Parking Tips for Personal Safety

Arete Safety - Monday, April 27, 2015

The time when many people feel most vulnerable is when they are either leaving or returning to a parked car – particularly at night. Depending on its location, design and the time of day, parking lots can present a risk of workplace violence. By using some basic safety strategies you can help minimize risk when traveling to and from your car.


  • Park near your building in a highly visible and well-lit area.
  • Park near the parking attendant, if there is one, or near the stairs or a well-lit exit in an underground lot.
  • When parking, back your vehicle into the parking stall, so that you are facing “out” whenever you enter or exit your vehicle. This increases your visibility of the surrounding area and also allows you to drive away quickly if you are being approached by a stranger.
  • Use the main building entrance -- avoid rear or secluded exits.
  • When walking to and from the car after dark or in a high-risk neighbourhood, always try to walk with a friend, co-worker, or a security officer.
  • Keep your valuables, including purses and recent purchases, out of sight. Always lock them in the trunk if you have to leave them in the car.
  • Lock the doors and roll up windows once you are in the vehicle.
  • If you are worried about becoming a target, vary your routine. Park in different spots, at different times. Avoid a predictable schedule. 
  • Stay on well-lit streets, and in the centre of the sidewalk. Stay away from hiding spots such as bushes, doorways, alleys and parked cars. Cross the road if necessary.
  • Always be alert to your surroundings. Walk with confidence. Keep your head up and look around. Look directly at people but do not stare at them. Trust your intuition when you feel something is not right.
  • If, on the way to your car, you see that another vehicle has been broken into, call the police right away - do not go to your own car. Tell the police where you are and remain in that location until they arrive. 
  • When you are returning to your car, have your keys in your hand – avoid fumbling through your pockets, purse or briefcase.
  • Before getting into your car, check in and around it. Once inside, lock the doors immediately.
  • Know your nearest safe exit route.
  • Report suspicious behaviour to the parking lot attendant, security or the police.


Have a plan ahead of time. Know where you can go for safety and how to call for help.


  • Do not use more than one parking spot as it may anger another person.
  • Do not have a personal identification tag on your key ring. If your keys are lost or stolen, a thief will be able to find your car or house.
  • Do not approach someone if they are loitering near your vehicle. Walk to a safe place such as a lighted store, house or building. Call the police.
  • Do not dig in your purse or bag.
  • Do not wear headphones or be distracted by a cell phone conversation.

Hugh Pelmore is the President and CEO of ARETE safety and protection inc., a Canadian firm that specializes in training and consultation for workplace violence prevention and conflict management. Hugh has facilitated more than 4500 workplace violence prevention and conflict management workshops within virtually every industry sector and is recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts. ARETE clients include the Provincial Government of BC, Saskatchewan Government Insurance,  WorkSafeNB, Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba, the University of British Columbia, BC Hydro, YVR and the City of Vancouver. toll free: 1 877 337-1122

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