SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Tis the season for shopping, and distracted shopping, which can be dangerous.
A Springfield woman says she was cornered Tuesday night in between two cars and a shopping car, by a man insisting that he give her a ride to her car.
Security experts offered this advice: Where you park matters. Pay close attention and don't lose your car. Park in ear-shot of the foot traffic, if possible. Realize that in this day and age, there should be no reason someone approaches you in a parking lot. So if someone starts to approach you, that should be a red flag.
The woman initially thought the man was being a gentleman.
"At the exit door he was like, oh, you go ahead and was just being polite."
Minutes later, she found out otherwise.
"As I'm walking out, I notice he's still following me and I'm walking to my car and he pulls his cart up next to me," she explained. "He corners me into what he didn't know was actually my car which helped me because it was my car and I could just hop in."
She says he then got very demanding.
"He was like let me give you a ride to your car, where are you parked? And I was like oh, just right here. And he was like no seriously, let me give you a ride to your car. And I was like I'm really just right here. I don't need a ride, and he was like why won't you let me give you a ride, and by then, I was in my car, doors locked, tried to pull out fast enough to get a picture or a license plate and he was just gone."
The 22-year-old shopper is now afraid to show her face. Kristy, as we'll call her, was grocery shopping at the Walmart on Independence, just before 8:00 Tuesday night.
Walmart's cameras captured the exchange.
"He looked like a very normal guy. I will no longer shop after dark."
The investigation will determine if anything "criminal" happened. Either way, Kristy got away unscathed. But it will change her behavior, and serves as a warning to the rest of us.
"You could do something as simple as turn around and say is there anything I can help you with? As long as your voice is assertive-- if you want to say 'hey, back off! Don't come any closer! You can step it up to that next level. But don't be meek or weak in your voice," said security expert Jeff Cvitak with Martial Arts USA. He says shoppers beware, especially when your mind is focused on gift buying, instead of your surroundings.
"If you have someone who tries to come up and take you, you have seen that person an average of 4 to 5 times, but you may not even have known it. They've already scouted you out four or five times at that store, and you don't even know it," Cvitak said.
What Kristy found out when she watched the surveillance video is the man was following her even inside the store in the check out line.
She described him as a white man in his mid 30s.
--Eye contact is crucial because that way they know you are aware of them, and you're confident.
--If they are looking for an object, give it to them and run away.
--Keep keys in hand.
--If you're going to use mace, practice it first. Make sure you are not downwind when you spray it.
-- Holding your cell phone is fine, if you're using it while explaining to a friend where you are, what's going on, etc. But don't use it in long conversation, because it becomes a distraction.
Kristy's case is under investigation.