"Ask The Chief” allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Q: This question came from an audience member who attended a presentation I provided to a local seniors group. How do I stay safe while shopping alone and while in the parking lot?

A: Great question, as thieves are always looking for targets of opportunity. Crime prevention tips for parking lot and shopping safety is a favorite topic of mine, so here are a few.

First and foremost, always maintain awareness of your surroundings, I hate to see shoppers or any other citizens so wrapped up in their smartphones that they are not aware of what is going on around them! Stay tuned into your surroundings.

Here are some more tips:

  1. Give the appearance that you are calm, confident and know where you are going.
  2. Park in well lit areas, with good sight lines (can you see clearly for 100 feet).
  3. When locking your vehicle, use the lock button on your door. If your car keys emit a signal to unlock or start the vehicle (keyless), store the fob/key in a RFID blocker (faraday) bag to prevent the signal from being scanned/stolen. (Faraday bags protect your device from emitting an electronic signal).
  4. Be aware of your surroundings entering and exiting the store. It’s easy to get caught up in our to-do lists. Remember to be mindful of your surroundings while you are out shopping. Trust your gut and ask for an escort to your car if you feel unsafe.
  5. When you are exiting the store have your keys ready to unlock your door. This will help to ensure you get into your vehicle quickly and you can use your keys as a weapon if necessary.
  6. When returning to your car, get in, lock the doors, buckle up, and leave. If you have groceries to load into your vehicle, place your purse in the vehicle first, to avoid being snatched by a passer-by or being forgotten if you get in a hurry.
  7. Keep your cellphone in a pocket if your purse is snatched or is in the vehicle, you will still have a phone to call for help.

Remember, enhanced and real ID driver’s license, credit cards, keyless entry’s and other items may give off an RFID signal, protect your with a RFID blocker sleeve/bag or faraday bag, so that the signal cannot be stolen by someone with a scanner and used at a later time to steal your vehicle or identity.


1. National Crime Prevention Council, shopping safety, located online at: https://www.ncpc.org/news/press-releases/stay-safe-while-you-shop-this-holiday-season/

2. Faraday bags, located online at https://www.amazon.com/faraday-bag/s?k=faraday+bag