I gave John a hard time the other day when he tried to remind me to be careful when walking through parking lots when entering or leaving stores. His mistake was not his message but the use of the word elderly in explaining I could easily be targeted.
That one word turned an important reminder into a joke, but he makes a good point. Any of us could be the victim of a thief, purse snatcher or car jacker; but by being aware of our surroundings we may be able to avoid a potential problem.
John often retells the stories of two times that his mother’s quick thinking prevented her from an attack. On one occasion when she realized she was being followed, she called out to a man entering the building (a stranger) asking if he would wait for her. When he turned to respond, the man who had been following her changed his course so a problem was averted.
Another time as she was backing out of a parking space, a man reached in the passenger side window to grab her purse on the seat. Without missing a beat, she pushed the button to roll up the window catching his hand in the door as she hit the gas to get away. Fortunately, she lowered the window enough for the would be thief to escape, but I bet he thought long and hard about targeting a woman in this manner again.
There are many things you can do to reduce your chances of being the target of a thief.
- Before leaving your car, observe your surroundings. Look for anyone loitering nearby who could present a danger.
- Walk purposefully. Don’t text or talk on the phone mindlessly. Look up. Watch where you’re going and make note of where you parked so you’re not wandering in the parking lot looking for your car when you return.
- When returning to your car, again take note of others. If you don’t feel comfortable, take advantage of the offer to accompany you to your car with your groceries. In fact, always let someone carry your groceries after dark or if you are with children. Of course if leaving a store or mall without employee escorts, you can wait for others exiting. There’s safety in numbers.
- At night park as close to the door as possible and in a space that’s well lit.
- Get your key in your hand before leaving the store and be prepared to use it as a weapon if necessary. With keyless entry, you don’t have to worry about fumbling for keys but is there something else you can use to protect yourself or distract an attacker?
You don’t have to be “elderly” to be a victim of crime. Listen to your Dad. Be safe. Take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.