Most business travelers in the US do drive their cars or take a rental when they travel, unless the destination city has excellent public transit, like in New York City or San Francisco. Unfortunately, a car is a target for thieves, particularly when left unattended in hotel parking lots. A few tips to raise your parking lot awareness will prevent theft of your car and/or valuables, or even an attack on you!
Pick the Right Hotel
Thieves are found at all price points, from No-Tell Motels to the Four Seasons. Call ahead to find out if the hotel has any parking lot security, or if the local police do regular drive-bys both day and night. Ask if the lot is well lit and if cars can easily be seen from the hotel windows. Valet parking is usually a safe bet.
Pick the Right Spot to Park
Try to park where you can see your vehicle from the hotel window. Park under a light, or as close to the parking lot lights as possible. Alternatively, park close to the lobby area or manager’s office – somewhere rather public. Do not select parking spots far off in dark lot corners, under thick trees or behind dumpsters.
In Your Car
Keep valuables out of site. In fact, keep anything remotely portable out of sight. Cars have been broken into for a few used CDs left lying on the seat. An empty car interior is the least appealing to a thief. When possible, use the hotel safe – especially for the money, credit cards, IDs and personal electronics.
Walking in the Parking Lot
Have keys in hand – no fumbling around. Predators prefer people who look distracted and confused. Look inside car windows before getting into any car, in case an attacker is inside. A keychain light can help you find the lock quickly and efficiently. Unlock the car quickly, get inside, and immediately lock back up. Keep cell phones charged, powered on and near at hand, and do not hesitate to call 911 if threatened. Try not to walk alone at night in parking lots. Women and the elderly especially should ask hotel security to accompany them to their vehicles at night.