Transitional spaces are areas such as parking lots, gas stations, sidewalks, and even your own driveway. Anywhere that you are moving from one place or structure to another could be considered a transitional space. Unfortunately, criminals like to take advantage of these areas to hunt potential victims. Here are some things you can do to help you stay safe in transitional spaces.
Stay Off Your Cell Phone
Few things are more distracting than cell phones. They cause countless car accidents and are contributing factors to many people falling victim to a crime. When you have your head buried in your cell phone, you have no idea what is going on around you. This is dangerous whether you are driving down the road, at a red light, or walking through a parking lot.
Simply being aware of your surroundings greatly reduces your chances of becoming a victim. If a criminal has a choice between a person with their head buried or one who has their head up looking around, they will almost always pick the person who is lost in their cell phone.
Trust Your Gut
If something doesn’t feel right, there is probably a good reason why. Our minds are very good about picking up on subtle clues within our environment that may indicate danger. Many times we don’t know why we feel nervous, so we ignore it. Countless crime victims have said that before an incident happened, they had a bad feeling about the situation or the person who committed the crime.
The book “The Gift of Fear” does an excellent job explaining why we have gut feelings that something isn’t right as well as why we should heed those warnings. It is a book that every safety-conscious person should have in their library.
Although it is impossible and impractical to do everything that you need to get done during daylight hours, avoiding certain activities at night is a good idea if possible. Doing things like filling up your car, going to the ATM, and buying groceries are much safer during the day.
Parking Lot Safety
Do Not Walk Against Cars in a Parking Lot
When you are going through a parking lot, put some distance between yourself and the parked cars. This will give you a greater line of sight than if you were to crowd yourself against them. Having a greater line of sight will allow you to spot potential threats from further away and give you more time to react to them.
Park Close to the Entrance
The longer it takes you to get back to your vehicle, the more time you have to become a victim, especially at night. Minimize the amount of time you are out in the open by parking as close as you can to an entrance.
Park in Well-Lit Areas
Criminals will use darkness to conceal themselves so they can ambush an unsuspecting victim. Parking in a well-lit area gives them fewer places to hide and helps you see what is going on around you.
Gas Station Safety
Keep Your Vehicle Locked
Protect your valuables and avoid sneaky carjackers by keeping your doors closed and locked while you are pumping gas. This can help you avoid carjackings, robberies, and even kidnappings.
Don’t Box Yourself In
While pumping gas, many people stand in between their car door and the gas pump’s hose. As they are doing this, the car is to their back and the pump is in front of them. In this situation, there is only one way into and one way out of where this person is standing. If a criminal approaches them, they have no escape route.
When I am pumping gas, I like to stand at the back corner of my vehicle. This gives me a wider field of view, allowing me to have more reaction time to a potential threat. It also gives me more ways to escape if necessary.
Choose Well-Lit Pumps
Although it is a good idea to fill up during the day, sometimes that isn’t possible. If you must fill up at night, choose a gas station with well-lit pumps. Use the gas station’s lights as well as those on your vehicle to scan the area around the pump for threats.
Scan the Area
Whether you are using an indoor or outdoor ATM, scan the area as you approach. Pay extra attention to areas with landscaping, trash cans, or other structures that could conceal someone. If you see something suspicious, move on. Even if you need the money right then, it won’t do you any good if it gets stolen 30 seconds after you withdraw it.
Use Indoor ATM’s
If you have a choice between an indoor ATM and one that is outdoors, choose the one that is inside. This is especially true if the ATM is inside of a branch that has employees and other customers inside.
Keep Windows and Doors Locked
If you are using a drive-up ATM, be sure your vehicle doors and windows are closed and locked. Avoid getting out of your vehicle to enter your pin and collect your money. A locked vehicle provides a decent barrier between you and a criminal.
Have Your Card Ready
One of the best ways to avoid becoming a victim at an ATM is to limit the amount of time that you spend at one. Avoid wasting time by fumbling around in your wallet trying to find your debit card. Have it ready to go before you get to the ATM.
Don’t Count Your Money
After you get your money, put it away and leave the ATM. Counting your money is dangerous in two ways. First, it makes you a distracted sitting duck. Second, it gives an observant criminal a better idea of how much money you have just withdrawn. Count your money at home. If there is a discrepancy, contact the bank immediately.
Lock Your Vehicle
When I get into my car the first thing that I do is lock my door. Doing this puts a barrier between myself and anyone that may try to get in my car. Once you lock your vehicle doors, keep them locked until you reach your destination.
Scan the Area
Before you exit your vehicle, look around to make sure there aren’t any potential threats around you. If you are entering your driveway at night, observe as much of your yard as possible. Make sure no one is hiding behind trash cans or behind corners. Use your bright lights to illuminate dark areas.
If you are in public and spot something that seems suspicious, move to a different area. If you are at your home and suspect a problem, call the police. They are better-equipped to handle situations such as this, and it is always good for them to be aware of potential problems in an area.
Open the Garage Door After You Are in Your Vehicle
When you are getting ready to leave, enter your car and lock the vehicle’s doors before opening the garage door. Just be sure to start the car after the garage door goes all the way up, and don’t forget to open the garage door before you back out. That would be expensive and a little embarrassing.
Close Your Garage Door, Then Get Out
Also, avoid exiting your vehicle before you shut your garage door. After you enter your garage, turn off your car, and close the garage door right after. As the garage door is going down, check your mirrors to make sure no one is trying to sneak inside. After the door is all the way down, exit your vehicle. If someone does try to make their way into your garage, your locked vehicle will provide more protection than being outside of your vehicle.
Keep Distance Between Vehicles
When you are in traffic, give yourself some room between you and the vehicle in front of you. This gives you a buffer in case you are rear-ended as well as an escape route if someone tries to carjack you. If you are too close to the vehicle in front of you, there is little you can do to escape. However, if you have enough space to turn your vehicle, you can escape by using an empty lane, the shoulder, or hopping a curb. Messing up your vehicle’s alignment is a far better option than getting robbed or having to defend yourself in court for shooting a carjacker.
Avoid the Center Lane
While driving, avoid getting stuck in the center lane as much as possible. Outer lanes offer better escape opportunities. If you combine avoiding the center lane with a little distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, the chances of you being able to escape a violent encounter are much higher.
These are some of the habits that I have developed to keep myself safe while I am shopping, getting fuel, and traveling. If you practice any good safety habits that I have left out, leave a comment below.