Common Parking Lot Crimes

By virtue of their location and design, parking lots can attract undesirables and promote criminal activity.

They are the third most common place where crimes occur, with nearly 1,400 violent crimes committed each day.

Many parking lots and garages have layouts that provide the opportunity for criminality, including dark stairwells, high walls, structural columns, and multiple levels, providing hiding places and poor sightlines that attract criminal activity.

The statistics around parking lot crime paint a worrying picture:

At LotGuard, we are committed to providing parking lot and property owners with the tools they need to help prevent these crimes, including the highest quality surveillance technology, backed by our industry-leading experience.

Below, we outline the most common crimes affecting parking lots, and the best ways to mitigate them. 

The Most Common Parking Lot Crimes - LotGuard

1. Theft of Vehicles

Unattended vehicles serve as magnets attracting criminals with the intent of stealing both the car itself and its contents.

According to the FBI crime statistics, a car is stolen every 23 seconds.

Although statistics indicate that most vehicular theft occurs when cars are parked on the street or at the owner's property, this is because that's where those cars are most frequently parked.

The risk of theft, per hour parked, is much greater when cars are in parking facilities.

A British study (no comparable US data exists) found that cars parked in lots were four times more likely to be stolen than cars parked on the street outside the driver's home or workplace, and were 40% more likely to be stolen than cars parked on any other street. 

Too many parking lots are poorly secured, with poor lighting, blind spots, and nooks where cars cannot easily be seen.

There are seldom adequate surveillance camera systems in place surveillance, and many attendants' booths are poorly positioned or have small windows and poor visibility.

Many lots have overgrown shrubbery providing cover for thieves and are open to pedestrians, making it easy for offenders to enter.

At LotGuard, we have previously outlined ways to enhance the overall security profile of your lots. Click the link below to learn more.

Five Steps to Better Parking Lot Security

2. Theft From Vehicles

Theft from vehicles is an opportunistic crime, with most incidents occurring because the car has been left unlocked or because valuable items have been left in plain sight. 

The profile of parking lots creates an environment where this opportunistic crime is more likely. 

Criminals target retail parking lots as it is likely vehicles contain the owner's previous purchases, and because the car is expected to be left unattended for several hours. 

The design characteristics and lack of ample security also create the opportunity for 'smash and grab' theft from vehicles. 

We recently highlighted the most commonly stolen items from vehicles and many practical steps that can be implemented to prevent this crime. Click the link below to learn more. 

The Most Commonly Stolen  Items from Vehicles - LotGuard

The Most Common Thefts from Vehicles

3. Violent Crimes

According to the National Institute of Justice, parking facilities are one of the most likely settings for violent crimes, with 7.3% of all violent crimes taking place in a parking lot.

Data released by the FBI supports these statistics, with their intel suggesting that parking lots are the third most likely place people will encounter violent crimes, with 45,107 instances reported between 2010 and 2020.

It's not just the volume of violent crimes that demand attention, though; the severe nature of these crimes makes mitigating them one of the most critical aspects of owning or managing a parking lot. 

Serious violent crimes that occur in parking lots include:

As a retail parking lot owner, the threat of these crimes spells disaster for business. If potential customers spot people loitering around your properties, they may look for somewhere else to shop.

As a business owner, it's imperative to protect your workers in these vulnerable environments.

There are several ways to enhance the overall safety profile; we have covered these in detail in our Complete Guide to Parking Lot Security. Click the link below to download your free copy now.

A Complete Guide to Parking Lot Security

4. Hit-and-Runs

When most people hear the word 'hit-and-run', a parking lot isn't necessarily the first thing that springs to mind. More likely, you'll picture a careless or reckless driver fleeing the scene of an accident.

But statistics show that nearly 70% of all hit-and-runs involve parked cars, with a large proportion of these occurring in parking lots. 

In this scenario,  drivers hit cars as they pull into or out of parking spaces and immediately leave without leaving contact or insurance details.

This leaves victims with an expensive repair bill, major inconvenience, and a sense that the parking lot is an unsafe environment. 

As a parking lot owner, you will not (in most cases) be liable for damage caused to vehicles, but if they happen too frequently, it will be a blow to your reputation. 

In addition, there are certain instances where you could be liable for the damage.

For example, if you fail to adequately protect a parking garage against potential criminal conduct or fail to warn of potential hazards such as ice accumulation, poor maintenance, bad design, or inadequate visibility, this could be considered negligence.

A LotGuard surveillance unit not only protects against theft at your properties; they also document any accidents that occur. This can be critical in assisting your guests in investigating a hit-and-run and/or confirming that you are not liable for any damage.

WCCTV LotGuard Pro - Solar Surveillance Trailer for Parking Lot Security

5. Vandalism 

Acts of vandalism at parking lots are mindless, often wholly random, crimes that serve no purpose to the perpetrator but create immense cost and inconvenience.

That's not to mention the irreparable damage it can do to the reputation of your parking lot or business premises.

A San Antonio car was recently hit by vandals who scratched ten cars, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. 

A Mercedes Benz dealership in Oakland, CA, and a Planet Ford dealership in Austin, TX, were also seriously affected by similar crimes

The most common types of parking lot vandalism include:

Learn how to guard against vandalism by reading our guide on Preventing Vandalism at Your Car Dealership, which contains valuable information for owners of any vehicle storage facility.

Preventing Vandalism at Your Car Dealerships

LotGuard: The USA's Leading Parking Lot Surveillance Cameras

LotGuard surveillance units are specifically designed to detect, determitigate, and report criminal activity and provide 24/7 security in parking lot environments.

They feature built-in video analytics capable of detecting loitering and other criminal behavior. When supported by our live video transmission and alarm monitoring, it enables remote crime prevention. 

LotGuard''s HD infrared camera captures crystal clear images even in the lowest lighting conditions, allowing our remote operators to despatch law enforcement and capture usable video for review.

The PTZ cameras allow full site coverage, and we can provide LotGuards to your premises regardless of power availability.

We can customize the camera profile of LotGuard, so it meets the exact requirements of your lot.

This includes IR PTZ cameras, thermal cameras, license plate recognition cameras (LPR), and four-way multisensor cameras, all capable of delivering live and recorded footage through 4G LTE technology.

Reach out to our LotGuard team today to learn more.

Ready to learn more about how WCCTV can protect your parking lots? Call our team today on 877 805-9475 or email

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