Whether meeting friends downtown or hopping on a plane, chances are you’ll end up storing your vehicle in a parking garage at some point. Unfortunately, statistics from the Bureau of Justice point out that roughly 10% of property crime occurs in these locations. Crime can happen anywhere, but knowing how to stay safe in a parking garage, whether by using a car cover or parking in a well-lit area with surveillance cameras, can give you an edge over criminals and keep you and your property safe.
Why Parking Garage Safety Is Important
Any time there is a high number of vehicles, whether on the road or in a parking garage, the likelihood of personal injury or property damage also increases. Add to that the number of people not observing their surroundings, and you have a perfect recipe for danger.
Parking Garage Injuries
Whether there’s standing water or poorly marked directions, a parking garage is ripe for personal injury and property damage.
- Slips and falls occur for many reasons, one of which is poor lighting. Without proper lighting, it’s easy to step off a curb or walkway by accident. Likewise, the asphalt in a garage can become increasingly slippery when wet. Without proper warnings or signage, individuals of all ages could easily fall and break either a wrist or a hip.
- Pedestrian accidents are common in parking garages because of poor visibility. As a car is backing out of a spot, it is often difficult for an individual to see this. It is also difficult for the driver, especially when sandwiched between two large vehicles. Thankfully, technology in cars, such as parking sensors and rear-view cameras, has helped to improve this spatial awareness.
- Poor signage is a significant cause of injury due to automobile accidents. Without clear directions for traffic to flow, drivers often find themselves headed in the wrong direction and facing down another vehicle. These types of head-on collisions damage the car and cause significant injury to the drivers and passengers.
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Parking Garage Crimes
It’s necessary to look at avoidable injuries that can happen while walking or driving in a parking garage; however, it’s equally important to focus on the types of crimes that could also take place. Hollywood likes to over-hype parking garage crimes with images of espionage, but the most common crimes are ones that can be avoided or at least deterred.
- An intelligent criminal looks for easy targets. Not every thief is out to steal your car; sometimes, they want what is inside it. If you neglect to hide your belongings, such as wallets, phones, or other items of value, you might be inviting criminals to break into your car and take them.
- Some vehicles have more value than others and are, therefore, more attractive to car thieves. When left unattended in a packed parking garage, criminals will take advantage of the opportunity. Unfortunately, they may also take advantage of an unlocked vehicle with easy access.
- As we put more technology in the palm of our hands, we allow our attention to our surroundings to dwindle. However, this makes many individuals a prime target for criminals. Parking garages provide the perfect place to snatch a purse or wallet, and then run and hide.
4 Ways to Stay Safe in a Parking Garage
How is someone supposed to protect not only their belongings but themselves as well when parking and walking through a parking garage? It’s not impossible when you practice situational awareness.
1. Stay Alert
Before you enter the garage, have your keys ready. If you wait to look for your keys, you’ll be caught with your head down. Keeping your head up and your eyes open deters thieves and prevents injury from moving vehicles or slippery areas. Don’t answer that text. While it may seem important at the moment, your safety is worth much more. It can wait till you’re safe inside your vehicle and before you start driving. Put your earphones or earbuds away. If you can’t hear cars coming toward you, you won’t hear if someone is coming up behind, either.
2. Protect Your Belongings
Take anything of value with you when you leave your car in a parking garage. This includes your purse or wallet, phone, and other electronics. However, it also includes documents or mail with your address or personal identifying information because these papers can be used to commit identity theft and fraud. If you can’t take it with you, make sure you hide it well. Anything left in plain sight is an invitation for theft. If it will fit, put it in your glove compartment or under the seat. If not, consider moving the item to the trunk. Other options include draping a blanket or coat over them.
Make sure you lock your doors and take your keys. It never hurts to double back and make sure the doors are locked. Most criminals are looking for an easy target, and an unlocked car is just that. Do not leave spare keys in a wheel well or another concealed area; criminals are aware of common hiding places for keys and will use them to access your car.
3. Look For Lighting
A well-lit parking garage is a perfect way to minimize damage to your vehicle and deter thieves. Most crime takes place under cover of darkness to conceal anyone’s identity. Parking where lighting is best allows CCTV cameras to capture more features. Lighting is the best protection for you and your vehicle. Seeing where you’re stepping or if others are in the garage with you can help you stay safe. You can also carry a flashlight with you for better illumination. The flashlight can also double as a self-defense weapon if you shine it in a criminal’s eyes.
4. Cover Your Car
Your car is an investment that you want to protect, especially when leaving it in a parking garage. Car covers are a great way to not only preserve the exterior of your vehicle but also discourage criminal activity. Because a car cover hides the make and model of your vehicle, criminals have no idea if it’s worth the effort to steal it. Not only that, but the entire car is covered, concealing what might be inside as well. Without knowing if there is anything worth taking, most thieves will walk away.
Protect Your Car When Parking
Although parking garages offer a secure place to store your car, they can present hazards, including collision or theft. Taking minor precautions, from hiding valuables to using a car cover, can protect your investment and prevent you from becoming a victim of a serious crime.
Ft. Image Source: by wuzefe/ Shutterstock.com