With parking lot robberies on the rise in Houston, police provide tips on how to stay safe while shopping

HPD chief and retailers promote safe shopping

HOUSTON – From violent purse snatchings to robberies, we’ve seen videos of crooks targeting innocent people in parking lots.

Now, there’s a new push to help prevent these violent crimes and keep shoppers safe.

Houston police surveyed several cars in a parking lot near San Felipe and said more than half failed because people left valuable items like backpacks, purses, and laptops out in the open.

“Safe shopping starts with you,” HPD Chief Troy Finner said.

Parking lot crimes are happening a lot more and Houston police want you to be aware.

HPD officers and the Greater Houston Loss Prevention Alliance demonstrated how quick thieves can be.

During the first demonstration, a car drives up to a woman, snatches her purse and drives off.

“Travel light, that’s the first tip. A lot of ladies come out and you have big expensive purses. Let’s try to get away from that,” Finner said.

Deb Boultinghouse said she always keeps her purse at her side.

“When I get in my car, my purse gets in with me, and then I close it and I lock it. I’m not scared, but I’m going to be cautious,” Boultinghouse said.

KPRC 2 reported on several thefts that happened in the last few months. One man was robbed in a parking lot in the River Oaks District. Thieves took his $16,000 watch.

Last month, a mother was robbed at gunpoint while sitting in her car with her two kids at a gas station.

“God saved us that day, but I don’t want to remember that day,” the woman said.

Police say it only takes a few seconds for thieves to take what they want.

“Laptops, gym bags, purses. Crooks think it’s valuables in there so move that out,” Finner said.

It’s important to shop safely because it’s easy to become a victim.

“People are watching you, they know what you are doing,” Juan Paredes said.

Houston police said park in well-lit areas at night and be sure to roll up your windows and lock your doors.