HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Several women out and about on Highway 280 in Inverness have reported unsettling encounters with men who ask for money, and then act inappropriately, even threatening. CBS 42 talked with police about how best to handle those frightening situations.
“As I was about to get in my car he came up to me and asked me for money,” said Kayla Woods.
She said she spotted a man outside the grocery store who looked like he might be panhandling.
“Panhandlers are pretty common out here actually … but this guy I hadn’t seen before,” she said.
As she walked to her car, he approached her.
“I’m about to open my car door and he’s probably about where you are. I mean you get the vibe. You know you just get a feeling when someone’s behind you,” she explained.
He asked for money and Woods said ‘No.’ Thankfully, he walked away, but she said he did approach several other people and at one point banged on a driver’s window at a stop sign in the parking lot. Woods called the police.
“When strangers approach you unexpectedly, it catches you off guard and if you’re really in fear or feel something’s uncomfortable, just give us a call,” said Lt. Sean Edwards with the Birmingham Police Department.
He said Woods did the right thing.
“Folks should be able to go out to shopping malls, go out to stores, restaurants and be very comfortable and not be in fear of somebody harming them,” he said, adding that there are some things you can do if you feel threatened.
If you’re walking to your car and you see someone suspicious in your path, move in another direction or go back inside the store you just left.
If someone approaches you while you’re standing beside your car, you can use the car as a barrier. Get it between you and them.
And if you’re inside the car, don’t roll down the window.
Remember, you can always call the police if you feel threatened.