Car Safety Tips when Shopping

Plan where you are going. Know how to get in and out of the Shopping Parking Area. This avoids you giving off the signals of someone lost and vulnerable.

Always park in a spot where there is plenty of light and if possible, park close to your destination. Don’t park under trees or in darkened areas.

Avoid parking next to high-sided vans, large SUV’s, or cars with tinted windows. More visibility equals more security for you.

It is nearly ALWAYS better to reverse into a space on arrival. This avoids the slow, vulnerable and time consuming reversing out you will have to do when you car is fully stocked with shopping. That time is all the thief needs.

Ensure all windows are closed and doors are locked as you leave. DO NOT leave spare keys, vehicle documents, credit card receipts, items which identify you or your home, or Driving licences in the car.
Always take note of where you parked your car. Use your mobile if necessary to photo its location and remember the name of the store entrance it is closest to.

If you are going on an expensive shopping trip, bring a family member or friend with you. Security in numbers. Always have someone walk back to the car with you if you are carrying an expensive item.
Ask Security if you are concerned. Men are equally vulnerable, especially as they don’t think they are.

Place your shopping in the boot or under your seat where no one can see them. Leave nothing open to view inside the car. Remove all phone charge/Sat Nav connections and place them in the glove box. CLEAN the windscreen where you had the Sat Nav mounted to remove the tell-tale ring.

Don’t advertise all your shopping success by carrying a multitude of different bags. Try and camouflage your shopping by putting it all into one/two bags, preferably nondescript. Don’t overload yourself with too many bags.

If you or your partner/spouse/friend return to you car to put shopping in the boot, ALWAYS MOVE the car. Go up a floor or down a floor in a multi-story or shift your car to a new location at the Shopping Centre, prior to going back in for more. Anyone looking will assume you are gone for good.

Don’t place you most expensive purchases in the car boot first thing. Collect them when you are leaving at the end of your shopping.

Scan the area as you walk to your car; be aware of your surroundings, keeping your head up and your walk assertive. Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.

Have your keys at the ready and always have the internal lighting set to come on as you click open the doors. Always visually check the car internally before you enter.

Be mindful of people who ‘accidentally’ bump into you. Keep your car keys, money and credit cards in a safe location. Thieves and pick-pockets can disguise themselves as normal shoppers for the sole purpose of conducting THEIR business.

Having reversed in, now get into the car, lock the doors and exit immediately. DO NOT begin reading a magazine/newspaper, make any phone calls or check monies/receipts. Sitting in your car with your head down puts you at serious risk.

DON’T leave the car running unattended, even as you put shopping in the boot. Vehicles are commonly stolen at Petrol forecourts, ATMs, Local shops, etc.

Institute of Advanced Motorists of Ireland

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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