Commercial building owners, property managers and parking garage supervisors should be aware that they can be held responsible for criminal activity and safety related injuries that occur in their parking lots. Ignoring safety concerns can be a costly mistake. Property managers and building owners should use these tips to minimize risk and keeping their parking lots safe.
1. Security Lighting
Install steel light poles and LED floodlights in parking lots where they cannot be tampered with or otherwise inactivated. Protect LED light bulbs and fixtures with light shield boxes that prevent moisture damage. Parking lot security lights should be pointing directly down on areas they illuminate. After installing new security lights during the day, take the time to adjust light direction after dark. Manual and automatic security lighting is available. Photocell parking lot lights are automatically triggered at dusk and turn off in the morning.
2. Video Surveillance Cameras
Large parking lots and parking garages in medium to high-crime areas would greatly benefit from installing a CCTV system and implementing video surveillance cameras. Closed circuit television systems provide real-time monitoring of properties by trained security professionals. Special surveillance cameras placed around a parking area transmit images to remote monitoring screens 24/7. CCTVs work well to catch potential criminal activity before it happens. When monitors see a crime taking place, they can immediately summon the authorities. Surveillance cameras also capture detailed pictures of suspects for identification purposes that lead to quicker arrests.
Monitored surveillance systems offer the following benefits:
- Customers will be more likely to feel safe when visiting your business at any time of the day or night
- Criminals will find more vulnerable parking lots to prowl when they learn your lot is being surveilled 24/7
- Improves reputation and customer satisfaction ratings for commercial businesses
- Reduces unexpected expenses associated with graffiti and other forms of vandalism
- Assists law enforcement when tracking down perpetrators
Unmonitored surveillance systems may not be applicable to all parking lots or parking garages. Generally, busier parking lots that accommodate hundreds or thousands of customers every day should consider investing in monitored surveillance systems or hiring security guards to patrol lots.
3. Reminder Signs
People parking in commercial lots or parking garages are usually in a hurry to shop or make an appointment on time. They aren’t thinking about locking their car doors, staying vigilant about their surroundings or taking valuables with them instead of leaving them in the car. Placing “reminder” signs throughout a lot or garage can go a long way at reducing criminal activity in parking lots.
4. Practice Proactive Parking Lot/Parking Garage Maintenance
- Replace bad light fixtures as soon as they show signs of malfunctioning
- Repair cracks, potholes and other asphalt damage seasonally.
- Clean up auto fluid spills at least once a week
- Empty waste bins regularly
- Trim shrubbery around commercial parking lots, if applicable. Criminals will hide behind trees or bushes surrounding store parking lots and wait for someone to park near the bush.
When possible, remove natural foliage that may provide concealment for perpetrators. A well-maintained parking can deter criminals by sending them the message that this parking lot may be under surveillance.
5. Security Guard Patrols
Parking lots with security guards posted at entrances, exits and various interior areas provide the best security for parking lots. When building owners hire security guards to monitor their busy parking lots, customers appreciate the fact that the owner is investing in their safety as valued customers.
Additional benefits of security guards for parking lots include:
- They ensure parking rules are obeyed (no parking in fire lanes, prevents non-handicapped people from parking in handicapped areas, reduces instances of road rage and reckless driving)
- They provide a powerful deterrence to criminal activity. Potential robbers, auto thieves and even kidnappers will have second thoughts about committing a crime when they see a parking area is being monitored by professional security guards
- They are trained to identify and recognize suspicious activity. Our Baltimore, Washington D.C. and northern Virginia security guards are highly skilled and experienced in performing preventative and proactive guard duties that can significantly reduce criminal activity in parking lots and garages of all sizes
Security guards can also help building owners avoid possible litigation if a customer suffers a crime while in their parking lot and attempts to sue on the grounds of negligent security.
6. Panic Buttons
Easily installed on light fixture poles, panic buttons give people peace of mind no matter what time of day they are using a parking lot or parking garage. When pressed, panic buttons emit extremely loud alarms that alert security guards and others within earshot that someone is in danger and needs help immediately. Panic buttons are also useful for individuals who are suffering a health emergency.
7. Voice Activated Security Systems
In some cases, it may not be possible to monitor a CCTV system 24/7. Fortunately, CCTV systems are available that are voice-activated. For example, if a person is attacked in a parking lot and starts screaming for help, their yells will activate noise sensors in surveillance cameras. Instantly, cameras move towards the sounds and focus on the area of the attack. Security guards patrolling the parking lot are then dispatched to the scene via walkie-talkie or cell phone alerts.
8. "This Area is Being Monitored in Real-Time"
Just the simple act of posting signs warning would-be criminals that your parking lot is equipped with video surveillance cameras is enough to deter a determined thief or carjacker. While you shouldn’t post signs claiming there are security guards monitoring the lot when none can be seen, posting signs claiming “this area is monitored by CCTV” or “parking lot under surveillance” will unsettle even the most seasoned criminals.
9. Parking Lot Directional Signs for Drivers
In addition to robberies and auto thefts, parking lot crimes also include reckless drivers, road rage incidences and fights over parking spaces. Signage telling drivers to slow down, drive safely and park only in designated areas can help remind drivers to show respect for other drivers. Directional signs with arrows pointing to panic buttons, exits, emergency phones and other helpful items will also work to improve parking lot safety.
10. Get a Professional Risk Assessment
Premises liability lawsuits involving parking lots typically point to insufficient lighting, poorly secured layout and, in some cases, response time of emergency assistance. Building owners in northern Virginia, Baltimore and Washington D.C should make sure they are taking reasonable and proactive care with protecting individuals using their lot to avoid expensive claims.
One way many parking lot managers do this is by hiring security risk assessment experts to evaluate their parking lot. A risk assessment company will:
- Clinically examine the physical layout of the parking lot
- Take note of daily level of traffic activity
- Research the crime rate in the area
- Identify problem areas (remote spots, overgrown foliage, lack of illumination) where crimes are likely to occur
Following completion of their evaluation, risk assessment companies provide detailed recommendations for reducing or eliminating risk factors. In most cases, these companies will strongly urge medium to large-size parking lots consider hiring security guards for enhancing the safety of their customers at dusk and late at night.