It’s the holiday season, and it’s gotten here faster than you can say, “Black Friday.”
Shopping malls – and their parking lots – are famous for being places where all types of crimes can occur – everything from auto thefts, to car-jackings, to thefts of shopping bags filled with purchases, to assault and battery. As a Massachusetts larceny crimes lawyer, I’ve seen more than my share of Massachusetts larceny and Massachusetts robbery charges, and I have some tips to help everyone stay safe at the mall when shopping during the Christmas season.
1). Try to park in a well-lit area. Of course, most shoppers compete for parking spaces during the holidays, and feel lucky to find a space anywhere. But try to find a spot near the store entrances, or in a well-traveled area that looks busy with people – and not in a deserted area in the back of the mall, or in the dark. If you think you might forget your location, use your smartphone to take a shot of your car and a landmark that it’s near.
2). Lock your car. It seems so obvious, but many automobile thefts can be avoided by simply making sure you lock your car. And ALWAYS look in the back seat, first: This is where someone would hide if he or she gained entry into your car. It’s a good idea to also look underneath your car before you re-enter it, as thieves and assailants have been known to hide underneath, then roll out suddenly and accost the victim.
3). Also, when heading back to your car – take note if a large van or SUV has parked close to it. Countless people have been attacked in parking lots, while parked next to large vehicles that make it easy for thieves to prey on you, from the side, or from behind. The next thing you know, you could become a victim of a Massachusetts assault and battery.
For the supreme confidence boost that comes from knowing that you can successfully defend yourself, I recommend learning Combat Sambo – a form of Russian martial arts without weapons, which is taught in Needham, Mass., and Newton, Mass., by Grand Master Michael Galperin. (I, in fact, am one of his pupils.) Knowing how to protect yourself in all situations is an asset and a skill that everyone should have. Just knowing that you can successfully put an attacker in something so simple as a wrist lock — is a great skill and confidence-booster.
4). After exiting the store and heading to your car, especially at night, have your keys handy – so you can quickly get into your car. If need be you can always use your keys as a weapon if you are attacked.
5). Store your purchases in your trunk – along with your purse if you are a woman. The phrase “Out of sight, out of mind” is a good one, because no one will be tempted if they can’t see your valuables.
6). Do you ever exit the stores, in crowded malls such as Legacy Place in Dedham, the South Shore Mall in Braintree or Wrentham Premium Village Outlets, to put holiday purchases in your car – and then head back to the stores to shop some more? Thieves love to see people doing this, because it lets them know they have plenty of time in which they can steal. Don’t run back & forth putting items into your car: It’s a red flag for thieves.
7). Do your shopping during daylight hours – so you’re not the last person, alone, in the parking lot at 11:00PM.
Do you have other safety tips for shoppers in malls during the holiday season? Let me know by emailing me at Bill@kickhamlegal.com.
In the meantime, stay safe.