Since news broke of the shocking murder of Estella Scott-Roberts last year, women throughout Cayman have been far more aware of the potential dangers involved in returning to their parked cars at night.
It has become a common practice for women on their own to ask someone to walk them to their cars in darkened car parks at night.
Mrs. Scott-Roberts was last seen alive returning to her car at a dark car park off West Bay Road in October last year.
Self-defence instructor Bob Daigle advises people to be very aware of their surroundings when returning to their cars.
“While walking to your car, refrain from talking on your cell phone or listening to your mp3 player. Keep your focus on your environment,” he said.
He also urges people to have their keys in their hand when they approach their car and to look around for any suspicious activity.
“If you see someone loitering around your vehicle, walk past until they leave,” he said.
Before unlocking the car, do a quick scan of the vehicle’s interior. “Be sure to look in the back seat,” Mr. Daigle said.
He also advises against parking next to a van with a sliding door, and says people should try to park in lighted areas when parking at night.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Services issued the following list of safety tips for people returning to their parked cars at night:
* Take time to find a safe parking spot.
* Park close to your destination, especially if it’s going to be dark when you return, even if it means waiting for a space to become available.
* Be aware of your surroundings – attackers look for easy victims, someone who is distracted; if you are on the phone or looking in your handbag do not be oblivious to your surroundings.
* Hide or remove your valuables when leaving your car.
* At night, try to park under a street light.
* If you’re comfortable backing into parking spaces, it’s a good way to park, because it means you can leave quickly if the situation becomes dangerous.
* When you’re walking back to your car, keep your keys in hand, so you can get into the car quickly or use them as a weapon if needed.
* Always take the most brightly lit path to and from your car.
* After you open the car door, check the front and back seats to make sure no one is hiding inside.
* Lock your doors once you get inside the car.
* If someone suspicious approaches you, honk your horn and flash the lights to draw attention.
* If your instinct suggests danger when you are parking or coming back to your car, leave the area until you’re sure it is secure.