Holiday shoppers, balancing purchases, purses, keys and cellphones, are particularly vulnerable targets for crime. The National Safety Council cautions, “Large parking lots, such as those found at shopping malls, are considered most vulnerable to crime, according to the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center. One way for consumers to steer clear of trouble is to pick a lot where pedestrian traffic is restricted and video surveillance equipment is used to monitor the facility.”
What can mall parking lot owners do to protect their patrons and deter crime this holiday season?
The Urban Institute’s Safe City guide urges property owners to assess crime and develop strategic plans to protect patrons. Suggested security strategies include:
- Restrict pedestrian traffic through parking facility
- Install video surveillance throughout parking facility
- Keep parking facility clean and well maintained
- Improve surveillance by keeping shrubs and trees well manicured
- Reduce number of entrance/exit points
- Install entrance/exit barriers
- Require use of ticket for exit even if no parking fee is charged
- Improve lighting in and around the parking facility
- Hire a parking attendant or security guard to patrol the facility
- Introduce bike patrols to patrol facility
- Post signs to encourage drivers to protect themselves, for example: “Prevent theft: lock your car and hide valuables out of sight.”
- Post warning signs to deter potential perpetrators, for example: “This area is under surveillance for your safety.”
Victims of Parking Facility Violence: Know Your Rights
Shopping center patrons have a right to feel safe and secure while on the premises of the establishment they are visiting, both inside a business and outside in the parking lot. By law, property owners are required to protect all patrons legally on the premises from any foreseeable harm. For example, should a shopping center owner have knowledge of prior violence on or near property, they have a responsibility to implement additional security precautions to protect patrons and deter such crime. Should a mall owner fail in this critical responsibility, they may be held civilly liable for any injuries, sexual assaults or wrongful deaths which occur as a consequence.
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