Posted by on August 5, 2019

Parking lots are potential sites for various crimes, including car break-ins, muggings, sexual and physical assaults. Here are some examples in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

On November 14, 2014, a woman was attacked at approximately 11:15 p.m. inside a parking lot on Shipp Drive.

On December 17, 2016, a man was with his girlfriend at Square One Shopping Centre, just before 7 p.m. He drove to an underground parking spot where a woman was standing holding the spot without a vehicle. When he asked her to move the woman began yelling racial slurs at him. A second woman approached the scene, noted he was recording the incident, walked over and allegedly punched him. She was later charged with assault.

On May 17, 2019, a woman was driving through the parking lot when a man began riding toward her on a bicycle. She honked her horn. He then stopped in front of her vehicle, allegedly spit in her face and broke the passenger car mirror.

Years ago a private client told me of an alarming experience she had in an outdoor Toronto parking lot. A man approached her in a panicked state telling her he was late for an apt and had locked his keys in his car. His arms, he said, were too big to fit through the partially open driver side window but she could reach in and unlock the door. She agreed to help and as they approached his car she notices the window was halfway open, allowing him easy access. She fled and got away.

As these examples show parking lots assaults can vary. Let’s outline six general factors that might be involved.

  1. That’s my spot! Especially in busy lots, parking spots can be fiercely contested. If someone feels “their spot” has been taken they might act in an aggressive matter and conflict can ensue, sometimes leading to physical violence. (as our “Square One” incident above demonstrates).
  2. Lane Rage: Similar to road rage, these conflicts can happen when someone feels affronted (denying “right of way”) or that someone is posing a safety risk (reckless driving). In the May 19, 2019 incident cited above it appears the driver and cyclist were vying over the right of way and it escalated quickly.
  3. Hiding Spots: Options vary here depending on the parking lot. Parked cars provide hiding spots for a crouching, stealthy predator to close in on their target. Pillars and stairwells offer similar opportunities to hide.
  4. Awareness: We seem increasingly oblivious to our surroundings. We are often on our phones texting or chatting away about personal or professional matters on our hands’ free devices. This, of course, plays into the hands of the assailant who wants to ambush and assault.
  5. Burdens. Carrying a multitude of grocery or shopping bags. Focused on getting to the car without dropping anything.
  6. Deception. The last situation is a clear example. Someone uses a “scam” to lure you to their car or yours, a stairwell…anyway more private. Don’t go!

This offers a very general outline of some factors involved in parking lot assaults. Our next blog on the topic will look at some practical prevention and protection tips to be safer in these settings.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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