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The one thing I have always taught my kids is to be aware of their surroundings as they are out and about. Whether you are out shopping, making a quick trip to the bank/ATM or walking through parking lots, you need to pay attention not only to those around you but also to the possible situations that could leave you vulnerable.

One Sunday afternoon at the ATM machine which there were a few people ahead of me in line, so I felt secure that others were around. My daughter stayed in the locked car with my purse. As I was at the machine, I found myself to be the only one in the area and felt the urge to be quick. After completing my transaction and walking around to the car, I saw a man who seemed to appear from out of nowhere across the street.  He was walking briskly and crossed the street towards me. He shouted, “Do you have some extra cash I could have?   “No, I don’t,” I responded firmly. I quickly jumped in the car, locked the doors and headed out.

A few days later, I had to run some errands during my lunch hour. While going back to my car with keys in hand ready to make a quick exit, a lady had quickly appeared out from around the parked cars and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, can you help me out?”  I think she saw that I was in a rush and asked, “Are you in a hurry?”  “Yes, I only have minutes left of my lunch hour,” I replied and quickly left.

On a different day, after another errand, I had just returned to my car and put my purse down on the passenger seat. As I was reaching around for my seat belt, a woman was up against my driver’s window asking for money. I nearly jumped out of my skin.  I just shook my head no, started my car and carefully backed out. My doors were locked.

Being aware of your surrounding is a must!  This particular family member was approached by a female who proclaimed to have had some trouble with her vehicle. As he stopped at his vehicle to hear the dilemma, he was approached from behind by two men lying in wait. He was attacked and robbed of his wallet. Credit cards and cash were gone!  Desperate times are causing people to go to great lengths to get what they want.

Does this mean we can’t help people out? Certainly not, but what is does say is for us to be cautious, be very careful. Everybody can be vulnerable at some time in their life.

Here are some good tips:  If you will be out during evening hours, park in a well-lit area. Always try to find a parking spot as close to the entrance of where you are going; Make a mental note of where you’re parked. Would-be thieves are just looking for your vulnerability. The distressed “Where did I park my car” look is a dead giveaway that you are elsewhere in thought and not aware of your surroundings, making you an easy target; Only carry the credit card or cards you think you will need, not your entire collection. Now is the season to make a list of all your credit cards, along with contact phone numbers for each card, and keep it in a safe place at home; Be alert and aware of people “hanging around” parking lots/garages, or just inside or outside the store or establishment you are visiting; Have your car keys ready in hand before you go into the parking lot, fumbling for keys makes you a vulnerable target; Zip up purses and carry secure by your side to avoid pickpockets;  If at all possible, hold all cell phone calls or texts until you are locked inside your car; Be very careful at the ATM machine, day or night;  As you are parking, whether it’s in a parking lot, side street or your own driveway, check your surroundings before exiting your locked car; Trust your instincts!


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