A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keven Moore: There risks associated with parking in a parking garage or parking lot — be prepared

When we think of car safety, often we think of advanced safety features, defensive driving and
distracted driving these days. However, it is important to also consider your safety when entering and
leaving your vehicle in a parking lot of parking garage.

Parking lots are places where some of us feel safe, especially during daylight hours as they are an
essential part of our daily lives, whether we are running errands or going to work. However, many of us
do not realize the potential dangers that come with parking lots. Parking lots are often congested,
poorly lit, and crowded, making them a breeding ground for accidents and crimes.

Parking lots can be a hotbed of violent crime, including robbery, assault, and even murder. Simply by
their location and design, parking lots attract undesirables and promote criminal activity. Of those
crimes, 16 % were violent crimes and assaults. According to FBI data parking garages and lots are the
third most common location of violent crimes in the United States.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@higusa.com

Many parking lots and garages have layouts that provide the opportunity for criminality, including dark
stairwells, high walls, structural columns, and multiple levels, providing hiding places and poor sightlines
that attract criminal activity.

According to Lock-Guard.com they are the third most common place where crimes occur, with nearly 1,400 violent crimes committed each day. . Criminals like to target individuals who are alone,
distracted, or carrying valuable items such as cash, jewelry, or electronics.

The statistics around parking lot crime paint a worrying picture:

• More than 1 in 10 property crimes occurred in parking lots or garages
• 2 million crimes occur in parking lots every year
• $6B in property loss is associated with these crimes
• 7.3 % of all violent crimes occur in parking facilities.

Robbery is one of the most common types of violent crime in parking lots. Thieves often target
individuals who are alone and carrying valuables such as cash, jewelry, or electronics. They may use
force or threaten violence to steal these items.

Assault is another type of violent crime that occurs in parking lots. This can include physical attacks such
as punching, kicking, or choking. Assault can also involve the use of weapons such as knives or guns.
Murder is the most extreme form of violent crime that can occur in parking lots. It is rare but can
happen when a criminal is intent on causing harm to their victim.

There are several reasons why parking lots are a prime location for violent crime. One reason is that
they are often isolated and poorly lit, making it easier for criminals to hide and attack their victims.
Parking lots are also often located in areas where there is a high crime rate, such as in urban areas or
near major highways.

Another reason why parking lots are a prime location for violent crime is that they are often crowded,
making it easier for criminals to blend in with the crowd and avoid detection. This is especially true
during busy shopping periods, such as the holiday season, when parking lots are packed with shoppers
and their cars.

Finally, many people are distracted or unaware of their surroundings when they are in a parking lot.
They may be on their phone or thinking about their next errand, which can make them an easy target
for criminals.

Here are some steps that you can take to protect yourself:

• Choose a well-lit parking spot: When parking your vehicle, choose a spot that is well-lit and in a
visible area. Avoid parking in dark, isolated areas where criminals may be hiding. If possible, park
near the entrance or exit of the parking lot. If possible, park near a security camera or in an area
where there are other people around. This can deter criminals from targeting you.

• Always be aware of your surroundings. This means keeping your head up and scanning your
surroundings for any potential threats. Avoid using your phone or other distractions that can
take your attention away from your surroundings. Look around for any suspicious people or
activities. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, go back to the store or building and ask for

• Avoid parking in isolated areas. If you must park in a less crowded area, try to park near the
entrance or exit of the parking lot. This can make it easier for you to leave quickly if you feel

• Carry a personal alarm or pepper spray. These items can help you defend yourself in case of an

• There is safety in numbers, so if possible travel with a co-worker, security guard or others that
you trust to escort you to your vehicle if you have an opportunity.

• Walk confidently: Walk confidently and purposefully when in a parking lot. This will make you
less of a target for criminals who are looking for someone who appears vulnerable or distracted.

• Lock your vehicle as soon as you enter your vehicles, and when away from your vehicle, always
lock your car and roll up the windows. Avoid leaving any valuables visible inside the car, and if
possible, park in well-lit areas or near security cameras. This can prevent thieves from stealing
items from your car and can also prevent them from using your car as a weapon.

• Always trust your instincts

Violent crime in parking lots is a serious issue that affects many people. However, by taking the
necessary precautions, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Always be aware of your
surroundings, park in well-lit areas, and avoid parking in isolated areas. Carry a personal alarm or pepper
spray for added protection, and always lock your car and roll up the windows. By taking these steps, you
can stay safe and protect yourself from violent crime in parking lots.

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