What’s the most dangerous moment of our day? Home, late at night, when lights are off and everyone, including the cocker spaniel, is tucked into bed? The office, where an angry ex-coworker could burst inside? The gun-free-zone coffee shop, where a predator expects easy pickings?

I think the most dangerous moment is our time in a parking lot. It’s an impersonal and unpleasant place. There, we struggle with shopping bags, grocery carts, an irritable spouse and obstinate children. We send a text or place a call. We remember things forgotten. Is it worth returning? … But ah, the ice cream is melting.

Inside the car, we buckle seat belts, adjust mirrors, turn on the a/c and radio, and make sure we can back out of the parking spot without crushing some oblivious shoppers on their cell phones. The last thing we’re considering is personal safety. And that’s too bad, because parking lots are to criminals like a field of tulips to Tiny Tim. A criminal knows we’re preoccupied; that we’re thinking about everything except the fact that he’s searching for a quick path to our car with the least possible exposure.

Simple Criminality

A criminal knows you’re vulnerable in a parking lot, that you’re easy there. “Parking Lots” should be renamed “Victim Zones” — purchase a ticket and hang out here to be robbed, mugged or worse. Hundreds of incidents are recorded online:

March 29, 2017, Florence, Ohio: A 19-year-old woman was hospitalized following an assault and robbery in Walmart’s parking lot. While her husband was already inside the store, she was knocked unconscious, losing a tooth, and her jaw was broken in two places. She only remembered someone tugging at her purse before being crunched. “She’s horrifically traumatized,” the mother-in-law said. When his wife didn’t immediately come inside, the husband went to look for her. He found her on the pavement near the car. The woman’s jaw is now wired shut until it heals. The thief got away with bank cards, cell phones and cash. The ordeal left the young couple terrified. (Note to oblivious: Why would you ever abandon your family in a parking lot?)

June 22, 2017, Uniondale, Long Island, New York: A 78-year-old woman stepped out of her car in the parking lot of the Town House Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing when a man confronted her, demanding money. He grabbed her pocketbook and shoved her to the ground; she was not injured. She was lucky. (Note to reader: You could be 78 one day. Think about it.)

Road Rage

The other problem with parking lots in the 21st Century is that people are in a huge hurry, not the least bit considerate of others. Egos are thin and exposed. This makes for daily road rage just short of Mad Max: Fury Road, but really, road rage is only another form of criminality. Again, dozens of examples are available online:

July 19, 2017, San Diego, California: An argument escalated into a shooting that left a man dead in the parking lot of a strip mall outside Burlington Coat Factory on El Cajon Boulevard in La Mesa. Officers performed CPR but the man died. Witnesses saw a man and a woman, estimated to be in their 20s, run away after the shooting. Officers recovered a gun and a cell phone nearby. (Note to witnesses: Police cordoned off a section of the lot with yellow tape, leaving some parked vehicles trapped overnight. After an incident, move your car!)

July 11, 2017, Tucker, Georgia: Two motorists attempted to pass a Doritos delivery truck outside a Target store on LaVista Road. Simultaneously. Their movements resulted in an impasse; neither driver would budge. So Robert Herwing got out of his car with a bottle and poured its contents onto Tara Moody’s car; then on Tara. Tara reached inside for a handgun, whereupon Herwing dumped liquid on her a second time. (Note to Robert: Bad decision.) At that point, she shot him and drove away. Herwing remains in critical condition. Tara remains in jail. (Note to all: Boycott Target.)

Parking lots. Get in your car. Lock the door. Put the car in gear. If you are threatened, take your foot off the brake. The car will roll backward and cause a fender bender. The perp will flee.