Check Your Rearview Mirror...Often

January 25 2005, 7:09 AM

Women driving and parking in downtown parking garages should be on the alert. Police report the following assault occurred Sunday, at 6:45 p.m., at the parking garage at 1551 Larimer Pl.:

Denver police are looking for an armed man they say attacked a woman in a downtown Denver parking garage and attempted to sexually assault her....According to police, the suspect was on foot and followed the woman's vehicle into the parking garage. He then threatened her with a knife, taking her ring and tying her hands. The woman told police that the man pulled her pants down and tried to sexually assault her, but didn't. He took the woman's garage door opener before running from the area. The woman said the man was wearing a dark-colored ski mask but she described him as a light skinned black or Hispanic male, about 30 years of age, 5 foot 7 inches tall, weighing 160 to 170 pounds, with dark hair. He also wore a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, blue jeans, black shoes and gloves.

How can you reduce your risk? Here are some tips I've gathered from law enforcement sources:

  • Most important: Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Keep your car doors locked while driving.
  • If you know someone is following you, keep driving and head somewhere busy and safe, like a police station, a well-lit gas station, the front door to a large supermarket. If you're not sure, drive around the block a few times, checking your rearview mirror to see if the car is still there. Or, signal that you're turning and then at the last minute, keep going straight. Are they still with you?
  • For added safety in a parking garage, back into your space. It makes for a faster exit, and if someone should approach you as you are unlocking the car, you may be able to use the door as a shield. Think about de-sexing your car before parking, removing articles that identify you as a female, like copies of Vogue, sunglasses and scarves. When you leave the car, move the seat back so it appears that a taller person was driving. Seats that are pushed forward close to the steering wheel are a sign that the car is driven by a female.
  • If you do get approached, try to observe the person's description, including height, build, hair colour and clothing. If he's in a car, make a mental note of the vehicle's details, like make, model, color and license plate.

The Crime Doctor, Mr. Traffic, and E-How have some additional tips pertinent to carjackings, many of which are also applicable to preventing personal attacks .