 rapes happens in a parking garage.
- Step 4: While you're walking to or from your car, walk with purpose. Don't dawdle or look for something inside a handbag or package. Stay off your cell phone. Attacker's look for victims who are distracted; they're easier targets.
- TIP: Keep one hand free. Attackers consider people with both hands occupied easy prey, since it's more difficult to fight back.
- Step 5: Take note of where you park, so you don't have to wander around the parking lot later looking for your car.
- Step 6: Take the elevator instead of the stairs – the majority of parking-garage attacks take place in stairwells. If you're in an elevator and someone comes in who looks suspicious, trust your gut, take the elevator back to street level or a populated floor, and get out.
- Step 7: As you return to your car, get out your car keys before you reach the lot, holding them in your hand with the pointed end facing out. This serves a dual purpose: you won't be fishing through your purse as you walk, and they can also serve as an impromptu weapon.