Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

How you can avoid being attacked while walking to your car

When you step out to your car at night in a dark parking lot, you could put yourself at risk of being attacked. A lot of violent attacks are crimes of opportunity -- so the best way to protect yourself is to be aware of the potential for a mugging, carjacking or assault and take specific precautions.

Whenever possible, you should walk to your car in pairs. This may mean that you need to wait a few minutes for someone to be available, so give yourself plenty of time. There truly is power in numbers. Criminals look for vulnerable targets. If you're accompanied by someone else, a criminal may decide not to risk approaching you.

If you must walk to your car alone, then you should scan the area before you step outside. If you notice someone lurking about the parking lot of the building where you are, ask for a security guard to escort you to your vehicle. If no security guard is available, call the New Haven police to ask for an escort to your vehicle.

As you approach your car, check to see if anyone is lurking near it or hiding behind it. If you notice a flat tire, consider that a potential sign that you are being targeted for an attack.

Always have your keys ready in your hand when you approach your car. Continue scanning the area around your vehicle as get in. Before you enter your car, quickly check to make sure that no one is hiding in the backseat somehow.

Once you get in your vehicle, you should shut and lock your doors right away. Then, start your engine. Worry about arranging items in your vehicle and putting your seatbelt on after the door is locked and the car is running. That way, you can make a quick escape if you feel threatened.

Sometimes criminals target specific parking lots because they know that the lighting is bad and the security is nonexistent. In those situations, the victims of violent assaults may have a cause of action against the property owner -- especially if there were prior indicators that the parking lot was unsafe for visitors. Premises liability laws put the responsibility for securing a dangerous area on the shoulders of property owners -- not visitors and guests.

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