Many travelers leave their cars at the local airport parking lot without a second thought, believing all will be well. They implicitly trust the airport’s security system and management to protect their vehicles against damage or theft. While most airport security is safe and effective, there are some things to discuss with the parking administrator when planning to leave a vehicle in the facility’s long term parking area.
Local Car Thefts
It will be helpful to know if there have been any reports of car theft in the neighborhoods around the airport. Recent crimes of this nature may indicate a higher possibility than usual of attempted theft in the airport parking area.
Airport Car Thefts
Find out if the airport long term parking area has experienced car theft in the past few months. If thefts have occurred, ask how often and how many. Details will help to understand the big picture along with any possible risks of leaving a vehicle in long term parking.
You should ask how the parking area will be secured. For example, some facilities use a remote camera with security personnel observing from inside a nearby building or booth. Other facilities make use of security guards patrolling the premises in vehicles or on foot, making routine rounds throughout each person’s shift. If suspicious activity is noted, it is important to know how it will be handled. Is the security person onsite qualified and legally allowed to pursue a would-be thief? Alternately, perhaps the security officer is supposed to call local police officers from the nearest community. Response time should be noted.
Adequate lighting of the parking lot is essential as a deterrent against theft or vandalism. Try to park your vehicle near a bright security light so that any criminal types will likely avoid it while choosing a car that is parked in a less well-lit area. Make sure the light is fully functioning and has not burned out.
Check to see if there is a secure fence around the perimeter of the parking area. The fence should be secure, with the gate locked and monitored at all times.
Inspect your vehicle before parking it long term at the airport to be sure everything of value has been removed. This would include not only the usual items, like cash or the vehicle’s registration, but also personal belongings like favorite clothing, children’s toys, or important tools.
Take a few digital pictures of your vehicle from different angles, inside as well as outside. Note distinguishing characteristics, like a dented bumper or a scuff mark on the door. These images may be helpful in identifying the vehicle later if necessary. Needless to say, do not leave the photos in the car. Take them with you, or better yet, leave them at home.
Meet the Security Manager
Find and introduce yourself to the person in charge of parking security. Face-to-face contact will not only help to confirm your identity if an incident should occur in your absence, but it also establishes something of a connection between you and the person in charge, which sometimes helps to promote more assertive action when an acquaintanceship is formed. Most people are more willing to go out of their way for someone they know than for an unknown name or face.
Before leaving your vehicle in long term parking, have a good look around. Take note of anything that seems unusual or leads to concern. If you have questions, discuss them with the parking manager.
If possible, try to make parking arrangements before the day of departure. This will give you time to check out the parking area and get the information you need to feel comfortable leaving your vehicle there. With a few precautions, you can board your flight confidently, knowing that your car is in safe hands.