Shoppers, Employees Use Caution in Parking Lot

Saturday, December 27th 2008, 11:34 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The abduction and rape of a woman at Penn Square Mall has put mall employees and patrons on edge, but Oklahoma City police want shoppers to stay safe.

"It is really alarming to know that where you think you're safe, you're really not," Penn Square Mall employee Katheryn Leaman said.

She carries mace with her in an attempt to protect herself from a potential attacker.

"I won't be caught off guard," Leaman said. "It's in my hand, so I don't have to fumble for it."

Leaman said it was alarming that a woman was abducted in the mall parking garage at gunpoint last week.

"It was alarming that nobody noticed, that security didn't notice," Leaman said.

The woman was later raped by her abductor.

"Drove her to another location and sexually assaulted her," said Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Gary Knight. "Ended up driving her to a bank also and used her ATM card to get cash."

Oklahoma City police ask shoppers to keep safety a priority if heading to any metro mall this weekend.

They advice shoppers to avoid the parking garage, especially if a shopper is alone, and to park in a well-lit area.

"There is strength in numbers," Sgt. Gary Knight said. "Don't shop alone if particularly if you are a female and you don't have to. If you can take a friend with you, again strength in numbers go with a friend, you are less likely to be targeted by someone with foul play in mind."

Katheryn said she reminded her all female co-workers to stay aware, even after long day at work.

"Each of the girls is going to get their pepper spray now," Leaman said. "They are following simple precautions of parking by the lights, knowing where their car is and not wasting time once you get into your car."

Mall officials would not comment because the incident is under investigation, but they did say mall security is a top priority and will evaluate their security program.