erty’s lot or garage and look for ways to improve safety,”
Without any data to trend, however, you’ll have a major
blind spot when it comes to your parking shortcomings.
You have to understand what conditions can produce an
incident before you make changes to lighting, surveillance,
or access control.
If you haven’t already or it’s been a number of years, conduct a premise liability assessment, recommends Ahrens.
This security risk analysis will document potential areas
of liability that could stem from the maintenance, operation, or design of your parking area. Some of these issues
could be tied to poor upkeep, lack of a security presence,
inadequate personnel training, failure to act and respond to
incidences, or conflicts between policies and procedures.
“I can’t stress this enough – you should be doing security
surveys every quarter or once a year at minimum,” says
Robinson. “You need to confirm that everything is as secure
as you think it is. Daily sweeps are even better. You need to
You can also review incident reports or the calls for ser-
vice logs, Ahrens adds. This assumes, of course, that you are
keeping track of these occurrences in the first place. If you
aren’t, your first priority is to establish a reporting system.
Robinson, for example, receives daily copies of the UNT
police reports so he can see what type of incidents have occurred in parking areas. His goal is to spot small problems
and address them before they escalate.
Don’t Ignore the Broken Window Theory
Stained concrete, rusted metal, faded parking lines, litter,
and chipped paint – a dingy garage or lot appearance may
lead perpetuators to think that security is just as lax as
Well-lit spaces are a major deterrent to crime because
good illumination eliminates hiding spaces and increases
people’s awareness of their surroundings. The right lighting conveys a sense of safety and watchfulness that could
make an individual with criminal intent hesitant about the
risk of getting caught.
“While a formal light assessment is a plus, you can
simply walk through your parking areas and see with your
own eyes if illumination is poor,” Ahrens notes. “Look for
fixtures that are burnt out or dirty, cast a yellow light, or
Take a note from big box retailers, advises Robinson.
Bright area lighting keeps a store’s appearance inviting for
customers as well as maintaining a high level of visibility
for security. Schools, offices, and healthcare facilities can
benefit from this same approach.
If your lot or garage still uses metal halides or sodium
pressure lamps, consider switching to fluorescents or
LEDs, Robinson recommends. These fixtures deliver white
or blue light, which is perceived as friendlier than orange
hues. They also offer better glare control and coverage. As
an added benefit, you’ll reap energy savings while ensuring
parking spaces look inviting and approachable.
Good janitorial practices can also make a big difference
in appearance, Robinson notes. Have a maintenance plan in
DO’S AND DON’TS OF PARKING
AVOID THESE POTENTIAL VULNERABILITIES
Shadows created by low lighting, dark paint, or confined
spaces – this creates places for perpetrators to hide and
poor visibility for users.
An absence of panic buttons, emergency phones, or
surveillance – if an emergency occurs, how will someone
ask for help?
Poorly marked exits, row and floor numbers, parking
spots, and driving lanes – don’t forget to minimize the
potential for accidents by helping people and cars to
move safely in and out of the space.
An unkempt, dingy, or dirty appearance – a poorly maintained parking area is more vulnerable because offenders
will think that it’s unattended.
CREATE A SENSE OF OPENNESS
Paint floors, ceilings, and support columns with a light,
reflective, or glossy paint – this will help to bounce light.
Install lighting fixtures that provide bright light with
wide coverage and good color rendering – regardless of
the light source, users should be able to easily recognize
colors, shapes, and people from a distance.
Mark any driving hazards with bright paint colors – no
need to sustain structural damage when an eye-catching
shade can help guide users.
Use prominent signage that is easy to read – when
people are distracted by finding their way, they are at a
greater risk for an accident or assault because they aren’t
attuned to their surroundings.