According to the U.S. Department of Justice, parking facilities, lots, and garages are the most common places for violent crimes to occur, due to their isolated nature, poor lighting, and low activity level.
The only other area with a higher crime rate is residential real-estate.
“Even when you're getting out of your vehicle, check the rear-view mirror, check the mirrors and maybe turn around,” said Chris Patten, owner of the Tactical Safety Institute. “Figure out what's behind you prior to leaving that vehicle.”
The Tactical Safety Institute specializes in an array of defense training, including firearms training, pepper-spray instruction, and classes on situational awareness.
Patten, who also teaches the classes, says adapting your mindset to your surroundings while out in public is crucial to staying safe.
Patten recommends parking close to building entrances to avoid being targeted, as well as carrying a can of pepper spray with you in the event you are approached.
“It gives you that distance, typically about six to eight feet,” Patten said. “The last thing I want to do is get up close and personal to somebody, and if I can reach out and touch somebody from a distance with pepper spray, then so be it.”
If victims are forced to get close, Patten said attempting to get out of the situation is a safer alternative than engaging a potential criminal.
“Scream and shout,” Patten said. “If you can, run away. That's always a good option. Go the other way.”