William J. Birks, Jr., CPP ::::
Case Analysis: A woman drove her car into the parking lot of a US based retailer. She secured a parking space, abutting a pedestrian walkway that ran perpendicular from the store’s entrance/exit, down the middle of the parking lot. As she exited her car and turned right onto the walkway, the woman was unaware that she was being observed by two males that were “cruising” the lot in a stolen automobile. As she approached the end of the walkway, a car passed in front of her then made a right turn, against the traffic pattern. As the car slowed, a man seated in the passenger’s seat jumped out of the car as it rolled to a stop. The man quickly approached the woman from behind just as she arrived at the end of the walkway and lunged at the handbag she was carrying over her shoulder. The force of the attack caused the woman to be pulled backwards onto the ground. The man continued trying to pry the purse away but she would not relent. As the fruitlessness of his endeavor quickly became apparent to the assailant, he retreated back to the car from which he came. The car sped away, leaving the woman on the ground suffering from multiple injuries, requiring emergency medical attention.
Expert Analysis: Research revealed that parking lot incidents were not uncommon to this retailer; rather they represented a majority of the reported on-premises incidents. Moreover, the retailer possessed significant prior knowledge of these incidents, the elevated potential for aggravated assault and accepted responsibility for securing the parking lot. In order to assist in reducing incident occurrence in their parking lot, the retailer employed the services of a contract security service. The selected provider was contractually mandated by the retailer to provide “continuous patrol” of the parking lot area.
A review of testimony, and video of the incident, concluded that using one security patrol vehicle the security firm could complete one round of the premises every fifteen minutes. The review also revealed that approximately three plus minutes of every round was dedicated to patrolling the area behind the retailer’s building. When scheduled breaks and lunch were factored into the equation, the front parking lot was void of security protection approximately twenty-five percent of every hour. The woman in question was assaulted in the front parking lot during one of those times when the roving security patrol was patrolling the area behind the store. It was also clear from the provided material that the retailer failed to provide an adequate number of security patrol / vehicles for the size, and known risk, of the premises.
Result: Case Settled
William J. Birks, Jr., CPP, is a consultant with DJS Associates and can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.